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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.
Thetas have positive feelings toward our Fraternity! An overwhelming number (17,526) of alumnae and collegians recently completed the online member engagement and satisfaction survey. The feedback we received is invaluable to better understand the interests and priorities of our members.
Some highlights from the survey include:
- More than nine out of ten members (92 percent) have very positive or somewhat positive feelings toward Kappa Alpha Theta.
- Most Thetas consider themselves at least somewhat engaged with the Fraternity. Over a quarter (27 percent) of members considers themselves moderately engaged, and one in four considers herself either highly or very highly engaged (22 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
- Most college seniors (90 percent) indicate that they plan to stay involved with Theta in some way after graduating.
- Of all events surveyed, Founders Day celebrations had the highest rate of participation with 70 percent of members having participated, followed by Day of Service (42 percent).
- Thetas place high value on service- and assistance-oriented offerings that help fellow members and contribute to the greater good.
- Survey respondents represented all age groups. Thirty-three percent were under age 23; 18 percent were ages 23 to 34, 17 percent were between 35 and 50; 17 percent were ages 51 to 65; 15 percent were over age 65.
Although we are very pleased with the results, we have a lofty vision for the future of Kappa Alpha Theta. Results from the survey will be used in the pursuit and realization of Kappa Alpha Theta's Plan of Aspirations, developed to guide our organization through 2019. You can read more about this plan and our vision for the future in the Spring issue of the Theta magazine.
On January 27, I invite you to join me in a celebration. Of course, it is a celebration of Founders Day, but it is a Founders Day celebration like no other. It is the beginning of something very special.
In just four short years, Kappa Alpha Theta will be 150 years old. Not many organizations can say that! Yet our Fraternity has not only survived but thrived for a century and a half. That is definitely cause for celebration!
There are many reasons behind the enduring power of Theta sisterhood. Four reasons are our founders: Bettie Locke Hamilton, Alice Allen Brant, Hannah Fitch Shaw, and Bettie Tipton Lindsey. They had the inspiration to form the first Greek-letter Fraternity known among women, and they also had the perseverance, courage, and faith to make their vision a reality.
As we plan for our 150th anniversary in 2020, we will dedicate one year of the next four to each of our founders, beginning with Bettie Tipton Lindsey. Bettie was known for her generous spirit and her care for children who were orphaned or otherwise neglected.
So this Founders Day—January 27—we will begin 150 Days of Celebrating Service. For this special campaign, Thetas everywhere will honor Bettie Tipton Lindsey and advocate for, volunteer for, and donate to a variety of important causes, as well as recognize individual Thetas for being true philanthropists.
Here's how you can join me in this celebration!
- Visit 150ThetaDays.org to choose the activities you can participate in to make a difference for important causes. (150ThetaDays.org also offers fascinating insights into Bettie's life as well as a video interview with her great-niece, a Theta from Gamma Pi/Iowa State.)
- Use the hashtag #Theta150 on social media to view and share posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Share your service stories on facebook.com/KappaAlphaTheta.
As we look forward to our 150th anniversary, let's follow Bettie Tipton Lindsey's example by seeking ways to incorporate service in our lives, by being of service to others, and by recognizing Thetas who have been of great service.
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.
The 2015 Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Day of Service is over, the deadline for photo contest submissions has passed, and now I pause to reflect on all the amazing work that was done on Bettie's birthday, as well as look ahead to next year. We have had nearly 40 submissions for the photo contest, which means at least that many college and alumnae chapters participated in the day (we know there are more of you, so please be sure to fill out the Day of Service form in the Officer Portal to let us know what you did), which is absolutely amazing! From visiting nursing home residents to cleaning up the beach, from sorting food donations at an area food bank to working with the local Guardian Ad Litem to put on a carnival for foster children, from serving at a local animal shelter to working at an organization that refurbishes furniture to give to families living in poverty, you all exercised the widest influence for good and embodied what it means to be leading women.
Here at Theta headquarters, we served in two shifts at Gleaners Food Bank, central Indiana's largest food bank that distributes food to hungry Hoosiers through a network of more than 250 partner agencies, including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. The first shift, which included Executive Director Betsy Corridan (and her two sons who were on fall break), volunteered in the cooler, helping to sort and organize refrigerated food so that the local agencies they serve can distribute fresh food to their clients. They were a bit chilly, but had a fantastic time! We in the afternoon shift relabeled three pallets' worth of canned corn - the warehouse staff person on site said we were the fastest labelers he'd ever seen! - and repacked four pallets' worth of "backsacks," bags of food sent home with hungry school children on Friday afternoons so that they have something to eat over the weekend. We had an amazing time working with an awesome organization, serving alongside one another.
My hope is that October 19 was just a jumping off point for you to explore what it means to serve meaningfully and with intention and purpose. I challenge you to find an organization you care about in your community, contact them, and see what opportunities they have available for ongoing service, and then commit to going as often as you are able - once a quarter, once a month, once a week...
All the while, we must continue to think about the larger social issues the organizations we work with are trying to solve, how we can break down stereotypes about the people we serve, and always reflect on the impact we are making.
For now, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes about service:
• "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." —John Wesley
• "We ourselves feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." —Mother Teresa
• "No man or woman, even of the humblest sort, can really be strong, gentle, pure and good without the world being better for it; without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness." —Phillips Brooks
• "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It's hard to believe we are just one week away from Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity's Day of Service, in celebration of Bettie Locke's birthday on October 19. Here are some final tips and reminders:
- When you are serving next week, remember that you are representing your chapter and and Kappa Alpha Theta. Pay attention to the Tips for Media Relations, and use the information provided to not only represent yourselves well on social and other media, but also the organization with which you are working. Making a good impression on the organization is key in building a meaningful relationship.
- Use social media to promote your chapter's or group's participation. The hashtag is #ThetaService, and view sample social media messages. In addition, don't forget to submit photos for the Day of Service Photo Contest, the object of which is to show the impact you and/or your chapter is making in your community. Thetas should be included in the photos, and action shots are strongly encouraged. Please make sure the people are organization you are serving are represented with dignity and respect. You are encouraged to wear your Greek letters or Theta apparel during your Day of Service activities. Please note that photos must be high-resolution without filters, and submission of collages or Instagram photos is discouraged. Photos will be accepted for submission from October 19 - November 2.
- Don't forget about reflection! As I've said before, taking time to reflect on service experiences helps us critically assess what we are seeing and doing. The most effective service experiences are those that provide structured opportunities for participants to reflect on the work they did. Reflection activities can be found on the Day of Service Plan page.
As Leading Women, we are called to exercise the widest influence for good. My hope for you is that your Day of Service experience will help you understand that idea a little bit better, and will inspire you to continue doing good in your community.
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