TO D AY ’ S F R I E N D S , TO M O R ROW ’ S L E A D E R S , F O R E V E R I N S E RV I C E
N AT I O N A L
OMEGA CHAPTER RETURNS See page 7
New Omega sisters Nikki Demos and Brianna Brothers
VOLUME 47 | 003 The Chevron is a quarterly newsletter produced for Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority alumnae and active sisters. National Executive Board Members President / Heather Pritchard VP Business Operations / Kasey Stevens VP Programs / Brittany Thornton VP Communications / Thea Moritz VP Finance / Leann Williams VP Expansions / Jessica Toms VP Chapter Support / Rachel Whitten VP Alumnae Relations / Ginger McGarity VP Administration / Trista Guzman VP Membership / Megan Johnston Past President / Andie Bowman Hixon
by Heather Pritchard (Nu), National President
Spring has sprung! I hope that this Chevron finds you well. Every five years, OPA writes a strategic plan, which we refer to as our “Vision.” Our current strategic plan, Vision 2015, wraps up this summer. I’m continually reviewing previous years of the plan to see just how far we’ve come…and I’d like to take a few moments to brag on OPA by outlining just a few of the accomplishments we’ve made since rolling out this plan in July 2010:
Chevron Editors Editor / Thea Moritz Copy Editor / Donna Pintek Writer / Brooke Cancilliari Layout Editor / Shelley Lai Distribution The Chevron is mailed out four times a year to all alumnae and active OPA chapters. Distribution dates are as follows: October 1, January 1, April 1 and July 1. Submissions Articles for the Chevron are written by active sisters and alumnae. If you would like to submit a feature story about an alumnae or a special project happening at your chapter, please email it to: email@example.com Photos may also be submitted in jpg format. National Office Mailing Address Omega Phi Alpha National Office PO Box 955 East Lyme, CT 06333 Official National Website www.omegaphialpha.org
✔ Launched a national leadership o development program ✔ Launched a national membership o database to consolidate member information ✔ Obtained national liability insurance o and implemented risk management procedures ✔ Restructured OPA’s national volunteer o positions, implementing a Board of Directors and a middle management structure ✔ Increased member retention and o implemented standardized recruitment processes ✔ Increased chapter membership size and o number of chapters If you’ve volunteered with OPA in the past five years, give yourself a pat on the back for contributing to these great achievements! Currently, we’re in the midst of writing our newest strategic plan, Vision 2020. I keep resisting the urge to call this 20/20 Vision, even though I’m hoping that’s the kind of foresight we’ll have when we are writing this!
In April, a group of 12 actives and alumnae will travel to Dallas, Texas, to draft the majority of the plan. I love our strategic planning meetings, because I get to hear so many opinions about OPA from women who have had vastly different OPA experiences. As always, a reminder that our National Convention is coming up from July 16–19 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Registration opened on March 15. Follow OPA on social media for the registration link. If you join us at Convention, you’ll be the first to hear about all the details of our Vision 2020 plan! So with that, go out, do good things, and make OPhiA proud. OPA love, Heather Pritchard
Complete Sorority Contact List To request a complete contact list of all sorority officers, appointments and chapter addresses, please email VPadmin@omegaphialpha.org Update Your Contact Information members.omegaphialpha.org
/OmegaPhiAlphaNationalServiceSorority @OmegaPhiAlpha @ophia67 Join our group on LinkedIn: Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority
Rock City Gardens
Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau
CONVENTION 2015 “Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are”
—Brooke Cancilliari (Gamma), Chevron writer
by Kasey Stevens (Phi), VP Business Operations Your Convention committee has been hard at work planning what we hope will be the best Convention yet! The event is set to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Chattanooga, Tenn., from July 16–19. We are pulling out all the stops this year, and changing things up, as we plan on making your experience something to remember. We have taken our sisters’ feedback from previous Conventions and made some dramatic changes to the schedule and events. We shortened the schedule this year, so please take note: Convention officially begins at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, and ends around 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, when President Heather Pritchard declares the event’s adjournment. During this time, ALL voting delegates (active and alumnae) should be present for required activities. Convention will of course include the traditional activities—discussing and voting on our national budget and legislative agenda, electing national leaders, recognizing our sisterhood’s accomplishments, understanding the sorority’s strategic plan for the future,
conducting some of our most sacred ceremonies, and without a doubt meeting sisters from across the country who live, love and breathe Omega Phi Alpha just as much as you do. In addition to these events, we have organized some amazing opportunities to develop sisterhood as well as learn more about our amazing host city of Chattanooga. We welcome
July 16–19 (and encourage) you to come to Chattanooga early to take part in a variety of organized sightseeing options we’ve put together for your enjoyment. Attendees arriving on Wednesday, July 15, can visit the Tennessee Aquarium, take a speedboat up the river, gaze at amazing works of American Art at the Hunter Art Museum, or have fun at the Creative Discovery Museum (one of the top children’s museums in the country). Later that evening, you can join fellow Convention
Chattanooga Choo Choo
attendees for a dinner tour of Chattanooga on the Duck, a renovated WWII amphibious landing craft. In addition to Wednesday’s activities and adventures, we encourage you to join our Convention service project on Thursday morning, prior to Convention officially being called to order. For more information, see page 8. We also invite you to join our Convention kick-off luncheon, so try to get to town by noon; there is sure to be some delicious food waiting for you. Convention registration opened in mid-March and closes promptly on June 1. Registration as well as resources and information about Convention (prices, schedule, etc.) can be found at www.regonline.com/OPAConvention2015. Registration fees will be set at $80 and lodging at a quadruple occupancy will be set at $37.81 per night. Omega Phi Alpha’s negotiated hotel rates will be available for three days prior to and following Convention dates. We are extremely excited for the event and we cannot wait to share Convention 2015 with you. If you have any questions about Convention 2015, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you in Chattanooga! SPRING 2015
SPRING SUMMITS UNDERWAY District summits are for sisters from each district/region to gather and enjoy sisterhood and to gain leadership training. Several summits have already taken place this spring including Azalea (March 5, Kennesaw, GA), Bluegrass (March 21, Nashville, TN), Carolina (Feb. 7, Raleigh, NC), Lone Star (Jan. 30â€“31, San Marcos, TX), and Peaches and Beaches (Feb. 21, Gainesville, FL). Sisters shared ideas, conducted service projects, and held workshops. For a slide show from Lone Star, visit https://instagram.com/p/ykZbBBMF8k/ For a video from Carolina, see https://instagram.com/p/y2R6x4E62H/ For Cactus Pine and Liberty summit photos, visit the national OPA Facebook page.
