The Sesquicentennials Begin!

Indulge me please. Pi Phi’s 71st Biennial Convention celebrating our 150th was one for the record books. On Saturday, at the luncheon where we invited our Panhellenic Conference friends, I was seated next to the Sigma Delta Tau representative. She joked that she was the only SDT not in New York celebrating her organization’s Centennial. Happy 100th Sigma Delta Tau!

Celebrations are on the horizon. P.E.O. will turn 150 in 2019. Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma are planning celebrations in 2020 with more NPC groups to follow them.* I encourage my Panhellenic friends to start saving their pennies in order to attend their organization’s celebration.

My friend Harper Whitten, Alumnae Regional Director – Region 2, wrote from the heart when she penned these words for a Facebook post:

I never before thought about what others think when they see me post about Pi Phi. I just figured non-members and members alike could see what an amazing organization it really is. Maybe it’s not always evident with the non-stop convention pictures of flower arrangements and elaborate desserts. Among those fun pictures though are some serious accomplishments like...

1400 women surpassing our $150,000 goal by raising $239,795 in one weekend for Pi Beta Phi Foundation.

Pi Beta Phi Foundation announcing a capital campaign to raise $28 million for Fraternity operations, leadership training, education and scholarships, literacy initiatives, and collegiate housing.

Pi Beta Phi Foundation announcing $19,772,791 has already been raised for the campaign including $6 million from Pi Beta Phi Fraternity.

40,000 books donated to the St. Louis community in one day bringing our ‘lives impacted’ total to 1,128,156, surpassing our goal of impacting one million lives from convention 2013 to convention 2017.

Five more Signature Fraternity Day of Service events announced for March 2018 which means another 100,000 books will be donated across the United States in one weekend.

Seven incredible women became alumna initiates and one remarkable alumna, Dr. Ellen Stofan, former Chief Scientist of NASA, received our Member of Distinction Award (Did I mention I was privileged to escort her to an event and then sit at her table during the lunch she was recognized at?!)

Our Grand President exemplified servant leadership by placing a $21,000 bid (and winning) for our Ring Ching Roadshow car, with all of the funds going to our founding location and historic site, Holt House.

WOW! I can’t even fit all of our weekend accomplishments and announcements in one post. But I will challenge everyone to learn more about Pi Beta Phi, Pi Beta Phi Foundation, and our newest partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and DONATE, PARTICIPATE, and ADVOCATE to inspire a lifelong love of reading! #piphiproud #piphi150

Harper Whitten, a Pi Phi Director, in her “I am One” shirt at Citygarden in St. Louis.

It was a phenomenal convention. Local Convention Chairman and former headquarters Executive Director, Renee Ross Mercer and her committee did an incredible job. At the final banquet, she was honored with the Dorothy Weaver Morgan Award for Fraternity Loyalty.

The historical display featured 15 mannequins wearing period clothes from each of Pi Phi’s decades. While many gave me credit for doing them, it wasn’t me. Props Chairman Kathy Weber went above and beyond to make it happen. She did an incredible job!

Lori Poveromo Haight with the mannequin from her decade in college.

I did have a hand in the banners and the six displays of 25 years each. It’s not easy to pack 25 years worth of history in a 2’x2′ displays and get them done in less than three hours but I took on the challenge nonetheless.

The display for 1942-66. The photo in the top left corner is of Jean Wirths Scott, Past Pi Beta Phi Grand President and NPC Chairman, when she was a Chapter President of the Bucknell University chapter.

While I could go on and on about the friends who were there, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades, I will not bore you. I did have the opportunity to reconnect with someone I hadn’t seen since I was a collegian at Syracuse University. She was a Travelling Graduate Consultant the year I pledged and I remembered meeting her all those years ago. She now lives in Texas and she told me that her visit to snowy Syracuse led to her seeking out a warmer climate.

For those of you who love marching bands, here are the wonderful members of the St. Clair High School Marching Band from St. Clair, Missouri, under the direction of Tim Karth

Members of the St. Clair High School Marching Band in the Scottrade Center. This special summer appearance was voluntary and these high schoolers gave it their all. I hope there are future GLO members among them.

My daughter, who was a 2011 Convention initiate, attended and although we didn’t have much time to catch up, it was fun to chat with her during the Literacy Walk around the Arch. As we headed out of the hotel, someone said, “You two must have planned that.” Dumbfounded, we both said, “Planned what?” She pointed at what we were wearing with our white “I am One” t-shirts. I had on blue and she had on wine. Totally unplanned!

There was a post-convention tour to Holt House. I will never tire of telling the story of Ada and Libbie renting a room from “Major” Jacob Holt and starting the organization in that second floor southwest bedroom.

We should warn D.C. that the Pi Phis will be there in June of 2019. I’ll start saving my pennies for that celebration!

*Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu’s Sesquicentennials took place in the early 2000s. Both were founded at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Alpha Delta Pi was founded in 1851 as the Adelphean Society. In 1905, the Adelphean Society changed its name to Alpha Delta Phi and established its Beta Chapter  Salem College in Winston-Salem. Phi Mu was founded as the Philomathean Society in 1852. In 1904, its second chapter was established at Hollins College.
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