T O DAY ’ S F R I E N D S , T O M O R R OW ’ S L E A D E R S , F O R E V E R I N S E R V I C E
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
REMOVING THE STIGMA OPA NATIONAL PRESIDENT'S PROJECT | PAGE 7
VOLUME 48 | 002
SPRING/SUMMER 2016 CALENDAR
The Chevron is a quarterly newsletter
New legislation or amendments due Send to email@example.com
Spring Chevron submissions due Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Scholarship applications due Send to email@example.com
Convention registration begins See OPA’s Facebook events page for link
Convention alumnae raffle deadline (see page 12)
Membership Status Report Forms due
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Founding District Summit*
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Heartland District Summit*
Colonial District Summit*
July 1 | due May 15
Lone Star District Summit*
Digging for Diamonds (D4D) Reunion & Alumnae Society Induction Norwalk Inn & Conference Center, Norwalk, CT
Convention 2016 Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe/Phoenix, AZ
produced for Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority alumnae and active chapters. 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 Hixson Chevron Editors Editor | Thea Moritz Layout Editor | Shelley Lai Copy Editor | Donna Pintek Writers | Alissa Best, Renée DePietro, Catherine Ferrell, Mackenzie Garretson Graves, Adrianne Grubic, Natalie Pita Distribution Dates and Deadlines October 1 | due August 15 January 1 | due November 15 April 1 | due February 15
If you would like to submit a feature story about an alumna or a service project happening at your chapter, please email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please send photos in 300dpi JPG format. National Office Mailing Address Omega Phi Alpha National Office
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OMEGA PHI ALPHA 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Save the Dates • June 15–18, 2017 • Bowling Green, OH To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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November is a month “stuffed” with turkey and all the trimmings. But for Omega Phi Alpha sisters, the “trimmings” go beyond the turkey and include the little extras, such as acts of service and giving back to the sorority. While service plays a yearlong role in each sister’s life, November is a busy time for OPA. For many sisters, finals and holiday travel are all on the agenda, but the month is also time for the annual National Service Week and Serve-a-Thon programs. In the past, these were held each year during the first week of November. Each chapter would choose a project and ask alumnae, friends or businesses to sponsor them for $7.25 an hour for the time spent on that project. This past fall, however, OPA kicked it up a notch. The Serve-a-Thon was extended for the entire month of November. The sponsorship fee was upgraded to $8 an hour, and sponsorships were available to select in the online Rose Shop store. The funds raised will go toward expenses for Convention 2016 in Phoenix, AZ.
Chi Sheds Winter Layers for the Salvation Army On Sunday, Nov. 22, Chi Chapter at the University of South Carolina hosted its Fourth Annual Polar Run. Participants each wore six additional articles of clothing, and as they ran the free 5K around campus, runners shed the extra layers. The clothes were then collected Chi sister Haley Yaw and fellow and donated to the runner Kevin Annek en crossed the fini sh Salvation Army, and line together. participants enjoyed free food and prizes.
Here are examples of November service: Tau’s National Service Week Campaign for Mental Health For service week, many chapters completed projects that focused on the annual President’s Project, “Mental Health Matters.” Tau Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin hosted a weeklong project that raised funds for To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit dedicated to presenting hope for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. “When suicide comes up in a conversation, one tries to avoid the topic,” said Tau member Shreya Ghosh. “It’s viewed as taboo, so raising awareness has become very important.” Tau started the week with a Kick-off Rally that included snacks, a Pie an OPA booth, and a banner on which individuals wrote about how they felt that day. Later that week, Tau held an internal service event, passing out candy with a message about suicide and a suicide hotline number to students on campus, a profit share night at Red Mango, and a Minute To Win It game night. “Tau’s favorite part of National Service Week was our game night,” said Komal Desai, the chapter’s VP of external affairs. “We came together to spread awareness for suicide to various organizations on campus, and we all interacted by participating in different games, while raising money to help the cause.”
Omicron Warms up with Project Linus While the sisters at Chi Chapter encouraged runners to shed layers, Omicron Chapter at Auburn University helped to add a layer of warmth by participating in Project Linus, an initiative that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or in need of a little extra warmth or comfort. During pledge retreat, Omicron pledges and
of Chi Chapter d Caryn Ramelb Sam Giaccio an last November. er nn lar Run ba in front of the Po
actives worked together in groups to create fleece tie blankets for the project. “Along with serving others, sisters and pledges were able to interact and get to know one another better through teamwork,” said Kaitlyn Walls, the chapter’s service director. By Alissa Best (Omicron), Chevron writer
FIGHT FIRE WITH COOKIES—On Nov. 15, Alpha Nu Chapter at Texas State University served in the Fight Fire with Cookies project. They split up into eight different groups and made assorted baked goods, which were delivered to the South Hays Fire Department in San Marcos, TX. Pictured here are Camille Shay, Caitlyn Koebler, Angela Villegas, Amanda Pierce, Jordan Pugh and Sarah Clester.
SISTERS IN THE NEWS Alpha Chapter Moving to Campus According to the Sentinel-Times, Alpha Chapter will move into its new home on the Bowling Green State University campus in August 2016, as part of $37.2 million project to house 33 Greek chapters. Sorority houses at BGSU were constructed before OPA was founded there in 1967. Alpha sister and president of the Multicultural Greek Council, Berrion L. Berry, was on hand last May when the university broke ground on the project. Gamma Chapter Debuts “Safety Dance” The Eastern Echo of Ypsilanti, MI, reported that Gamma Chapter held its first ever “Safety Dance” on Halloween in collaboration with the Eastern Michigan University’s Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention and Feminists for Change. The event was an option for those students who don’t feel comfortable going to outside events because of previous experiences. There was a costume drive for those showing up without costumes, a costume contest and a photo booth.