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Peaches & Beaches
Omega Phi Alpha and Taxes Federal Taxes • Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority is currently designated as a 501(c)(4) organization. That means it is a nonprofit organization that does not pay federal income tax. • 501(c)(4) status does NOT provide our donors with the ability to claim a tax deduction for their donations to Omega Phi Alpha. • We are in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status, which would make donations to OPA eligible as a deduction for the donor. You will be notified when the status has been achieved. • Omega Phi Alpha Scholarship Trust is a 501(c)(3) organization. That means it is a nonprofit organization that does not pay federal income tax AND donations to the scholarship trust ARE eligible as a tax deduction for the donor.
Sales Taxes • An exemption from federal income taxes—regardless of the status—does not mean that an organization is also exempt from sales taxes, which are determined by state and local authorities. An organization must apply with the state to obtain sales tax exemption. • Sales tax exemption is decided on a stateby-state basis, although many states have now adopted a multistate form that can be used for organizations that operate in multiple states. • Sales tax exemption refers to an exemption from paying sales tax on items that you purchase; it does not cover the taxes on items that you sell. • You should check with your student organization office on campus for information on sales tax regulations in your area. Contact Leann Williams, VP Finance, at email@example.com for information about individual states sales tax.
OPA Looks Ahead to New Vision and New Branding
You may have recently been asked to participate in an online survey about OPA’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The information that is gathered will be put to good use enhancing OPA’s goals and initiatives going forward. The NEB and the strategic committee have begun work on writing OPA’s Vision 2020 strategic plan with The Harral Group of Fort Worth, Texas. Paul Harral and his associate, Carlela Vogel, traveled to the NEB’s mid-year meeting in Austin last January for a preliminary exploratory discussion. This led to the SWOT and stakeholders surveys that were distributed in February. In April the committee will meet to review the results and draft a plan. At the same time, OPA’s overall communications efforts are in the process of being overhauled with the help of Willow Marketing of Indianapolis, Ind. Director of Strategy Mandy Haskett and Art Director Zach Thomas also came to the mid-year meeting to kickoff OPA’s rebranding project, which will then lead right into a brand new national website. They conducted a communications audit and interviewed prominent members to assess our current state and provide recommendations. As OPA continues to grow into a larger, more sophisticated organization, there will be ample opportunities to spotlight our many accomplishments and promote the organization in a professional manner via a variety of communications platforms! This is our time to show the world how amazing OPA is.
President-Elect Now on the Ballot
Due to an unforeseen dependency between the constitutional amendments presented at Convention 2014, there was a critical gap in the election schedule for the role of national president. Specifically, our current president’s term ends in 2016, but the constitution did not allow for the election of the next president until 2017. A constitutional amendment was presented to the delegation from Convention 2014 in January to remedy this situation. The motion that passed will allow for the election of a new president at Convention 2015. The newly elected leader will serve as president-elect for one year shadowing the sitting president, and will be sworn in as national president in 2016. She will serve as national president for one year until the adjournment of Convention 2017. President Elect requirements: • Ability to delegate responsibilities •H ave a strong, working knowledge of the policies and procedures, constitution and bylaws, and traditions of Omega Phi Alpha •A bility to multitask and manage a variety of projects at one time •A ble to build team relationships among the NEB •A ble to provide support and guidance to active chapter presidents
•P rovide strategic guidance to the organization •A ble to be a positive role model and representative for the organization The newly elected leader will serve as president-elect for one year shadowing the sitting president, and will be sworn in as national president in 2016. She will serve as national president for one year until the adjournment of Convention 2017.
For more information on open national positions, please contact the Nomination Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.omegaphialpha.org for a petition for office under Quick Links > Elections. Questions about a specific role can be directed to the NEB member currently in that position.
—Pamela McEwen (Epsilon), former VP Advancement
Membership Update At least 15 chapters conducted a spring rush, welcoming about 235 new pledges into the Omega Phi Alpha sisterhood! Considering that spring classes are usually small, this is a great turnout and we are very excited! Alpha Kappa brought in its largest pledge class ever with 34 new sisters, and congratulations to the Rutgers Colony on its first rush, which turned out 30 new sisters into its Alpha class! Good luck to all our new pledges as they complete OPA 101 this semester and become active later in the term. Support your local chapter and try to attend activation if you’re able!
