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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, October 9, 2017 07:16 AM, by Ellen Barlow

Kappa Alpha Theta will celebrate Day of Service for the ninth time this year on October 19, Bettie Locke Hamilton's birthday. Theta's newly defined Philanthropy Philosophy quotes the words of Former Fraternity President Adelaide McDonald Sinclair, Sigma/Toronto: "The world should be a better place because Kappa Alpha theta exists." In Adelaide's spirit, Theta categorizes philanthropy in the following three areas:


  • Service, focusing on hands-on volunteering for others;

  • Fundraising, or collecting monetary or in-kind donations for causes close to our hearts; and

  • Advocacy, or championing a cause through public support, education, and awareness.

As Day of Service's name suggests, we want our members to focus on the first of the three categories—service. There are plenty of resources on the this website related to Day of Service, from planning to promoting to participating in the annual photo contest.


Our world has been full of heartache for many people recently. From neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville to several natural disasters occurring one right after another, it seems each news day is more overwhelming than the last. It is not easy to watch our neighbors suffer—lives lost, property destroyed, and worlds turned upside down. It's only been a few weeks since Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and surrounding areas. Days later, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and parts of Florida, followed closely by Jose and Maria, which took out power on the entire island of Puerto Rico. Couple these with two massive earthquakes in Mexico, a typhoon in the Philippines, and the most recent tragic mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas, and we can feel helpless, even paralyzed. But in dark times, the world needs our light all the more—our sparks of consciousness and caring have the power to change lives for the better.


Day of Service can be a reminder that while we cannot do everything, we all have the capacity to do something. One of Theta's three aims is to exercise the widest influence for good, and thus, Kappa Alpha Theta aspires to cultivate philanthropists, who demonstrate tangible works to seek positive change in their communities. As a callback to this, Kappa Alpha Theta staff will be participating in Day of Service by serving two organizations whose missions focus on serving historically marginalized populations in our local Indianapolis community— New Hope of Indiana and Groundwork Indy. We encourage you to do the same.


Whether you live in an area affected by the most recent storms and wish to assist with the ongoing relief efforts or you simply want to serve an organization you care about, Day of Service is about the power of one multiplied by 200,000—the number of living, initiated members around the world. Imagine the impact Thetas can have, if we all give just a little bit of our time to serve others. We hope you will join us in lifting our lanterns and forging ahead to spread the widest influence for good.

Ellen Barlow is an assistant director of education and leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Monday, August 17, 2015 08:30 AM, by Ellen Barlow
It's that time of year again to start planning for Kappa Alpha Theta's annual International Day of Service, celebrated each year on or around our founder Bettie Locke's birthday (October 19). In preparation, we want to help collegians and alumnae plan and execute their Day of Service activities to align with the Fraternity's aim to exercise the widest influence for good; encourage continued, meaningful, and sustained community service work; and provide significant education and reflection around the work in which our members choose to participate.

What is Day of Service?

Theta launched Day of Service in 2009 as a way to take time out of our busy lives one day a year to honor our commitment to exercise the widest influence for good. It's the power of one multiplied by 200,000—the number of living, initiated members around the world.

So, what does service mean anyway, and how is it different than philanthropy?

Service is the act of volunteering to benefit a community with the knowledge that one will not receive payment. It's a hands-on activity where one interacts with the organization being served. Service focuses on creating positive change in the community where both the server and the served learn from their interaction, and allows one to make a connection between herself, the skills she has to offer, and the needs of the community in which she is working. Philanthropy, on the other hand, is about giving money or goods through donations or fundraisers to benefit a cause. Goods here can include canned food, backpacks full of school supplies, or even life-saving blood. Service focuses on time volunteered, while philanthropy focuses on monetary fundraising or goods donation. Both are expressly important,: Without funding, organizations/causes cannot pay for their resources to help others; and without gifts of time and talent, organizations/causes often don't have the capacity to provide the services needed to help others.

Why does this matter?

For Theta's Day of Service, we encourage members to participate in meaningful community service, either direct or indirect. Direct service activities require personal contact with the people you are serving. These types of activities are generally the most rewarding as we, while helping others, receive immediate positive feedback. Examples include working with senior citizens or serving a meal at a community kitchen. Indirect experiences are just as important, and they're easy to organize, don't often require the amount of training that some direct service does, and involve volunteers working behind the scenes. Examples include painting a room at the agency, raking leaves, organizing donations, or preparing a mailing. Though these jobs might not seem glamorous, they are essential in maintaining a safe, welcoming, and effective organization. Your indirect service work may create more time for the organization's staff to work with and on behalf of those they serve. When giving your time, remember to keep an open mind and be glad you can help.