Delta Chapter Backs the Badge Featured on theeagle.com and KBTX 3 in College Station last September, Delta Chapter at Texas A&M participated in “Back the Badge” day by making goodie bags for the campus police. The entire chapter of 75 members participated along with 50 pledges. The bags contained candies, each with a special explanation such as “Lifesaver: to remind you of all the times you’ve been one.” The officers tweeted a picture similar to this one in appreciation.
Moore from Chi Chapter Elizabeth Moore of Chi Chapter was profiled in TheState.com and the Greenville News (South Carolina) last April as one of 200 finalists nationwide for the prestigious Truman Scholarship. The $30,000 award is given annually to those students who plan to attend graduate school in preparation for a career in public service. She currently serves as treasurer of Chi Chapter and previously was president. Elizabeth is committed to battling Alzheimer’s after her grandmother was diagnosed with the disease and is currently an undergraduate assistant for Alzheimer’s research. Her degree is in biomedical engineering. Rho Chapter Caught on Camera A photo published on WKUHerald online featured Omega Phi Alpha Rho Chapter members cheering for their school at the 2015 Homecoming parade in early November.
Compiled from local news sources by Adrianne Grubic (Omicron), Chevron writer
LOVE IN A BOX—Psi Chapter at Texas A&M Corpus Christi partnered with the Student Volunteer Connection for “Love in a Box” as part of Homelessness Awareness Week in November. The sisters camped overnight in cardboard boxes away from life’s luxuries to experience the reality of homelessness and make a statement. They also collected canned food and toiletry items, which were donated to the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission of Corpus Christi. Photos submitted by Psi Chapter.
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NEB Does the Texas Two-step Fall Meeting Held in Dallas OPA’s national executive board members traveled to Dallas from all corners of the U.S. for their annual fall meeting. This time it was held early—from Aug. 29–30.
CONVENTION 2016: For the Love of Children and Baseball Begin Planning Now to Attend July 14–17, 2016 Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, AZ Registration opens in March 2016, and the registration fee is expected to be $80 per person. The Convention committee encourages chapters to begin planning now to send delegates to Phoenix in July. And alumnae—it is never too early to consider applying to be an alumnae delegate (see page 12 to enter the alumnae raffle).
To make better use of their in-person time together, the board members met with OPA’s strategic consultants, The Harral Group of Fort Worth, for the Vision 2020 strategic planning workshop (see above photo). Much appreciation goes to Harriet Harral, Paul Harral and Carlela Vogel for their insightful guidance. Mid-year Meeting Planned for Dallas The NEB will reconvene in Dallas again in January to continue planning and strategizing the sorority’s business at the mid-year meeting. Each officer will be able to report on her duties and tasks for the year so far, as well as discuss better ways to work together as primarily a virtual executive group.
Come for the entire event, or just for the weekend. We want you there!
Don’t Miss These Highlights Convention will kick off on Thursday, July 14, with the group service project at Feed My Starving Children in Mesa. Earlier this year at FMSC, national officers and Convention committee members, along with sisters from Phi Chapter and Omega Iota Alumnae Chapter, as well as other community volunteers, packed enough meals to feed 65 children for a year. This project is a great fit for the Convention delegation not only because of the impact made in just a few hours, but also because of the variety of jobs for different abilities and needs. Plus, it’s an indoor activity away from the desert heat. Each box of food costs about $50 to make, which
means each packing session can cost FMSC a few thousand dollars. As such, OPA will also be promoting a fundraising initiative aimed at supporting our packing session during the convention. On Friday night, attendees can ride the light rail from Tempe to downtown Phoenix to experience an Arizona Diamondbacks major league baseball game with dinner at the ballpark. And did we mention the baseball stadium is airconditioned?! OPA’s annual awards celebration is getting dressed up, just like we hope you will! On Saturday evening, we will be presenting awards and celebrating the accomplishments of our sisterhood in a swanky and glamorous affair overlooking Tempe Town Lake in the Lakeside Room at Tempe Center for the Arts. Come prepared to truly dress to impress. Since it is so close geographically, we would like to extend a special invitation to alumnae from Arizona and California to attend Convention. Saturday will be filled with some very special activities like our Alumnae Societies Induction and alumnae luncheon, as well as the awards celebration. By Kasey Stevens (Phi), VP Business Operations
Visit the online Rose Shop for official OPA-branded items: https://squareup.com/market/the-rose-shop
INITIATE A PLAN FOR SPRING RECRUITMENT With the close of the fall semester, Omega Phi Alpha chapters celebrated the activation of their new pledge classes. Nationally, OPA now has 30 chapters with nearly 1,000 total paid active members, 550 of whom are new. With the spring semester fast approaching, now would be an excellent time to plan for a successful recruitment. OPA recruitment consists of two main steps—initiation and activation. While service is the strongest tie that binds OPA sisters, recruitment and education also support the sorority. The primary way OPA gains new members is with recruitment of students at the collegiate level, and spring recruitment allows for a more intimate, lesshurried experience. And prospective spring pledge classes are perfect for recruiting leaders who may have just rotated off of another leadership position. Reach out to these leaders and focus on getting to know a new core group of qualified women who can enrich our sisterhood for many years. When deciding to join a group, leaders typically look for qualities such as balance, benefits and authenticity. Here are some tips to help tailor a recruitment experience to entice leaders to join our sisterhood and strengthen the sorority. Balance > Leaders are usually good at prioritizing. They are able to delegate, step up when necessary, and take on other tasks when it is time to branch out. A good leader may recognize that she cannot do it all—leadership positions, job and a full course load—and she should be prepared with that information. Be honest and open about the time commitment of the pledge AND active periods. Leaders will want to be able to balance their lives. Show potential pledges that OPA has a strong, but manageable program of service and leadership. Benefits > Leaders want to know that their actions have purpose. While the work OPA does for the community is important overall, the sorority also offers numerous benefits to the individual. Show potential pledges how leadership is incorporated in chapter committees and programming. Take time to explain how a pledge could use her personal strengths to better the chapter as well as grow as a leader. Mention the national leadership program as a way to deepen individual skills. Leadership is accessible even without having to take on officer roles. This elevates OPA above the average student organization.