Super Success Sundays: Career Development Series Below are the dates and topics for the upcoming career development webinars. The webinars will be one hour long; 4-5 p.m. CST. This group of webinars begins next month and goes through the Sunday before Convention. Email email@example.com if you have any questions or to sign up. March 29 Career Clusters, Part 1–2 April 12 Resume Writing/Enhancement May 24 (Graduation Edition) Interview Skills/Tips June 7 Networking July 12 Goal Setting/SWOT Analysis
50th Anniversary Planning Close your eyes and imagine you are at the 50th anniversary of Omega Phi Alpha…. What do you envision? Simple and elegant? Glamour and glitz? Amazing opportunities for extraordinary service? We’d like to know! Planning for the celebration of OPA’s first 50 years has begun. To make sure the event is as fabulous as it can be, we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please send your ideas—big or small—to Andie Hixson at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to get involved, we need people to help plan, decorate and/or coordinate. Check out the VolSpot sign up online to see if there is a volunteer position for the 50th that sounds fun for you. http://vols.pt/4GJtA8 Lastly, save the date for the 50th celebration: June 15–18, 2017!
Fitness Can Be Fun for All
Christina James an
d Katie Cox
This past semester five sisters from Delta Chapter began the lengthy and arduous process of training for their first half marathon. The girls decided to challenge themselves and do service for their health and fitness in keeping with this year’s President’s Project. A few of the girls had never led very active lifestyles while others were high school athletes. Their performance levels and endurance varied while one thing remained constant—a passion for service and each other. As race day approached, many of the girls were losing sight of their goals and were apprehensive about running their first half marathon. “A couple months in, I was behind schedule, and I really didn’t think that I could get up to 13.1 miles by race day,” Christina James explained. The constant love and support not only from the other sisters running the race but also from the entire chapter is what allowed her to continue training. “I’ve never had so much support to reach a goal,” Christina said. “The amount of encouragement I felt from my sisters was truly amazing…. They really motivated me!” Service director, Katie Cox, described her experience: “It was so amazing to see the community come out and support all of the runners.” Race day came and went, and Delta Chapter had five incredible women complete the half marathon—the first of many. Preparation for the race required them to put in many hours of training, and to change some of their eating habits to improve their endurance and running ability. The training the girls completed together not only helped to strengthen their bodies, but also helped strengthen Delta Chapter’s sisterhood. —Meagan Kaulfus (Delta)
Sisters in the News: Leann Williams, VP Finance On November 29, three distinguished teachers were each awarded $10,000 grants by the Barrett Family Foundation of Clearwater, Fla., as part of its program to recognize math and science teachers at private schools within the Tampa Bay area. Among the recipients was OPA’s own VP of Finance Leann Williams. To be eligible for the grant, applicants went through a strict process, including several letters of recommendation by colleagues and students. Additionally, schools asked to participate in this process were required to be members of the Florida Council of Independent Schools. The criteria also included several empowering traits—in particular, a personal commitment and enthusiasm for teaching science or mathematics and demonstrated employment of innovative and motivational methods to cultivate student interest. Leann teaches AP and honors calculus, AP physics 6
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and AP precalculus at the Cambridge Christian School, where she has been employed for the past 12 years. Leann says she will use most of her award money to fund additional technologies and items to use in her classroom: subscriptions to math services and websites and an updated iPad. The money also enabled her to attend two professional development workshops. “Teachers are vitally important to the future success of today’s youth,” said Jack Barrett, co-trustee of the Barrett Family Foundation. “It is our honor and passion to award the math and science teachers who are making significant contributions.” Congratulations, Leann!
Welcome Back Omega Chapter!
Omicron alum Jessica Ellis, right, was big sister to Nikki Schlachter.
Original Omega alumnae, Allison Withers, left, and Kim Nguyen, attended the vent. Center is Omega president, Niki Demos.
After more than a year in the making, a group of 26 colonists at Rutgers University became sisters and founding members of the newly rechartered Omega Chapter on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. This marks only the second time in OPA’s history that an inactive chapter has become active again. Gamma Chapter at Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1967, was reactivated in 1993. Omega Chapter was originally founded in 2001 and went inactive a few years later due to low enrollment and other issues. The Rutgers colonists, their big sisters, their Alpha pledge class and other OPA sisters from around the country met at lunchtime on Saturday in the graduate student lounge on the New Brunswick, N.J., campus. Everyone learned a bit about each other through a series of activities designed to break the ice and help the group get acquainted. One activity involved walking in a circle and “interrupting” the person speaking. The colonists then served a simple but hearty homemade lunch of spaghetti and salad. Following lunch, the colonists and attendees completed a service project, which consisted of assembling care packages to send to deployed soldiers serving overseas. Attendees brought items that could be included in the packages, such as granola bars, packets of hot chocolate, deodorant, shampoo and other essentials. For a more personal touch, they handwrote letters to put inside the boxes, which they also decorated with special notes. Following the service project, the big sisters joined their little sisters in a craft activity—
Sisters prepared care packages for soldiers overseas.
