I had no intention of writing a post today. However, I knew this morning, while sipping coffee and skimming social media, that I needed to write a post. After walking the dogs and having thoughts spin around in my head, I am writing this. Is is not as polished as I would like it to be, but I hope you will give me some charity and disregard the rough edges.
Today is the International Day of the Girl according to the tweet by the Circle of Sisterhood. In November 2009, Ginny Carroll, an Alpha Xi Delta* who has worked with Greek-letter organizations since her stint fresh out of college as a Alpha Xi Leadership Consultant, was watching an Oprah Winfrey interview. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of the book Half the Sky, were discussing their visits to poor countries around the world. They told of how women were victims of oppression and violence simply because they were women. Carroll felt compelled to do something. She discussed it with some of her friends who were sorority women. Within five months, the Circle of Sisterhood became reality and five months after that, the IRS granted it 501(c)3 status.
The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation’s mission is to “to uplift girls and women from poverty and oppression through education.” The Circle of Sisterhood has granted more than $845,000 to organizations in 22 countries. Fifteen schools have been built in Malawi, Senegal, Haiti, Nepal, and Nicaragua. By coming together and linking arms, sorority women (and fraternity men, too!) have the opportunity to change the world.
On an unofficial Facebook page there was heated discussion about Cottey College, the P.E.O. Sisterhood’s college in Nevada, Missouri. Of course I had to add some background to the discussion. Here is what I wrote:
This is not a new discussion. Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard gave the college to P.E.O. in 1927. A recommendation to sever P.E.O.’s connection with Cottey College was slated to be presented before the 1933 convention of Supreme Chapter. held in Kansas City, Missouri. All 882 delegates, officers and visitors went to Nevada, Missouri, by special train to tour the college. Later, when the recommendation to discontinue support of Cottey College was called for a vote, it was soundly defeated. Cottey has a unique spot in higher education. Being an all-women’s college is a tough sell for many young women, but when a match is made and the right woman finds Cottey, magic happens and a life is changed. Frankly, there is little to be derived from the sale of the buildings. Finding a buyer would be very difficult. I suspect if it ever were to come to pass, the selling price would be pennies on the dollar. The fact that we can change lives at Cottey College is a story that we do not tell with vigor.
Cottey College is a very special place. As I walked the dogs around the neighborhood, I though about the Day of the Girl and how great it would be to have some of the young female students who have been touched by the generosity of sorority women through the Circle of Sisterhood also experience the magic that is Cottey College. Could we help them enroll in the college halfway around the world and envelop them in the love of P.E.O. sisterhood? P.E.O. supports an international project, International Peace Scholars, a project which came about after World War II. International students attending Cottey College are eligible to apply for an IPS scholarship; they are the only undergraduates eligible for the IPS awards.
If nothing else, I hope this post makes you aware of these two special things – the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and Cottey College. I support both organizations and I hope some of you do, too.
*The founding chapter of P.E.O. at Iowa Wesleyan University became the Beta Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta in 1902 when P.E.O. left the collegiate ranks and became a community organization.