What does Day of Service have to do with me as a Theta?

As Thetas, we are called to be leading women and work toward the Fraternity's aim to exercise the widest influence for good.



In the coming weeks, this blog series will provide Day of Service event planning ideas, reflection on what it means to serve and how we can think about it differently than we have in the past, and all sorts of resources and information in between. But for now, simply reflect on your Theta membership and the Fraternity's purpose, and commit to participating in a meaningful service activity on (or around) October 19, 2015. It's going to be a great day to be a leading woman!

Ellen Barlow is an assistant director of education and leadership for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Friday, May 8, 2015 08:45 AM, by Melissa Shaub
We did it!

This week via social media and through an email to members, we asked Thetas and their friends to help us raise $25,000 in 25 hours to help 25 children in celebration of our 25-year relationship with National Court Appointed Special Advocates. We are pleased to share that we exceeded our goal! At least 27 children (we are still tallying the donations!) will receive the support of a CASA thanks to the hundreds of Thetas and their friends who worked together to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten!

This 25-hour challenge is just one way Theta remains an ardent supporter of CASA after 25 years. Thetas continually demonstrate their commitment to the cause by serving as volunteers for CASA and, as revealed through this drive, as powerful advocates to spread awareness. Through their fundraising efforts, our college and alumnae chapters provide local CASA organizations with much-needed support in their respective communities. Through donations received throughout the year, Theta Foundation makes quarterly grants to National CASA to help provide essential training, educational materials, and advocacy work that benefit the nationwide network.

No matter how you choose to support CASA, rest assured you are making it possible for a qualified, compassionate adult to fight for and protect a child's right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.

The 25-hour challenge may be over, but the impact of our generosity is only just beginning! Our thanks to Thetas and friends for continuing to spread the widest influence for good and for leading the way for this worthwhile cause.

Learn more about Theta's relationship with CASA and how you can continue to help.

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education and leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 09:20 AM, by Melissa Shaub
For 25 years, Kappa Alpha Theta and National Court Appointed Special Advocates have shared a partnership rooted in a shared belief that every abused or neglected child should be safe, establish permanence, and have the opportunity to thrive. During our partnership, Thetas have been advocates, contributed countless volunteer hours, and provided millions of dollars in support of national and local CASA programs. Unfortunately, the number of children in foster care is rising, and there are thousands of children who do not have a voice because they don't have a CASA.

We know it costs approximately $1,000 a year to fund a CASA volunteer for one child—a cost that is just one third spent for one month in foster care. Throughout our 25-year partnership, Thetas have contributed more than $1.2 million to Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation's grant to National CASA, and in a three-hour period and through $5 contributions, attendees at the 2014 Grand Convention raised enough money so that Theta Foundation could provide 14 children with a CASA volunteer for a year.

Today, we're going to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten children - and we can't do this without you (and your friends). We are a Fraternity of more than 200,000+ members, but it would only take 1,000 of us making gifts of $25 to reach our goal of providing 25 children with a CASA volunteer for a year. Every gift of every size matters—big or small—and every member can make a difference. For the next 25 hours, we are asking Thetas to do what they do best, and to work together, to meet our goal of $25,000 in 25 hours. We know that when Thetas come together to spread the widest influence for good, anything is possible!

Donate today! When filling out the online form, make sure to select Restricted Donation and National CASA so that your donation is credited appropriately. And...follow along with the #Theta25CASA hashtag to receive updates!

The CASA 25th Anniversary Donation Drive is a joint effort between Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and Theta Foundation.

Posted On: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 08:00 AM, by Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Epsilon Omega/
Washington & Jefferson
The main reason I became involved with Theta after graduation was because of my CASA involvement as an undergraduate with my Theta chapter. During my time at Washington & Jefferson College, our Epsilon Omega chapter was active with CASA in raising money during Carnival Weekend for our volleyball tournament.

Since July 2010, when our local CASA organization—CASA for Children, Inc.—came into being, I have served as a member of the board of directors (including past president and secretary, and current treasurer). Our CASA organization proudly serves children in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties in West Virginia.