decorating picture frames, while others made different crafts. Later that evening, the entire group met for dinner in the student center, followed by the chapter induction ceremony. OPA sisters from at least eight chapters attended the event. Two original Omega Chapter alumnae, Allison Withers and Kim Nguyen, also attended and spent time reminiscing. OPA legacies also continue within the new chapter with two founding members being twins (Kripa and Pooja Patel), and another founding sister having her younger sister in the Alpha pledge class. Congratulations to the new Omega Phi Alpha sisters and founding members of the Omega Chapter at Rutgers University: • Melissa Batt • Kali Logel • Julia Roehrich • Brittany Bayne • Micaela Mizsak • Katie Salomone • Brianna Brothers • Lahar Parikh • Nikki Schlachter • Niki Demos • Sophie Park • Srishti Sharma • Megan Dent • Gopi Patel • Kaitlin Skamarak • Paige Grecco • Kripa Patel • Anna Luiza Souza • Monisha Jain • Meera Patel • Michelle Sweeney • Danielle Kozlosky • Pooja Patel • Charlotte Whitehead • Rebecca Levin • Olivia Robertson by Jessica Toms (Phi), VP Expansions
Service Can Be Rewarding Even at Convention working hard on their goals and to reward themselves for making positive choices. “Some of my students have stayed here, so I can’t wait to give back,” said Mandi Roberson, Epsilon alumna and local elementary school teacher. Those unable to attend can still help. The CRITI has a wish list of items they need. OPA sisters and chapters can make this a high impact project by donating money to help buy items on their wish list, food for the meal we prepare, items for the spa baskets, or make a financial contribution to be presented to the CRITI. Items and donations will be delivered to CRITI during our visit. To help with the project, please contact Andie Hixson at conv_activities@ omegaphialpha.org. If you are planning to participate in the service project, please wear work clothes and closedtoe shoes. To learn more about Chattanooga Room in the Inn, visit the website at www.chattanoogaroomintheinn.com. by Andie (Bowman) Hixson, (Epsilon), past president
There is nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment after a successful service project with your sisters. If you are planning to attend Convention 2015, we encourage you to arrive early, so you can participate in the Convention service project early Thursday morning. Those who are not able to attend, but would still like to help out can do so from afar. Imagine having nowhere to live. What would the options be? Many women living in the Chattanooga area are faced with this sad, but very real question. For a number of them, Chattanooga Room in the Inn provides the answer. CRITI’s mission is to empower homeless women and children and teach them to be selfsufficient. After being referred, women (and their children) can live at CRITI for up to 9 months for free. During their stay, residents attend the center’s training program. To graduate, each resident must secure a job, complete house chores and achieve the goals listed in their Individual Self-Sufficiency Plan. Thirty-five residents can live in the facility at any given time. “The women must be drug free for 30 days before coming,” said Sharon Collins, the
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coordinator of volunteers. She met with the Convention planning team and shared her enthusiasm about the progress some of the women have made during their stay. “Many residents get their GED or try to get a full diploma; some even earn a college degree. We encourage the residents to save two-thirds of their money; so they can really save a lot while they stay here. One young lady was able to save $8,000.” CRITI is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long, unlike most shelters. Dinner is served at 5 p.m. daily. All meals are provided, except for one dinner a month. “The women plan their own dinner one Saturday a month,” Collins explained. “They have to work together to plan the meal, buy the food and prepare it.” During our Convention service project, we will perform a variety of activities. We will need sisters to help prepare that evening’s meal, assist with landscaping, help sanitize the playroom toys, inspect and wipe down the children’s book collection, paint a room and tidy up the playground area. We also would like to put together some small “spa” baskets for the women to serve as a way of encouraging them to keep
WISH LIST ITEMS: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
powdered laundry detergent toilet paper paper towels rags freezer bags storage bins with lids baby wipes children’s socks school uniforms (solid colored polo shirts and khakis) sponges hand sanitizer disinfectant spray and wipes nail clippers hair conditioner bath mats shower curtain rings towels batteries
LAURA BEIL Laura Beil (Delta) has quite the impressive portfolio. With more than 20 years of writing experience under her belt, Beil is the proud recipient of several journalism awards and frequently contributes to publications such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Men’s Health and The New York Times. Beil has also dabbled in radio as a writer-reporter for the NPR series “This American Life,” and recently published an ebook, “The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of Eddie Routh,” which is getting a lot of attention from media outlets across the country. “I’ve been very lucky,” says Beil. “I get to do the work that I love, hopefully make a difference, plus I get to spend time with my family.” Beil currently resides south of Dallas in Cedar Hill with her husband, their two children, and the family dog. Q: Tell us a little about yourself. A: I grew up in East Texas, in Marshall. I graduated from Texas A&M in 1985, and from there went to UT Austin to study journalism. I pledged Omega Phi Alpha my sophomore year at Texas A&M after hearing so much about it from one of my close friends. My first full-time job was working at the Shreveport Journal, which was the afternoon paper (back when those existed) in Shreveport, La. From there, I worked at the newspaper in Baton Rouge, and then came to Dallas Morning News in 1992. I left in 2006 to start freelancing. My main gig now is Men’s Health magazine, but
I get to do the work that I love, and hopefully make a difference.
I also write for Science News and occasionally for The New York Times and for women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and O. Q: What got you into writing, and more specifically, writing about health? A: I always loved both writing and medicine. In fact, the summer before I went to grad school, I was accepted to both a medical school in Houston and the journalism program at UT Austin, so I had to choose which direction to go. Writing just seemed like more fun, plus I could still keep learning about medicine. I still do every day. Q: Our President’s Project this year focuses on health and physical fitness. Do you have any advice for sisters to help improve our overall well-being?
