The Triangle • Spring 2020

Page 40


By Liz Johns, Delta Omicron, National Archivist

Sigmas seizing the opportunity to volunteer: A brief history of Tri Sigma Volunteerism “Seize the chance, give all you can to anyone who needs.” - Florence Vickers, Iota, First Social Service Chair

Volunteerism has been an integral part of the Sigma Sigma

Sigma identity since its beginnings. To be a sister of Sigma

Sigma Sigma is to volunteer your time, your energy, your money, and most importantly, your love. Our volunteer efforts may look different today through fundraising events such as Rocking for Robbie, donating time to play therapy rooms, and handing out

water bottles at March of Dimes events. Still, the same intrinsic drive and desire to serve is the same as the women of our sorority’s past.

New members learn early on in their sorority experience

that volunteerism is one of the key components of being a Tri Sigma woman, and many of us take that spirit on well after college. Throughout our history, Tri Sigma has seen a long

line of dedicated volunteers help keep the sorority and their

communities strong and vibrant. Lucy Wright and other founders were members of the Y.W.C.A., volunteered for the Red Cross, and worked in their local communities. Not only did Lucy

Wright help create Tri Sigma, but she also participated in the establishment of a branch of the Y.W.C.A. in her hometown.

Tri Sigma began organizing service efforts as a national

organization just before the United States entered World

War I. Florence Vickers, Iota Chapter, was appointed as the

first national social service chairman in 1916 after graduating

with a master of Pedagogy from the Colorado State Teachers College—now the University of Northern Colorado—in 1915.

Florence had begun her service work with her local chapter, but her work was recognized at a national level when she served as a charter member and 1915 convention delegate for Iota

and began corresponding with Mabel Lee Walton. She focused

40 the TRIANGLE | fall 2019

the sorority’s first national service efforts on supporting the

war effort during World War I by coordinating chapters in selling

Liberty Bonds, war stamps, and adopting war orphans. Florence

unexpectedly passed away in 1922, and Bess Davis, Iota, continued the facilitation of social service efforts for the sorority for the next decade.

At the 1931 convention in Mackinac Island, MI, Tri Sigma

began the tradition of collecting pennies on Founders Day to

support social service projects. The first pennies endorsed the

founding of a library for the John Randolph School in Cumberland County, Virginia, near Alpha Chapter. The library opened in 1932, and Tri Sigma created a United States Museum at the library in

1947. Alpha Chapter took on most of the regular volunteer efforts at the library until the school closed. Today, the foundation still

collects birthday pennies, and our national volunteer program is

strong. But Tri Sigma women today still follow the same path as our founders, volunteering locally with collegiate and alumnae

chapters and in their communities. Florence chose this quote to

accompany her 1915 photo in her college yearbook, “The secret of success is pluck and constancy to purpose.” Over a hundred years later, this quote still rings true for volunteers—women who work hard and stay dedicated to the sorority and their communities, moving ever forward.

If you have a Tri Sigma volunteer story, photos, or

memorabilia to share, contact Liz Johns, National Archivist at

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