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Each year on January 27, Thetas everywhere pause in our busy lives to observe Founders Day. We pause to celebrate the birth of the first Greek-letter fraternity known among women; to celebrate everything that Theta has given, and continues to give, us; to celebrate four young women who walked into the chapel at Asbury College, wearing their Theta badges.
As we near our sesquicentennial in 2020, each Founders Day seems to gain additional significance. In fact, Founders Day 2016 marked the official beginning of our sesquicentennial celebration. On that day, we dedicated each of the next four years to one of our founders, because—while they founded Theta together—each was an individual, with her own character, abilities, and interests.
This year, we honor Alice Allen Brant, whose life helped shape Theta's past and was the inspiration for one of the aims that continue to shape our future: highest scholarship. She also embodied one of the traits—perseverance—that forms Kappa Alpha Theta's motto. Alice herself liked to tell a story that illustrates both her dedication to her studies and her determination. Living about five miles from Greencastle, Alice rode her horse to school every day her freshman year. But she didn't always have a ride home. On occasion, the horse, named Kate, would break her halter and head back to the farm before Alice was ready, leaving her to walk the five miles home.
Despite the obstacles—both amusing and more serious—she faced, Alice graduated from Asbury and became a teacher (earning the highest level of teaching certificate) and a high school principal.
Today, Alice's legacy is reflected in our ideal of supporting each member as she seeks to fully develop her intellectual, cultural, and social potential. Not only is our Fraternity devoted to this commitment. So, too, is our Fraternity Housing Corporation, as it prioritizes dedicated learning environments in the facilities it manages. So, too, is Theta Foundation, leading the Greek community in awarding more than $500,000 each year in undergraduate and graduate scholarships. And this commitment by all three Theta entities resonates strongly nearly 150 years after our founding—as demonstrated by the colleges and universities that are eager to welcome a Theta chapter to their campuses. In fact, between autumn of 2016 and autumn of 2017, we will reestablish three former college chapters and establish four new ones, setting a record for the most chapters chartered during one academic term!
Imagine how pleased Alice—who co-founded Theta to provide support to women in their fight to earn an education equal to those offered to men—would be to know of this expansion. Imagine how pleased she would be by these increased opportunities to provide opportunities for learning and growth. This Founders Day, we celebrate Alice Allen Brant and her commitment to taking risks, to personal growth, and to leading others by example.
On Founders Day, we have the opportunity to tangibly demonstrate Theta's ideals by donating to the Friendship Fund. The Fund provides gifts to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship due to serious or terminal illness, job loss, natural disaster, and other devastating occurrences. Gifts to the Friendship Fund—traditionally $1 per year of Theta membership—may be effected by checks made payable to Kappa Alpha Theta, with "Friendship Fund" written on the memo line, and mailed to Kappa Alpha Theta, 8740 Founders Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46268, attn.: Friendship Fund.
On January 27 each year, we celebrate Kappa Alpha Theta and what she has brought us: the opportunities for leadership and spreading the widest influence for good, the encouragement in our intellectual endeavors, and the love and support of sisters. We also celebrate our four founders for their vision and hard work in creating our Fraternity.
By designating January 27 as "Founders Day," we recognize Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie together, as a group. In fact, almost 150 years after these young women first walked into the chapel at Asbury College wearing their kite-shaped badges, it can be hard to think of them as individuals.
Yet individuals they were, each with her own character, abilities, and interests. Because their lives shaped Theta's past and were the inspiration for the values that continue to shape Theta's future, we have dedicated each of the next four years to one of our founders. In 2016, we honor Elizabeth Tipton Lindsey.
Bettie Tipton was known for her scholarship: she was so well-prepared for college that she entered Asbury as a sophomore. Bettie demonstrated leadership; she was not only a founder of the first Greek-letter fraternity for women, but she was also a founder of the Philomathean literary society at Asbury. Bettie was a good friend, known for her humor and cheerfulness. Most of all, Bettie was kind and generous, spreading the widest influence for good in each of the communities in which she lived. She was especially concerned with caring for neglected and disadvantaged children.
Today, Bettie's commitment to service is manifested by Theta's ongoing relationship with CASA and our support of Theta Foundation. It is reflected in one of the three aspirations that form the basis of Theta's strategic plan. And—most relevant to Founders Day—it is exemplified by our Friendship Fund, which provides monetary comfort and support to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship.
This Founders Day, we honor Bettie Tipton Lindsey and her legacy of service. Let us follow her example and remember that each of us has the opportunity to impact lives and create a more kind and generous world.
Download this message to use for your chapter's Founders Day celebration.
Who were these women? Of course they were Thetas; in fact, they were the first Thetas. They were our founders, the original Kappa Alpha Theta leading women.