A: One thing that I’ve learned over all these years is that the body is complicated! There are no quick fixes, despite what the cover lines on magazines say (and yes, I write for some of the magazines that make those promises). Ask yourself what changes you can stick with and start from there, and just be patient. I’ve also over the years started to appreciate the mental benefits that physical exercise can bring. When I started writing about health nearly 20 years ago, I didn’t think the connection between exercise and mood was well established. I try to run and work out regularly, but I can tell you it’s more for the stress relief and mood elevating effects than just the physical benefits. I often joke with my kids, “if I don’t go for a run now, you’re going to have a Mean Mommy!” By Brooke Cancilliari (Gamma), Chevron writer
Digging for Diamonds Travels to Nashville Omega Phi Alpha held its third annual Digging for Diamonds (D4D) event in Nashville, TN, the weekend of March 20, with a “Denim and Diamonds” theme. Alumnae spanning more than 40 years from seven chapters participated in the reunion-style event that celebrates the principles of OPA through the years. The event kicked off on Friday with a meet and greet. On Saturday morning, sisters shared a variety of historical OPA items (pledge books, photos, paddles, etc.) and told stories from across the decades. Although the stories were different, the memories of sisterhood were the same. Alumnae shared a joint lunch with the Bluegrass District Summit attendees at a local park, where, as part of the President’s Project, a nutritional consultant discussed healthy food choices. The group also collaborated to provide healthy snacks for the puppies at a local Humane Society. The afternoon session included a ride on the “OPA tour bus,” which included stops featuring an update on national, alumnae opportunities, giving programs, songs and traditions, and convention. Attendees heard from several former national presidents including Pamela McCullough McEwen (Epsilon), Andie Bowman Hixson (Epsilon), Ginger McGarity (Delta and Nu), Leann Ellis Williams (Nu) and Susie Pack Larsen (Mu). The event culminated with a dinner banquet followed by the ceremony celebrating the induction of 18 sisters into OPA alumnae societies, which commemorate the continuing membership of sisters. The newest society inductees are: Topaz (10 years): Paige Ashe-McLean (Epsilon), Beth Dailey Kenneth (Sigma), Bridget Day Aris (Omicron), Renee Ruelle Gordon (Epsilon), Nicki Kozub (Epsilon), Faithe Ferguson Logan (Epsilon), Stephanie Walker Marrano (Sigma), Crystal McClurkin Russell (Omicron), Rachel Thomason (Rho), Caitlin Cary Tran (Alpha Beta) Sapphire (25 years): Julie Filson (Epsilon), Melonie Sylvia Hawn (Epsilon), Louise Matoax (Epsilon and Mu), Kristin Brenner Sanders (Epsilon), Lynn Robinette Sevigny (Epsilon), Chelle Ray (Epsilon), Christy Rittenberry Vermillion (Epsilon) Diamond (40 years): Joy Ericson McKenna (Epsilon) More than 40 alumnae and local actives attended the ceremony. The inductees shared their heartfelt feelings about how OPA has inspired them through their lives and careers. Many commented on how they were able to continue where they left off with their fellow sisters even after not seeing some of them for 25 years or more. To reconnect with OPA, please contact Ginger McGarity (email@example.com). By Suzy Sweeney McTaggart (Gamma) Photos Julie Filson (Epsilon) and Thea Moritz (Beta) 10
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Former National President Kristen Brenner Sanders (Epsilon) with Christy Rittenberry Vermillion (Epsilon) with National Treasurer Leann Ellis Williams (Nu)
The inductees wait for the ceremony to start. 18 sisters were inducted into OPA alumnae societies.
Eight OPA national presidents came to D4D.
Pamela McEwen (Epsilon), right, explains OPA giving programs as part of the “OPA tour bus.” Omicron sisters Bridget Day Aris and Crystal McClurkin Russell
Mu sisters—standing, Kylah Casey, Jasmine Hall, Khadijah Mull, Brittany Morris, Lekisha Paige. Seated, Susie Pack Larson, Louise Matoax, Faithe Logan, Elisabeth Anderson
Alumnae Chapter Reports box of socks, which were collected from July to December, was donated to the Star of Hope Mission via the Jewish Community Center collection drive on December 7, 2014. PHOENIX PROVISIONAL ALUMNAE CHAPTER OMEGA GAMMA
Atlanta, GA Melissa Huntley, DAA for the East region, reached out to alumnae in the Atlanta area and organized a kickoff event in early February 2015 at Georgia Tech University. Alums from Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech enjoyed sharing experiences with OPhiA in the collegiate chapters, and discovering what the new alumnae chapter would become. The most recent service project included making Valentine’s Day cards for a local nursing/assisted living home. The group is still looking for more alumnae to get involved with restarting the Atlanta chapter.
OMEGA TAU (FORMERLY KNOWN AS TEXAS ALUMNAE CHAPTER)
Houston, TX In September 2014, all OPA alumni and actives were invited to Bingo in the Heights, the second chapter service meeting, which supported local Houston area charities. A beautiful blue vase held one dozen yellow roses to mark the Bingo tables. Proceeds benefitted the Lodge Youth Club. The Lone Star District Summit was held in January 2015 in San Marcos, Texas. The event included dinner, workshops, Rose Shop, Icebreakers and a craft activity—making tutus and noisemakers for the upcoming Tutus and Tennis Shoes 5k on Saturday morning in Buda, Texas. *OPA special shoutout to thank Mary Morrison, Delta alum and Omega Tau Chapter member, (at right in above photo) for her amazing donation, which was used to purchase all the materials for the service project. The 2014 service project is new socks for all ages to give to the homeless shelter. A large
Phoenix, AZ The Arizona alumnae chapter held its first rummage/yard sale and raised $250! Some funds went to sisters in need and the rest will go to the alumnae group. To keep up the momentum, another yard sale is planned for Saturday, April 11. In March, the group helped a local Girl Scout troop earn some badges. The group also held its annual brunch, with the theme Brunch/Tea Party, to help sisters get to know one another. Visit the website for info on upcoming events: http://azalumnaeophia.weebly.com/.
