This weekend I attended my first Rotary Land of Lincoln PETS. PETS stands for President Elect Training Seminar, It’s Land of Lincoln because it involves 3 Rotary districts, two from Illinois and one from Southern Indiana. Old Abe, who during his lifetime lived in both states, was there in cardboard format only, and he was a bit camera shy.
It was a weekend of connections. At the first event on Saturday, I ended up sitting with a Kappa Alpha Theta. The end of the first session involved some moving around from table to table. A woman joined my table and said “you look familiar, have we met before?” I, too, said she looked familiar, but I told her it was my first Rotary event. Just before we were to move to a different table per the speaker’s instructions, I asked her if she was a P.E.O. Indeed she was. Mystery solved. We had attended P.E.O. Illinois State conventions at the same time.
In another session I sat with a president of a Champaign area club. I told him there was an archives at the University of Illinois where I could live out my days researching. He said he was a Phi Kappa Tau from Kansas State. In telling how he ended up in central Illinois, he mentioned that he had worked for the Syracuse Stage. Turns out I attended at least one of the productions in which he was involved. The show? Vanities, which centers on a trio of sorority women.
One of my favorite quotes from the weekend came from one of the best speakers there, a gentleman from Louisville, Kentucky, who did a session on public relations. He spoke about a visit to one of the Oklahoma Rotary Clubs; its members were so enthusiastic and upbeat that it was “like being at a fraternity rush party.”
During the last session on Sunday I glanced at the school ring worn by one of the men at my table. It had Greek letters on it. Turns out that in addition to serving in his second term as a Rotary Club president, he also serves as a chapter adviser. That conversation led the president of the other Carbondale Rotary club to say that she was a Tri Sigma. We had been talking all weekend and that never came up.
The skills one learns as a member of a Greek-letter organization are easily transferable to service clubs such as Rotary. It’s something I’ve always believed and my experiences this weekend reaffirmed that. (And did I mention that Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, was a fraternity man. See http://wp.me/p20I1i-22E?)
I offer congratulations to Bill May, Executive Director of Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, upon receiving the state of Tennessee’s highest award for artistic achievement. On Tuesday, March 17, he was one of 10 Tennesseans who received the Arts Leadership Award. In addition to being a terrific leader, Bill is a genuinely good guy.
Bill is also a talented stained glass artist, but four years ago, as a member of the Arrowmont Board of Governors, he stepped up and took on the position of Executive Director when the school needed him the most. He put his own work on hold to lead the school through one of the most trying episodes of its history. Bill’s leadership has served Arrowmont well. Arrowmont has come into its own. I am confident that it will continue to flourish as one of the country’s premier arts and craft schools. Classes are open to all levels of skill, including beginners. If you’re in need of a life-changing experience, I highly recommend taking a week-end or longer class at Arrowmont. The catalog is at www.arrowmont.org.
On Tuesday morning, there were two Pi Phis on the Today Show at the same time, Savannah Guthrie (University of Arizona ) and Jennifer Garner (Denison). One of my facebook friends said, “Let’s pretend they sang a Pi Phi song after the interview.”
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/