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Authenticity > It’s important to be authentic. Prospective members are not just looking to join an organization, they are looking to join your group of sisters. Recruitment activities beyond ice breakers and team building go a long way to build a rapport with leaders. These prospective members want to get to know the chapter as real people. Activities such as trash pick-ups, coffee dates and dinners before sporting events allow leaders to see chapter dynamics in a relaxed atmosphere. They also wants to feel that the chapter is interested in getting to know her as a person. Events that closely match chapter activities can give prospective members an authentic taste of OPA chapter life. So, now that you know what leaders may be looking for, here is how OPA presents itself. Marketing > Our new brand identity gives OPA a professional way to stand above the crowd. Review the new branding guide on the website (under Resources) and contact the national vice president of communications for the proper logo files and proper usage (email@example.com). Be one of the first chapters to incorporate the new look in all your communications.
New member training > Spring recruitment will be the first time the newest sisters experience recruitment from the member side. Be sure the new actives are ready with the confidence to be themselves. Take time to practice conversations together as a chapter. Mock voting sessions are also a great idea to guide new actives in the procedure of membership selection. Quality brings quantity > It has been said that you can’t recruit someone you don’t know. It is important to remember that no one is just an OPA sister. We all have different interests, majors and hobbies. Make a chapter list of all the activities sisters are involved in. Try to invite one leader of each organization or team to chapter recruitment events. Have a networking event for all of the campus leaders. Don’t forget to reach out to educational and leadership honor societies such as Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortarboard and Golden Key. Looking for more ideas? Reach out to Megan Johnston, vice president of membership, at firstname.lastname@example.org. By Mackenzie Garretson (Alpha Delta), Chevron writer
Help Bring OPA’s New Visual Brand Identity to the Chapter Level How to Get Started Many of you are aware of the national sorority’s new brand and logo identity with a modern take on the bee image fron OPA’s history. If you are interested in being one of the first chapters to apply the new graphic guidelines and standards with your local chapter’s communications efforts, please email the national vice president of communications at email@example.com. OPA Brand Standards Guide Download and take a look at the brand standards guide found in the Members section of the new OPA website under Resources. While compliance is currently not required, in the future these logos and marks will be officially licensed in order to maintain proper and consistent use. This helps our organization achieve instant visibility and recognition as a professional service group.
Mental Health Matters | blog 61,500,000—That’s the staggering figure cited by The Huffington Post last December when estimating the number of Americans who are currently suffering from a mental health disorder at any point in a given year. With that number being so high, you’d expect this topic to be thoroughly discussed. However, this isn’t the case. In fact, we are far away from completely removing the stigma surrounding mental health. The definition of a mental health disorder, according to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, is “…[The] disorganization of personality, mind and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual.” From this definition, it is easy to see why it is so difficult, and also painful, for those who suffer from a mental health disorder to bring up their struggles. Like it or not, we are now in midst of an era where having a mental disorder—no matter how big or small— signifies a weakness, not just an illness. Omega Phi Alpha’s National Service Sorority promotes an annual service project, also called the “President’s Project,” since it is selected by the national president each year. The current project is “Mental Health Matters.” We, as a sisterhood across the country, are seeking to end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. We are lending a helping hand to those who are struggling or have struggled in the past. Instead of blending in with the crowd and ignoring the stigma, we are fighting the good, but long, fight to help end it by planning service projects that promote assistance and awareness. To put these statistics provided by The Huffington Post into perspective, another figure to consider is that close to 30 percent of college students have reported dealing with depression in the past year, to the point where it impacts daily lives and their efforts to complete school work. 30 percent—imagine how many people that would be on a campus of 12,000? That’s
3,600 students dealing with a seemingly invisible disability. But for those who suffer from depression, it’s far from invisible. It’s an all-consuming, dark cloud that hovers over their every move. What’s more—within that 30 percent, it is estimated that about 7.5 percent have intensely considered suicide within the past year. That means nearly 300 people who have considered ending their lives. What’s even more concerning is the fact that many of those who are dealing with depression do not seek help. Of the 3,600 individuals affected by depression, most will not seek assistance. Instead, they rely on their own means to reach healing or ignore the problem, hoping it will go away. However, neither of these options is reliable when dealing with a true mental disorder. Now imagine a world without a social stigma around mental health. Those same 3,600 individuals wouldn’t feel the need to hesitate and would willingly seek the help necessary to begin healing. Those previously estimated 300 who have considered ending their lives would have a support system to lean on during a very dark time in their lives. So what’s needed to begin ending the stigma around mental illness? How can we make this a topic that is easily and readily discussed on campuses nationwide? Voices! WE NEED YOU! We need everyone and anyone who has a heart for those dealing with a mental disorder to share information regarding outlets and programs for treatment; to discuss the reality of what these illnesses can do; and, most importantly, to let those around you know you are here to support them in their time of need. Just a listening ear and concerned heart can make a difference to those struggling with a mental health problem. That is precisely what Omega Phi Alpha sisters have set out to do. The sisters in OPA are determined to help end the stigma this year through service. With projects like “How Are You Doing?” from Mu Chapter at Middle Tennessee State University, where the sisters are asking people how they truly are doing. These sisters are seeking out friendships and relationships to help the sisters lean on each other and their campus community. Other projects include volunteering from Chi Chapter members at the University of South Carolina with national organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in hopes to end the stigma around mental health and help support those who are struggling. Alpha Mu’s chapter at Boston University
volunteers with the Boston Public Healthcare every month to help those who are homeless and struggle with a mental health disorder. As you can see from just these examples, much attention is being given to mental health, and we as OPA sisters couldn’t be happier! If you know someone who struggles with an illness or you personally struggle, do not be afraid to REACH OUT. Do not sit on the sidelines and let life happen. Help others, or seek help for yourself. Mental illness might have a negative stigma surrounding it right now, but there is hope for all of those impacted out there. And if all else seems dark and unknown, just know that you have a friend in the sisterhood of OPhiA! Visit omegaphialpha.org/blog to share this story by Lauren Craig (Epsilon), Web content coordinator.