DETROIT PROVISIONAL ALUMNAE CHAPTER
Detroit, MI The Detroit chapter is up and running for alumnae in the Michigan and Ohio area. A lot of organization occurred since the summer. Recent activities include a collection of Jeans for Teens, postal stamps for Stamp Camp, and expired coupons. Upcoming service projects include Relay for Life, assisting in a Toledo 5k run, helping at the Leslie Science Center, and ushering at the Wild Swan Theater. (The first social is being planned for the spring, where sisters are encouraged to bring OPA memorabilia to reminisce and meet sisters from other pledge classes.) If you’d like more information, join the Facebook group “OPA Detroit Provisional Chapter,” or visit the website at www.opadetroit. wix.com/opadetroit. The next recruitment opportunity will be in Ohio on April 21.
Diana (Spitsnaugle) Asman September 7, 1948– October 23, 2014 Alpha Chapter alumna, Diana “Diane” (Spitsnaugle) Asman, 66, from Sandusky, OH, passed away last fall. Diane received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University in 1969. She enjoyed baking and was known as the “cookie lady” to many. She was a very loving and caring person, and like her OPA sisters, always doing for others. She is survived by her husband, Scott, two daughters, two grandchildren, a sister and brother, and many nieces, nephews and friends. Memorial donations can be made to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, P.O. Box 1269, Sandusky, OH 44871 or to the American Heart Association, 15120 Collections Center Drive, Chicago, IL 60639.
Jennifer (Dushaw) Wensink June 19, 1980–January 2, 2015 Jennifer (Dushaw) Wensink, also formerly of Alpha Chapter, was truly a kind spirit who will be missed by all. Jen pledged Omega Phi Alpha in 1998 at Bowling Green State University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in intervention services. She later returned to BGSU, where she earned her master of education. She recently acquired her superintendent’s license in 2014, and was a special education supervisor for the NW Ohio Education Center in Archbold. Many of her sisters knew Jen as someone who would help make a difference in any way she could. “Jen was a genuinely nice person who cared about others,” says fellow sister Michelle Winters. “She was always smiling and laughing, never had anything negative to say.” Memorial donations can be made to the Cole Wensink Education Fund, c/o Farmers & Merchants Bank, Custar, OH.
Suzan Rhea Burnett 1954–2015 Suzan Rhea Burnett, 61, of Lenior City, Tenn., passed away in March 2015. She was a proud alumna of Tennessee Technological University and Epsilon Chapter of Omega Phi Alpha. She spent her professional career as a special education teacher in the Knox County and Roane County school systems. According to her obituary, she brought a “rhea” of sunshine to everyone in her path, even on a cloudy day. Memorial donations may be made to Donate Life America, 701 East Byrd Street, 16th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219.
ACTIVES From left to right: Elizabeth Echols, Sarah Waller, Morgan Kettlewood
Keeping the Promise:
SERVICE FOR A LIFETIME By Michele A. Higgins (Alpha Gamma secretary)
Each semester, Alpha Gamma Chapter at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., selects three outstanding members who have shown their hearts for service and sisterhood. The outstanding sisters from the Fall 2014 semester have shared their thoughts about what it means to be in OPA. SARAH WALLER ’15
Sarah Waller ’15, of Flower Mound, Texas, was selected as the outstanding officer. After getting a late start to her position, Sarah quickly began to transform our alumna and active district officer position. Why is service important to you? I wish to make the world a better place. Service allows me to make my community and world a bit brighter. Even if I only make one person’s day better, the hours of work would be worth it. What has been the most rewarding part of being the alumna/ADO chair? OPA means the world to me. Serving as alum/ ADO chair gives me the opportunity to connect with sisters who have graduated. I know that no matter where my sisters are, we will still have the same bonds. In your time as a member, what has been your favorite service project and why? My favorite service project was Campfire birthday last year. It rained like crazy, and I was outside the whole time teaching kids how to safely shoot BB guns. The kids just lit up. Nothing will compare to dancing the Cha Cha slide with all the little ones after the day was done.
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MORGAN KETTLEWOOD ’17
ELIZABETH ECHOLS ’18
The outstanding active selected was Morgan Kettlewood ’17, of Broken Arrow, Okla. Morgan inspires the chapter with her positive attitude and dedication to service.
Elizabeth Echols ’18, from Owasso, Okla., was selected at the outstanding pledge. Her dedication to OPA was highlighted when she coordinated an amazing pledge/active event as the pledge class social chair.
Why did you decide to join OPA? I was searching for a group of people with whom I shared common interests. When I heard that there was a sorority on campus that focused on serving others, I couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful the members must be. It didn’t really take much time or consideration when deciding whether I should join the group. I knew from the start that I wanted to spend my time in college doing something worthwhile—like serving—with my friends. What has been the most rewarding part of being an active in OPA? The most rewarding part is hearing people express their gratitude toward my sisters and me. It is nice to know that there are people who see that we are putting forth an extra effort to give back to our community. How do you think OPA can inspire your life beyond college? OPA will inspire me to be myself. I will continue to cling to my serving heart and give back to others around me. Helping others is what helps me, and I don’t want that to change beyond college.
