Mary Lincoln Campbell

Volunteering for Theta: An Investment That Keeps Giving Back

As I write this greeting, I have just returned from a lakeside gathering of several of my pledge sisters. Having pledged in 1964 – our first way of staying connected was through a chain of hand-written letters – we have had many such gatherings. Our home addresses are scattered through the northeast, the southeast, the Midwest and the west, and yet the home we shared during those college years continues to link us together. We share glad times and sad times, and continue to be “there” for one another in a way that we treasure. We are grateful that the Alpha Chi Chapter at Purdue University was there to welcome us and to bind us into sisterhood in such a sustainable way.

These last five years began with an event I recommend to everyone. We shared a reunion with two classes ahead of us and two classes behind us, and held it at our chapter house. None of us had been there recently, and many of us had not been there since our college years. Some of the college members who lived nearby joined us for dinner one evening, which was followed by sharing songs in the living room. Each class tried to remember its class song for which we had written lyrics tied to a popular tune of the appropriate vintage. The collegians listened to us and then sang for us. While their tempo was much more rapid than ours, we recognized the words.

While we were visiting, we were both touching the house in which we had lived and that which had been added to many years later. Purdue has a vital Greek community, and many sorority houses expanded in the early 1990s to accommodate interest. We were struck by the fact that our chapter house carried a mortgage from that expansion. We also noted that much of the public space was in need of a facelift, and that the facility corporation board (FCB) needed members. Fully energized by our stay at the chapter house and our interactions with the college members, several of us began to work with Fraternity headquarters to update relevant documents, hold an annual meeting, and offer ourselves as FCB members.

What a wonderful journey it has been and continues to be. We updated our database, created an alumnae website, and launched a newsletter that had been dormant for many years. We completed an exceptionally successful capital campaign to pay off nearly 90% of our mortgage. We arranged a beautiful and fun-filled weekend to celebrate our chapter’s centennial. As I write this, the first floor of our chapter house is being renovated. Throughout this process, we have made new friends and reconnected with old ones. We have connected with many at Theta headquarters in Indianapolis as well as with volunteers.

Time is such a gift to each of us. None of us is given more than 24 hours a day. We choose how to invest that time. Work. family, and friends, as well as other good works, compete for our talents. I can say as I enter my sixth and final year as the FCB president, it is an investment that gives back to me in countless ways. I recommend volunteering for Theta to each of you, and am eager to talk to you about my own experience if it is something you are considering for yourself.