SISTERS AND SCOUTS MAKING NEW FRIENDS
When Omega Phi Alpha was founded in 1967, membership was limited to university women who had been Girl Scouts or Camp Fire Girls. Although this requirement is no longer in place, the values of the two organizations continue to coincide, and it is no surprise that many former Girl Scouts have found a home in OPA. For Katelyn Snover, member of the Gamma Chapter at Eastern Michigan University and a member of the Girl Scouts from second grade through high school, learning about OPA’s history with Girl Scouts was a huge encouragement. “While pledging with OPA, I was excited to see that the original members were Girl Scouts. While reading the constitution and purpose, I noticed that OPA and Girl Scouts share the same values, such as sisterhood, service and leadership,” she said. “I see the same values in the purpose as well. As members of OPA, we want to help others in the community. As in Girl Scouts, they strive to create community projects as well.” For many girls, getting involved in Girl Scouts early on played a prominent role in instilling a service-oriented view on life. “I really enjoyed Girl Scouts. I felt like it was a great place to make friends and do service,” said Pooja Patel, a member of the Omega Chapter at Rutgers University and a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award—the highest achievement a scout can earn, with only 5.6 percent of eligible girls successfully earning the award. “It also helped me become the person I am today. When you are young and you learn to help the community, you
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carry that with you as you get older. Girl Scouts is the reason why I love service and actively try to do my part for the community.” Many future members of OPA participated in their very first service projects as scouts, which is part of the reason why the organization is so special to many of its former members.
While pledging with OPA, I was excited to see that the original members were Girl Scouts. —Katelyn Snover, Gamma Chapter
“The experiences were eye opening and impactful, especially considering how young we were,” said Kripa Patel, also of Omega Chapter at Rutgers and a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award. “I still vividly remember volunteering at the local food pantry when I was in the fifth grade. I will never forget that experience.” Maria (Hinkle) Price was inspired to join the organization by her mother, who was her Girl Scout troop leader. Maria is a 1998 alumna of the Epsilon Chapter at Tennessee Technological University, a recipient of the Girl Scouts Gold Award, a member of Girl Scouts for 36 years, and a former troop leader.
Her passion for Girl Scouts stems in part from the confidence the organization gave her growing up. “Through Girl Scouting, I gained the confidence to be my own person and had opportunities outside of my school and community to broaden my horizons and gain exposure to resources I normally would not have had access to in my small mountain town,” Maria said. “I wasn’t popular in elementary school, but I was a tomboy who loved to catch frogs and sing songs and play games, which made me popular at Girl Scout camp. That gave me the confidence which has served me well throughout my life and allowed me to keep a positive attitude in most situations.” Katelyn has had a similar experience with the organization, and has been able to achieve many goals because of the support of her fellow Girl Scouts. “I’ve continued with Girl Scouts for so long, because I enjoy the values they encourage. I loved helping people in our community. While working for Girl Scouts I’ve found a group of people who support me and help me succeed,” she said. I’ve done things this year that I’ve never thought I’d do, such as
Junior Troop #3441 had a blast at ASU’s Girl Scout Badge Day a few years ago with Trista Nicole Guzman, Kimberly Mershon-Farmer and Kasey Stevens.
becoming a lifeguard. I used to be scared of the water, but now I’m comfortable.” Maria also believes that Girl Scouts gave her many of the valuable skills that she still uses in her daily life. “I have excellent sales and customer service skills, many of which I learned through Girl Scout cookie sales and product sales,” she said. “Scouting also taught me invaluable people skills and basic business knowledge.”
With her strong connection to Girl Scouts, it makes sense that Maria’s favorite service projects as an OPA active were Brownie Half Day and Girl Scouts Badge Day, in which the chapter invites Girl Scouts from all around for a day of badge work and fun. Elizabeth McMahan, a member of Alpha Nu at Texas State University and a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award, also served with both Girl Scouts and OPA. She has worked at Camp Greenhill, a Girl Scout camp in Mathis, Texas, for the past seven years, and she recruited her sisters to volunteer at a few of the camp’s events. “Omega Phi Alpha is about service, and Girl Scouts is about helping girls build character, so I thought that was a really good connection,” Elizabeth said. “They are basically my second family, which is another reason I thought they would go together. The girls have basically become another family for me as well, so it was a good fit.” Aly Inglish, a 2010 Alpha Kappa Chapter alumna, was a Girl Scout—from Brownie to Cadette—while growing up in Arizona. She first developed her love of service and still keeps in touch with the amazing people she met during that time. “My Girl Scout troop leaders helped me have the voice to be an OPA leader, and my OPA alumna mentors taught me how to use that voice to be a successful adult woman,” said Aly.
Last summer, Aly was hired by the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri Council to work with their brand and marketing team. She loves contributing to an organization so focused on female empowerment. She considers OPA as the next phase of a life of service for girls who have loved their Girl Scout experience. “It’s the sisterhood through a common love of giving. Both benefit from having the power to make their own decisions, but with mentors to guide them if they are willing to listen and learn. I don’t know where else in college I would have found a group of women who would trust me to serve as a leader, but who also were there to guide me,” she added. For the women who have been involved in both Girl Scouts and Omega Phi Alpha, there is an undeniable continuity between the missions of the two organizations that makes transitioning between the two groups so natural. “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. This lines up nicely with OPA’s purpose: develop friendship, leadership, and cooperation by promoting service,” Maria said. “OPA and Girl Scouts are both organizations geared toward helping girls be all they can be.” By Natalie Pita (Chi), Chevron writer
While researching this story, nearly 40 OPA members’ names were randomly identified with ties to the Girl Scouts. If you were also a Girl Scout, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos collected through the years from various chapters.