Why is service important to you? I view service as an uplifting experience in which I have the opportunity to enhance my own experiences and skills while helping others. The most rewarding feeling is knowing that I have helped someone or changed their life. What inspired you to take on a leadership role in your pledge class? I saw an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I desperately wanted to become more involved. Without a doubt, my favorite part was planning the pledge/active social. I loved incorporating a variety of games while instilling a sense of sisterhood within each activity. I learned a lot about myself and my fellow sisters throughout the experience. I believe it is important to have a strong relationship within the sorority to reach the potential we have to inspire others. How do you think OPA can inspire your life beyond college? I want to continue my volunteer work throughout my entire life. Being involved in a community is what establishes a home, and OPA has inspired me to branch out while looking into the future. My love for service has been enhanced while being a part of OPA. That sense of community will stay with me.
March, a day of service (B Dis Day) and a social were held to honor our sister, Brittany Disney, who passed away from cancer last year. She exemplified Omega Phi Alpha and was a true sister who is dearly missed. We hope to make it an annual event.
Spring service: Relay for Life, Girl Scout Fairy Myst, Charity Miles, Cupid’s Chase, Weed Wrangle at the Nashville Zoo Fact: Our chapter won first place in Phi Delta Theta’s ALS philanthropy. MU
Bowling Green State University— Bowling Green, OH Founded in 1967 Service projects: visiting the local nursing home to play Bingo with the residents; participating in BGSU’s annual “Day of Service” on Martin King Luther Jr. day, which offers an opportunity to do local service and also to get to know other organizations at our university. Other projects: several sisterhood events of the semester include bowling, a cooking class and a “craft-a-thon,” in which we spend countless hours crafting together; sober sister event—a slumber party where we will spend the night together watching movies and getting to know our sisters even more. Recruiting projects: hosted information sessions at the end of January; hosted speed dating event where potential new members have a few minutes with each active sister to talk and get to know each other and the sorority.
Texas A&M University—College Station, TX Founded in 1970 Spring Rush: Delta Chapter welcomed 25 new girls into the Gamma Omicron pledge class. Delta is excited to get to know these girls more and watch them grow and blossom through their pledge semester. District Summit: Several members attended the LoneStar District Summit hosted by Alpha Nu Chapter at Texas State. We loved getting to share ideas with our other sisters from district and have taken some ideas back to our chapter to hopefully implement. Alpha Nu did an amazing job planning the Summit, and we had a great time serving with our sisters! Service projects: Delta Chapter looks forward to our planned service projects including Big Event, our first annual 5K benefitting the Domestic Abuse Project, a Blood drive on campus, and many more!
Eastern Michigan University—Ypsilanti, MI Founded in 1967 38 Actives President’s project: a semester-long fitness competition called Miss Fitness. Sisters earn points weekly for healthy habits such as working out with other sisters and making healthy food choices. The winner at the end of the semester will get a fitness kit. Service projects: writing letters to deployed soldiers, making valentines with other sisters, having a paper drive and creating journals for domestic violence victims, supporting our school’s athletic teams, and many others. In
Middle Tennessee State University— Murfreesboro, TN Founded in 1983 32 Actives President’s project: OPA Olympics Spring service: a Cinderella project that will consist of choosing four young ladies from less fortunate families, who are getting ready to graduate from high school. We will be giving them the prom of their dreams from hair, makeup, dress, shoes, accessories, and the whole nine yards of prom. Fact: Mu Chapter celebrated 32 years of service to the Murfreesboro and MTSU community on January 29, 2015. Music time at a Gigi’s Playhouse skill builders class for children with Down Syndrome.
Georgia Institute of Technology—Atlanta, GA Founded in 1988 63 Actives Rush theme: Not holding spring rush President’s project: Miss Nu Booty including a chapter cookbook Spring service: Underwood Hills Park Cleanup, Gigi’s Playhouse, Hot Chocolate Race, Science Olympiad, Special Olympics, Shakespeare’s Tavern, Atlanta Toolbank, Furkids Fact: We held our first chapter semi-formal last month! It was Las Vegas themed with casino games and decorations. Beauty and the Greek: group photo of Rho Chapter, and some of our sisters from MTSU who drove up to support us.
Tennessee Technological University— Cookeville, TN Founded in 1967 56 Actives / 13 Pledges Rush theme: “We’re gonna make this place your home.” President’s project: Physical Fitness and Healthy Living: Charity Miles
Western Kentucky University— Bowling Green, KY Founded 1994 96 Actives Fall Rush theme: “Garden Party”; we did not hold a spring Rush
CHAPTER REPORTS President’s project: hosting a 5K to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Spring service: held our 4th annual Beauty and the Greek Pageant and raised nearly $1,500 for the Hope Heart Institute; hosting a St. Baldrick’s event (where people shave their heads to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer) in April.
as the Boys and Girls Club, as one of our rush events was making arts and crafts with the children there. Service projects: Autism awareness—raising funds and awareness by hosting a kickoff rally, profit share and a talent showcase all benefitting Autism Speaks. We are very excited to see what this semester holds for us.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga— Chattanooga, TN Founded in 1993 42 Actives / 9 Pledges Rush theme: How I Met My Sisters President’s project: OPA Fitness Day, April 11, in the gym for students and Chattanooga citizens to take mini-fitness lessons, win gift cards and gear from healthy businesses around Chattanooga that will have kiosks set up. Spring service: Ben’s Bells: random acts of kindness around UTC; Signal Centers Valentine’s Day party at adult center for men/ women with mental disabilities; Step-Up Seminar on relationship abuse/depression and how to help others dealing with it; Bethlehem Centers for Community-at-Large: after-school program for kids in low-income areas; the Water Project: donations and participating in giving up drinks other than water for a week, the money that would be used on other beverages also will be donated. This money goes to an organization building wells in Kenya. Fact: participated in a competition with other sororities for highest attendance percentage at an assembly on campus for a chance to win $500 to be donated to a philanthropy of our choice, and we won! This money will go to Signal Centers, our longtime friends and partners in service.