This Founders Day, for the 145th time, we pause to commemorate and honor the perseverance, independence, and faith of Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie. Their vision has stood the test of time, and although much has changed since 1870, the values upon which Theta was founded as the first Greek-letter fraternity for women have not. They remain as relevant today as they were 50, 100, and—yes—nearly 150 years ago.
How many organizations for women have not only survived but thrived for nearly one and a half centuries? Not many! I believe Theta continues to flourish because each of us—like our founders—continually strives to personify our ideals and manifest our ritual in unique and powerful ways. Our ideals and ritual are not simply words we say; they are commitments we have made.
On Founders Day, we celebrate not only our history, but also our potential. In Kappa Alpha Theta, our founders created a singular opportunity to learn, serve, and grow in a supportive environment. They created a sisterhood in which we give kind and thoughtful care to one another. And they created a platform upon which we can build and expand to meet new challenges, while staying true to our purpose. Please join me in taking some time this Founders Day to reflect upon what a treasure our Fraternity is and to renew your pledge to its advancement and welfare.
One of the purest affirmations of our commitment to one another is the Friendship Fund. Established to provide gifts to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship, the love and support it demonstrates are proof that Theta is larger than ourselves and that what we give to one another comes full circle. One recipient wrote, "I really cannot put into words my appreciation for the recent gift I received from the Friendship Fund. When I opened your letter, it immediately brought tears to my eyes. I will be forever grateful and hope to someday be on the other end and give back to a sister in need of my help. I am very proud and privileged to be a Theta."
This Founders Day, we can all feel proud of our determined, confident, passionate, and caring founders, just as we can feel privileged to be part of the sisterhood they began, a sisterhood that helps shape us as leading women.
Download this message to use for your chapter's Founders Day celebration.
Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie lived in a world without these things, and it is because of their longing to have them, as well as their vision and hard work in founding our Fraternity, that we are linked heart to heart with women all over the world—women we may never meet in person—who are our sisters because of Theta.
Each year on January 27, we celebrate not only our founders but also all the Thetas who have followed them, the more than 200,000 women who have ensured the continuation of our founders' dreams. Thetas are pioneers... role models... philanthropists... mentors... champions... innovators. We aspire to excellence; we strive for wide and wise human service; we help one another achieve lifelong opportunities for social, intellectual, and moral growth; we define the path for future generations of women. And we are loyal sisters, standing together throughout one another's lives.
One of the purest affirmations of this sisterhood is the Friendship Fund, which we also celebrate every January 27th. Established in 1926, it is based on a beautiful, timeless idea—sisters reaching out to sisters. The Friendship Fund demonstrates care and love by providing monetary support to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship due to serious or terminal illness, job loss, natural disaster, and other devastating occurrences.
One very important aspect of the Fund is the secrecy surrounding the giving of gifts. Two members write on behalf of a sister, and the Friendship Fund committee determines the award amount. The requesters remain anonymous, and all records are confidential. During times of need, the Friendship Fund has made all the difference to hundreds of Thetas.
The Friendship Fund is also a tangible display of our ritual, which instills in us the belief that Kappa Alpha Theta is larger than ourselves and that what we give to one another comes full circle. The Friendship Fund helps us remember what a powerful force Theta can be in our own lives and in the lives of others.
The Friendship Fund provides gifts to Thetas experiencing extreme financial hardship due to serious or terminal illness, job loss, natural disaster, and other devastating occurrences. It was created after Rachel Sumner, Chi/Syracuse, spoke about a Theta in serious financial need at the 1924 Convention. She asked if there was any way the Fraternity could help her sister, and that act initiated the establishment of the Fund in 1926. Grand Council suggested that it be supported through contributions made at Founders Day celebrations, which means it is an 86-year-old tradition!
According to the Bimonthly, February 1927 (early version of the Bulletin), they raised $377.22 ($4,740 in today's dollars) in the first ever collection of funds. Oklahoma City alumnae, Stillwater Club, Alpha Omicron, and Beta Zeta together sent in $87.28, the most of any group.
Maybe you've donated without knowing what the Friendship Fund is. Or, maybe you haven't donated because you didn't know what it does and whom it serves. These facts may give you some perspective.
• 37 members received Friendship Fund gifts,
• 1,340 gifts, totaling $108,527, were donated,
• $81 was the average donation,
• $10,000 was the largest donation.
Members in need do not request Friendship Fund gifts; rather, two members must write on behalf of the sister. The requests and donations remain anonymous, and all records are kept confidential.
A neat fact is that most members who request gifts for their sisters are members of an alumnae chapter, who have been familiar with, and may have donated to, the Fund for many years. Rachel Sumner certainly did. She maintained her alumnae chapter involvement until she passed away in 1999. She once said, "Theta has meant so much to me because it was always there, no matter where I was." And that describes the purpose of the Fund more than anything else.
You can learn more about this fantastic resource for sisters in need on the Fraternity website.
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