INSIDE THE MINDS OF HEALERS Amber Douglas & Lynze Vickers
In honor of the 2015–16 President’s Project: Mental Health Matters, this Chevron spotlights two Omicron Chapter alumnae who are actively working on the forefront of the mental health industry. It is commonplace to find articles in magazines and online about one’s physical health: how to improve your figure, how to live “heart healthy,” how to recognize the signs of a stroke, etc. It is not as common to hear or read about how to recognize depression, addiction or eating disorders in loved ones, classmates or coworkers—and what you may do to help. Why does there seem to be a stigma regarding discussing mental health? How can we, as compassionate sisters in school and in society, help alleviate this stigma? And in what ways can we help those who suffer?
Amber Douglas, PsyD
Clinical Director/Licensed Psychologist East Alabama Center for Change Omicron, 2001 Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your affiliation with OPA. A. I began my journey with OPA when I was a junior at Auburn University. I was president of my pledge class and am still very close with my little from my senior year. My commitment to service has extended beyond my years as an active sister. My life is dedicated to helping others in every way I can as a psychologist and a community volunteer. I am married with two children, one of whom has already began fundraising for cancer research by making chocolate lollipops (lollies of love, as she calls it). My husband is in the military and serves our country overseas as a pilot. Our family embodies the OPA spirit in the love of service. Q. What inspired you to work in the mental health field? A. Most of us have either been affected by or had someone close to us who has been affected by mental illness. What drew me to the field was a combination of things: a love for listening to people, a passion for figuring out complex situations and pondering philosophy, and an insatiable curiosity about neuroanatomy and physiology. The most important factor is my desire to affect positive change in the world.
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Q. What advice would you give to sisters who may know someone who suffers (i.e., from depression), to help them feel comfortable about reaching out appropriately? A. One big piece of advice I use when guiding people to reach out for help is a nonjudgmental stance, one that is even accepting if the person they are trying to help is not ready to seek help. One of the biggest things we can do is offer to listen and help find resources in their community that are equipped to handle their problems. Another piece of advice is self-care; you can’t be much help to others if you wear yourself out. Some people in need require more than you can give so it’s important to know your limits. While many of you are quite brilliant and have hearts of gold, unless you have proficient skills in delivering therapeutic services, it’s best if you leave that to the professionals. Q. What do you see as an effective effort in removing the stigma associated with mental illness (and how can our sisters help)? A. Mental health is just as important as physical health. We don’t judge anyone negatively if they go to the doctor for a
medical condition, so it doesn’t make sense to judge others for seeking help for a mental condition. Moreover, mental health and physical health are intertwined…one cannot possibly be considered without the other. Growing bodies of research are strongly supporting the notion that our mental health status greatly influences our physical status, and vice versa. Many organizations across the country have speakers who travel to college campuses to talk about mental health issues. At the University of Northern Colorado during my pre-doctoral internship, I helped organize the freshman orientation in conjunction with the drama department. The new students saw various dramatic scenes depicting issues they may encounter as freshmen, or upperclassmen, in their collegiate journey (i.e., issues of intimate consent, self-injury, eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, etc.). As OPA sisters you can contact these organizations and schedule events at the university or find a local organization that could use support. The best support is spreading awareness about mental health topics, fighting stigma, and encouraging people to get help.
Lynze (Durham) Vickers, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist South Georgia area Omicron, 2007
Q. Tell us a little about yourself, and your affiliation with OPA. A. When I still lived locally, I liked to help out with Omicron Chapter projects whenever I could. Unfortunately, now I am several hours away, so I’m not able to connect with them as much, but I did also have a little sister with the new Alpha Omicron Chapter at University of Florida and was very happy to get to take part in that. My current job consists of managing a caseload of 15–20 patients who are admitted for various substance-related or psychological/psychiatric issues. Our goal is to get them stabilized before discharging them, and to follow up with an outpatient counselor and psychiatrist.
help however you can, whether that means listening, giving advice or just sitting next to them while they sort things out. Q. What do you see as an effective effort in removing the stigma associated with mental illness (and how can our sisters help)? A. It’s important to understand how common certain disorders are. Studies have shown that at any given time, one in four Americans could be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. We can all help with removing the stigma by educating ourselves and others. I’d like to see people bringing more
awareness to mental illness and what it looks like. For example, schizophrenia is a very debilitating mental illness that can often include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. Unfortunately, the media sometimes characterizes this as someone having multiple personalities (which is in no way related to schizophrenia) or acting out violently—so the public can be really afraid of this disorder, making it harder for those suffering from it to ask for help. We can help by trying to not label people as “crazy.” I always say we should strive to be curious, not judgmental. By Renée DePietro, RN (Beta), Chevron writer
Q. What inspired you to work in the mental health field? A. I took a psychology class while at Auburn and fell in love with it. I majored in psychology and originally planned to pursue a career as a psychologist. In my final year, however, I took classes for marriage and family therapy, and decided to pursue that field instead. I liked the idea of including the relationship aspect into mental health. I always found mental health to be fascinating, with the different disorders and learning about different things people can experience. Q. What advice would you give to sisters who may know someone who suffers (i.e., from depression), to help them feel comfortable about reaching out appropriately? A. I would encourage them to educate themselves and become familiar with the symptoms, signs and also the ways that people usually cope with this. For depression specifically, some common signs are extreme fatigue or insomnia, loss of interest in activities, social withdrawal/isolation, and feelings of hopelessness/worthlessness. If they know someone who may be suffering from this or another mental illness, it’s important to show that person that they care and aren’t judging them. Safety is also a concern. If I ever had a client who was depressed to the point of hurting himself or herself, I would encourage them to reach out to a loved one, and I would tell them that either they could tell their loved one, or I could do it for them, but that it had to happen because safety is the first priority. It’s important to let that person know that you’re by their side no matter what, and that you will
Alumnae Chapter Reports OMEGA DELTA Nashville, TN Sisters from the Nashville area participated in individual service projects for different causes, the Nashville Walk for Mental Health, donating school supplies, and Hands on Nashville, to name a few. Dinner with Dawn was held at Firehouse Subs in Murfreesboro on Oct. 13, to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. Whether attendees selected dine in, carry out, call in, order online, catering orders during the event, or platters…it ALL counted, and a percentage of the total sales went to the association. Dawn is the daughter of Epsilon and Mu alumna, Faithe Logan. The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee’s Buddy Walk was held on Oct. 31. Dawn had her own team, “Light up the Darkness” and “walked” to celebrate another great year. We continue to write letters of encouragement to immigrants in the Nashville area through the TN Justice for Our Neighbors program. These recipients were victims of sex trafficking or witnessed criminal activities.