Rush theme: “OPhiA Means Family” This was a spinoff of the popular TV show “Lilo and Stitch.” President’s project: Palmetto Race, a local race in which sisters can choose to volunteer on the race day, run the 5K or run the Half Marathon. Spring service: For our Service to the Sisters, some sisters are giving TedTalks to the rest of our chapter. In these TedTalks, our sisters are free to talk about anything they are passionate about. This is a great way to get to know your sisters’ interests. For our Nations of the World project, we chose to volunteer at Angel’s House, a veterans shelter. Sisters gardened the grounds around the house with donations of mulch and flowers. Fact: Chi Chapter is traveling to Tybee Island, GA, for our sisterhood retreat!
University of Louisiana at Lafayette— Lafayette, LA Founded in 1997 7 Actives / 5 Pledges Rush theme: Ophia’s 5 cool delights President’s project: going to the gym and working out as a group. Spring service: working with the Special Olympics; going to our favorite retirement home and playing Bingo; going to workout together and support each other.
Rutgers University—New Brunswick, NJ Founded in 2015 25 Actives / 30 Pledges Rush theme: OPA is the Place to Bee President’s project: University Tug of War Competition Spring service: We are going to the Somerset Hills Learning Institute for Autistic children. We will be volunteering our time to clean their toys. Fact: We just got inducted February 28! ALPHA BETA
some of our girls from District Summit this past month
University of Texas at Austin—Austin, TX Founded in 1994 7 new girls pledging this semester who enjoy service and are full of creative ideas. Rush projects: continuing to build our relationship with Caritas soup kitchen as well 14
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University of South Carolina—Columbia, SC Founded in 1998 51 Actives / 14 Pledges
University of Mississippi—Oxford, MS 14 Actives / 4 Pledges Rush theme: Service in the City President’s project: Health and Fitness: cooking at an active’s home. Members will be cooking healthy meals and exercising together. Spring service: Volunteering at an active’s daycare center—reading books to the children. Fact: We were founded at the University of Mississippi in 2003. Alpha Beta would personally like to wish our upcoming graduates farewell. We appreciate everything you all have done for the sorority. Love and Service.
CHAPTER REPORTS ALPHA THETA
University of Kansas—Lawrence, KS Founded in 2008 62 Actives / 34 Pledges Rush theme: A League of Our Own President’s project: Workout with a Sister Spring service: focus on mental health— incorporating it into our Service to the Sisters by hosting a mental health seminar to get some really great education on mental health. Fact: The Kappa pledge class is our biggest pledge class ever!
Up Til Dawn event: Our team of 6 raised $665 for St. Jude’s
The Pennsylvania State University—University Park, PA Founded in 2006 54 Actives / 14 Pledges Rush theme: Dream of a better tomorrow President’s project: Fit Club—a group where we post healthy recipes and tell girls when we’re working out so we can improve together! Spring service: THON, CCDSS, LifeLink lunches, State Day of Service, National Eating Disorder Awareness week, and many more to come! Fact: We raised around $60,000 with our fraternity partner for THON to help find a cure for pediatric cancer. FTK! (For the kids)
Kreme Challenge, Children’s Book Drive, Habitat for Humanity, Dance Marathon, Up Til Dawn (St. Jude’s event) Fact: We will have our fifth anniversary since our founding date this April.
ALPHA PI ALPHA IOTA
Notre Dame of Maryland University— Baltimore, MD Founded in 2009 35 Actives / 15 Pledges Rush theme: Maryland President’s project: Fit Sister Spring service: Winter Fest, Project Welcome Home, donations for Sheppard Pratt Hospital, making PB&J sandwiches for the Weinberg House, Box Top collection, Soda Tab collection, freerice.com, secret sister. Fact: One third of the sisters in our chapter are nursing majors. ALPHA LAMBDA
North Carolina State University—Raleigh, NC Founded in 2010 Rush theme: Sweet Southern Charm President’s project: State park hike/cleanup Spring service: Science Olympiad, Krispy
Boston University—Boston, MA Founded in 2011 49 Actives / 32 Pledges Rush theme: Great Gatsby President’s project: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Spring service: Room to Grow, Saturday/ Sunday Bread, Boston Public Health Commission, “Happy” Screening, Red Cross Food Pantry, Relay for Life
West Virginia University—Morgantown, WV Founded in 2014 44 Actives / 16 Pledges Rush theme: Welcome to the Sweet Life/ CandyLand President’s project: Yoga event for sisters and other students on campus; workout classes with other sisters Spring service: Endangered Animal service project, Read to Kids at WVU Ruby Memorial Hospital, campus clean-ups, Relay for Life, and volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. Fact: We are currently the lead team donor for Relay for Life out of 58 teams with almost a $2,000 donation. Relay for Life will be held on April 24!
OMEGA PHI ALPHA NATIONAL SERVICE SORORITY National Office PO Box 955 East Lyme, CT 06333 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
Save the Dates! March 16 Convention registration open
June 1 Alumnae Service Award letters of nomination due to firstname.lastname@example.org Annual reports and Service Project Report Form due from all chapters to email@example.com
July 15 Chapter annual financial reports due