It is extremely rewarding for me to serve on the CASA board. CASA works to serve the best interest of children during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Through my family law practice, I've unfortunately seen first-hand some devastating cases of abuse and neglect. CASA works to ensure that these children are in a safe and loving environment (whether that means reunification with their families or not), and if reunification is not possible, to assist them in achieving permanency in a forever home.

In 2014, our CASA for Children program provided advocacy for more than 270 children, helping 115 achieve permanency, through the help of 34 volunteer advocates and three staff members. Our program spearheads the West Virginia statewide fostering futures initiative serving youth ages 14-21. We have trained more than 100 volunteers around the state, and currently 55 youth have the benefit of a specially trained CASA volunteer to help them gain the skills necessary for independence.

Although we've had various fundraisers over the years, in 2014, we had our first annual Superhero 5K, which was a great success! Our second annual Superhero 5K is scheduled for April 18.

I'm very proud and privileged to work with our executive director, Susan Harrison, the other board members, and all the wonderful volunteers. Abuse and neglect cases can be devastating for a child, but I'm proud to say that through CASA we can give those children a voice.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or want to learn more about your local CASA organization, visit the National CASA website.

Lisa Bagay Hawrot, Epsilon Omega/Washington & Jefferson, is an attorney specializing in complex domestic relations and abuse and neglect law in Wheeling, W.V.

Posted On: Monday, January 19, 2015 08:00 AM, by Valerie Holloway Skinner
Valerie Skinner
Epsilon Epsilon/
Baylor
In June 2014, Valerie spoke at the CASA Breakfast at Grand Convention in Orlando, Fla. Many Thetas were inspired by Valerie's story and in the few short hours following the breakfast, attendees raised nearly $14,000 with the help of a matching gift from her family foundation.



My name is Valerie Skinner and I am honored to have been asked to share with you my personal, as well as my family's, financial commitment to CASA over the years. I'd like to paint a picture for you of why our family has chosen to support CASA through Theta Foundation since 1999.

As a couple, my parents agreed that the most important role they had was to make sure the physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs of their children were being met to the best of their abilities. They made many sacrifices over the years to make sure we had nutritious food to eat, new shoes to wear, and good schools to attend. They helped us with our homework, monitored our chores, attended our sporting events, took us to church, and drove us back and forth to all of our volunteer activities.

Was my life perfect growing up? No. But was I completely secure every single day of my formative years that my parents wanted me, loved me, and would provide for me until I was old enough to provide for myself? YES. And because I had that strong, safe, supportive foundation, I have been able to repeat that cycle with my own family. Clearly, I won the parent lottery, and I bet many of you did, too. If you're a child in the foster care system, however, your life looks much different.

As Thetas, we are in a unique position of being in a partnership with an exceptional agency that knows how to show children that someone cares about them. And that this caring person can be trusted to help find them a safe, permanent home where they can thrive and become all they were meant to be.

My dad used to tell me a story about when he was in the first or second grade. His teacher had instructed each child to bring a dime to class to buy a War Bond to support the efforts of the soldiers fighting in World War II. My dad's mother died when he was 3, and because his family was so poor, his stepmother told him they couldn't spare a dime, and so he felt deeply hurt and embarrassed to be the only child who didn't have anything to give. He never forgot that feeling, telling me many times, "Valerie, don't ever be a person who doesn't have a dime to give away." Possibly the most important lesson my father ever taught me was to always be the person who chooses to give. And since he led by such clear example, it was an easy lesson to embrace and understand.

At this stage in my life, I am not going to be able to serve as a judge in a family court. I am not likely to become a CPS worker or even a foster or adoptive parent. Because of other commitments in my life, I currently am not in a position to serve as a CASA advocate. But I do have a dime to give away. And I bet you do, too.

You may already be involved in a fundraiser in your community for your local CASA organization, which is great, but today I am asking you to consider supporting the work of the national organization, because your local chapter relies on them to provide training curriculum, technical support, quality assurance, volunteer recruitment and public awareness. We also rely on our national organization to distribute federal grants and secure private and corporate dollars. The dollars you are raising locally are more efficiently and effectively utilized because of the oversight of our national organization.

As we celebrate our 25th year with CASA, nothing would make me a prouder Theta than to see your dimes and my dimes working together to secure the future of children who are counting on us to care.

Valerie Holloway Skinner, Epsilon Epsilon/Baylor, is a member of the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter and is a charter Life Loyal Theta.


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