Win Your Trip to Convention 2016 Omega Iota Chapter conducted a senior ceremony for seven new Phi Chapter alumnae.
OMEGA IOTA Phoenix, AZ As reported in the fall Chevron, Omega Iota Alumnae Chapter received its Greek letter designation last summer. The chapter’s events are held in the greater Phoenix area. Membership is a mix of Alpha Alpha, Phi and Alpha alumnae. This winter the sisters conducted senior ceremonies for Phi and Alpha Alpha chapters, hosted a dinner and movie sisterhood event and sponsored two families in the third annual Adopt-a-Family service project.
Enter the alumnae Convention raffle for a chance to experience Omega Phi Alpha like never before! With each $25 donation to the Omega Phi Alpha Scholarship Trust, you’ll be entered to win an all-expense paid trip to Phoenix, AZ, the site of the OPA national Convention in mid-July. The grand prize winner will be chosen by April 1. ENTRY DEADLINE IS MARCH 15.
TWO WAYS TO ENTER 1. Send your $25 donation to the Omega Phi Alpha Scholarship Trust along with the entry form below. And, yes, you can enter more than once! Each $25 donation counts as one entry. Feel free to write one big check for multiple entries. Entries must be postmarked by March 15 to be eligible. 2. Use PayPal’s “Send Money” function to get your scholarship trust donation to the right place right away. And if you fund it directly from your bank account, neither PayPal nor the credit card companies take a cut of your donation. Just send it to email@example.com and make sure you enter “alumnae raffle,” as well as your name and collegiate chapter in the email text entry box.
QUESTIONS? Please direct your questions to the alumnae convention coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. For official rules, visit http://omegaphialpha.org/programs/ convention.
Our Christmas gathering was on Dec. 5. We enjoyed homemade dishes and each other’s company. We collected and donated toys for a children’s toy drive. Happy New Year to all! OMEGA EPSILON Chattanooga, TN Last fall, Omega Epsilon Chapter participated in Operation Christmas Child. We are planning a social in January. Everyone is welcome! Chattanooga area alumnae, please like our Facebook group page and join in on the friendship, leadership and service! www.facebook.com/groups/opachattanooga/ OMEGA THETA Lafayette (Acadiana), LA Omega Theta Chapter ended 2015 with a potluck dinner on Dec. 5. We will start again on January 20, 2015, and are planning more events for next year. Please be in touch by emailing Omega_Theta@omegaphialpha.org.
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ALUMNAE CONVENTION RAFFLE TICKET Front row: Brianna Beck, Dariana Soto, Grace Kelly Cantu, Jenny Borski, Lynsie Patschke, Tiffany Thai and Macey Normyel. Back row: Sharla Papitto, Pamela Mudd Conlan, Mary Morrison, Katie Cox, Nancy Covarrubias, Laura Nguyen, Laura McCloskey
OMEGA TAU Houston, TX Omega Tau Alumnae Chapter invited active sisters to join in or support the Walk for Mental Health Awareness Houston which was held on Saturday, Oct. 10, in Stude Park. The walk brought together the community to raise awareness and funding for Houston area nonprofit mental health agencies. It was an inspiring event, and the Omega Tau team raised nearly $900. The sisters of Omega Phi Alpha were happy to be a part of this positive public dialog in promoting mental health awareness in conjunction with OPA’s President’s Project.
Name____________________________________ Address__________________________________ City/State/Zip_____________________________ Phone____________________________________ Email____________________________________ Home chapter____________________________ Graduation year___________________________ Donation enclosed: o $25 o $50 o $75 o $100 o $125 o $150 o $175 o $200 o Other_______ Make checks payable to Omega Phi Alpha Scholarship Trust. Entries must be postmarked by March 15. Mail this raffle ticket with donation to Omega Phi Alpha National Office, P.O. Box 955, East Lyme, CT 06333
candy and hosted other fun activities. We’re happy with the outcome and look forward to an even bigger turnout in the future!
Delta Does Yoga
Briana D’Entremont, right of Alpha Chapter, at the Woodlane Halloween dance
ALPHA Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH Founded 1967 36 Actives • 25 New Members President’s Project: Last fall, we learned about epilepsy, what it looks like, and how to help if we see someone showing signs. We wrote positive notes and left them around campus. Winter Service Plans: We helped local towns sort and deliver Girl Scout cookies. We continued our work with Woodlane, including caroling for the residents, and Wood Haven Senior Living and Rehabilitation Bingo nights. Fun Fact: We are planning our district summit for the spring this year!
DELTA Texas A&M University—College Station, TX Founded 1970 62 Actives • 25 New Members President’s Project: Free Yoga on campus! #DeltaDoesYoga #MentalHealthMatters Winter Service Plans: For the community, we will be participating in a project called Buddy Bears, donating stuffed animals to the local police department. The department gives the stuffed animals to children to help comfort them if they are involved in any accidents or tough situations that the police handles. We will be participating in the Angel Tree, Boys and Girls Club mentoring/pen-pal programs, and caroling at a local nursing home. Fact: This year, for the first time ever, we had two women from the Corps of Cadets pledging with the Gamma Psi pledge class! Whoop! EPSILON Tennessee Tech University—Cookeville, TN Founded 1973
Gamma Chapter helps fill and wrap shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a chapter favorite.
GAMMA Eastern Michigan University—Ypsilanti, MI Founded 1967 28 Actives • 10 New Members President’s Project: “Potter-It-Forward.” Writing notes about our favorite book/book series and going to a local bookstore to put them inside those books for future readers to find. These notes describe how those books have impacted us or changed our life. Winter Service Plans: “Positive Thoughts” posted around Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Relay for Life at EMU (annual project), adopting a giraffe (chapter mascot). Safety campaign with another student organization, “Stomp Out Stigma” (decreasing mental health stigma), as well as a project with the Girl Scouts. Fact: 1) We’re doing a spring Summit with Alpha this year! We normally do this in the fall, but since OPA national prefers having it in the spring, we switched it up! 2) This year was our first annual “Track-or-Treat,” which is a safe trick-or-treating event for local kids, hosted in the field house. Thirteen other EMU student groups volunteered to help us pass out
MU Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN Founded January 29, 1983
Nu Chapter’s service mixer with the men of Alpha Sigma Phi at the community gardens in downtown Atlanta
NU Georgia Institute of Technology—Atlanta, GA Founded 1988 57 Actives • 32 New Members President’s Project: We had a Nu Chapter alumna, Gwen Hughes, come and speak to the chapter on how to look for signs of someone struggling from mental health, and if we were struggling, how to take steps toward getting
help. Gwen was a major part in pioneering a program on Georgia Tech’s campus called Burdells Buddies that teaches students how to notice and help with mental health issues all over campus. It was fantastic having an alumna assist with the chapter’s goal of spreading mental health awareness. Winter Service Plans: As part of our winter semi-formal, we made the admission price per person an article of winter clothing that we will donate to those in need around the Metro Atlanta area. We collected more than four big garbage bags full of winter wear, and will donate the items by the end of the semester. Fact: We came in second place for all of Georgia Tech’s Homecoming this year. More importantly, we came in first place for the Mini 500, one of the oldest Homecoming traditions at GT! OMICRON Auburn University—Auburn, AL Founded 1992
Rho membership director Ashley White at Rho’s first Pancakes for Parkinson’s Event
RHO Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY Founded 1993 85 Actives • 53 New Members President’s Project: Our biggest President’s Project service event in the fall semester is called Mental Health Mondays. As the name implies, these events take place every Monday and raises awareness or funds for suicide prevention. One Monday, our sisters set up a booth in the middle of campus and drew semicolons on the wrists of fellow students. Project Semicolon is a national organization that raises awareness for suicide prevention. The semicolon is representative of when a writer could end a sentence but chooses not to. This project urges others to take this viewpoint with their own lives. Winter Service Plans: We made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This year, we invited the entire Greek community to join us in our efforts. Fact: Our chapter won the Spirit Stick at Homecoming this year!
Signal Centers Halloween party with Sigma
SIGMA University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN Founded December 5, 1993 38 Actives • 17 New Members President’s Project: “Stop the Stigma with Sigma” Mental Health Fair Winter Service Plans: Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week Fact: Our local mascot is the duck. We made a “duckling” manual for our new members, which was a scrapbook containing pictures and information about each of the actives. TAU The University of Texas at Austin—Austin, TX Founded 1994 UPSILON University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA Founded 1997 CHI University of South Carolina—Columbia, SC Founded 1998
OMEGA Rutgers University—New Brunswick, NJ Rechartered 2015 49 Actives • 15 New Members President’s Project: Buddy Ball Winter Service Plans: Our sister Evanna is going on an alternative winter break trip to Portland, OR, for social and environmental justice. She will be volunteering for an organization called the rebuilding center, where they take houses down and recycle the material to sell. Fact: We have three legacies after less than a year!
Alpha Alpha sisters at Dance-a-thon for Kayla’s Hands
ALPHA ALPHA Northern Arizona University—Flagstaff, AZ Founded 2000 45 Actives • 24 New Members President’s Project: Working with NAU Best Buddies Fact: We raised enough money at a fundraiser we put on for Best Buddies to buy one of their buddies a new wheelchair. ALPHA BETA University of Mississippi—Oxford, MS Founded 2003
Winter Service Plans: In the coming weeks, some of our members will be participating in “Into the Streets,” a community-wide cleanup event, and a Memorial Run to remember those who were injured or killed in the recent OSU homecoming accident. Fact: Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding our university’s homecoming celebration, our chapter, along with Alpha Gamma wrote “Dear Future Sister” the gentlemen of Theta letters to prospective Chi, won four awards members in this year’s Homecoming competition, including Sweepstakes and Grand Marshall. ALPHA DELTA Georgia Southern University—Statesboro, GA Founded 2006 35 Actives • 31 New Members President’s Project: We had a Mary Kay body positivity night. Sisters sampled Mary Kay products and shared good vibes and compliments. It was a great way for us to decompress and clear our minds during this very hectic semester. Winter Service Plans: Our sisters are all planning to work on service projects throughout the winter. Some will participate in alternative breaks and volunteer trips, others will run in charity 5Ks, and much more. Fact: This year, we won the overall spirit award and also broke a school record for the number of cans during homecoming week. ALPHA EPSILON Southeastern Louisiana University— Hammond, LA Founded 2006 A nice relaxing evening of Teach a Sister. Yoga with Alpha Zeta can get intense!
Alpha Gamma sisters at Threads of Hope fundraiser Psi Chapter outdoor service project
PSI Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, TX Founded 1998 11 Actives and New Members President’s Project: Love-In-A-Box (see page 4 for photos) Fact: Our local mascot is a sea turtle named Franklin.
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ALPHA GAMMA Oklahoma State University—Stillwater, OK Founded 2004 41 Actives • 23 New Members President’s Project: For the national President’s Project, we used an app called Charity Miles that donates money to the Alzheimer’s Association for every mile we walk/run/bike. Each member was required to complete at least 10 miles, with the option to do more for individual service hours.
ALPHA ZETA Kennesaw State University—Kennesaw, GA Founded 2006 27 Actives • 29 New Members President’s Project: Out of Darkness walk in Atlanta, GA Winter Service Plans: Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, Finals stress reliever table, Teach a Sister: Letter shirts. Fact: Our chapter wrote 114 letters to soldiers as part of Bert’s Big Thank You, which they received during the holiday season.
CHAPTER REPORTS ALPHA THETA The Pennsylvania State University— University Park, PA Founded 2006
Alpha Iota greeted soldiers during Operation Welcome Home
Winter Service Plans: Members will obtain signatures for the International Violence Against Women Act, participate in the KU Dance Marathon, serve at a nursing home, and set up our university’s Tunnel of Oppression, which seeks to educate students on privilege and social justice. Fact: Our sorority recently got first place in the student group section of homecoming!
Alpha Lambda sisters built their new home during Habitat for Humanity’s Shack-a-Thon.
ALPHA IOTA Notre Dame of Maryland University— Baltimore, MD Founded 2009 22 Actives • 8 New Members President’s Project: Anxiety awareness panel and community discussion. We hosted an informational seminar for the entire campus that discussed and debunked myths about anxiety and panic attacks. Students, alumni, psychologists, pharmaceutical professors, the university counseling center, and one of our most beloved school sisters, gave presentations. We hope to continue serving our university community by offering support and raising awareness. Winter Service Plans: We are helping local Baltimore families for the holidays, feeding the homeless, Operation Welcome Home, along with more on the President’s Project. Fact: Our school is so small, that last spring our sorority had so many sisters, that before graduation, 1 out of every 10 woman on campus was a sister in Omega Phi Alpha!
ALPHA NU Texas State University—San Marcos, TX Founded 2013 ALPHA XI University of Central Florida—Orlando, FL Founded 2014 ALPHA LAMBDA North Carolina State University—Raleigh, NC Founded 2010 27 Actives • 13 New Members President’s Project: Erase the Stigma Mental Awareness Talk Winter Service Plans: Salvation Army bell ringing and Angel Tree staffing Fact: We had our first OPA Spirit Week last November!!
ALPHA KAPPA University of Kansas—Lawrence, KS Founded 2010 58 Actives • 26 New Members President’s Project: Project Linus—each member completed four hours of service making blankets for children who are seriously ill or traumatized.
Alpha Xi sisters participated in a walk Lake Eola to support the fight against breast cancer.
ALPHA OMICRON University of Florida—Gainesville, FL Founded 2014 27 New Members President’s Project: Service events at University of Florida, a family day, and worked with 9 out of 10 organizations.
Alpha Mu Chapter at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Alpha Kappa members participate in Replant Mt. Oread, where trees and bushes were planted to help beautify the campus and promote sustainability efforts.
wanted a fun way to manage their stress and work on their own mental health and educate them on these important issues. Winter Service Plans: Our service activities included volunteering at Boston Public Health Care, Red Cross Food Pantry, Room to Grow, plus finishing our secret sister gift exchange. We planned new events, such as decorating cards to send to soldiers, and Delete Blood Cancer, a drive to register students for the bone marrow registry. Fact: During the fall semester, our chapter started bringing our chapter mascot, Buzz the Bumblebee, to service events, sisterhood events around campus, and even on trips home with some of our sisters! Every time Buzz went on an adventure, our sisters took his picture, and added it to our Facebook page. If you want to follow Buzz, and see what our chapter is up to, simply like our Facebook page: Omega Phi Alpha Boston University.
ALPHA MU Boston University—Boston, MA Founded 2011 51 Actives President’s Project: We handed out bubble wrap with little attached notes that have facts about mental health on them. This happened during “dead week.” Sisters made the notes and distributed them to students at the food court. Final exam period is an extremely stressful time for college students, so we
ALPHA PI West Virginia University—Morgantown, WV Founded 2014 50 Actives • 22 New Members President’s Project: We raised $894 for the Alzheimer’s Association and participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Winter Service Plans: We raised money to send care packages to the troops in Iraq, held a bake sale to buy a local no-kill animal shelter a new window, plus had our winter retreat! Fact: Nov. 15, 2015, was our chapter’s first Founder’s Day!
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Let OPA Light Your Way Back Home Digging for Diamonds April 15–17, 2016 Norwalk, Connecticut
Save the Dates Omega Phi Alpha diamonds are scheduled to light up and sparkle over Norwalk, Conn., this spring, when alumnae are invited to reignite in the glow of friendship, leadership
Please update your contact information at https://members.omegaphialpha.org or email email@example.com. If you are a Beta, Lambda or Pi chapter
and service in this special reunion event.
alumna, please spread the word to your
OPA sisters with 10 (topaz), 25 (sapphire)
fellow sisters. Visit the Omega Phi Alpha
and 40+ (diamond) years of membership
National Service Sorority Facebook page
will also be honored.
for updates. Formal invitation to come.