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Founders’ Day Challenge

Abby RittenhouseBy Abby Rittenhouse
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University
Student Trustee

When I think of Founders’ Day, the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful legacy seven determined and passionate young women created in Alpha Chi Omega. Seven women who decided to create the first and last musical fraternity one fall day in October. That one chapter of seven women has turned into 143 chapters and colonies full of real, strong women doing service, raising awareness and developing leaders. I owe everything to those seven women. They are my sisters, my role models and my Founders. Founders’ Day is so special to me because although Alpha Chi Omega has grown tremendously over the years, our values and Ritual have stayed the same. We still proudly wear the lyre badge, the colors of scarlet red and olive green, and continue daily to seek the heights.

I currently serve as a student trustee for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and chapter president for the Zeta Sigma chapter at Missouri State University. Being chapter president has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. A chapter of 285 women can be overwhelming at times, but with a hardworking executive team and dedicated, loyal members, there is a constant sense of sisterhood. I find no greater joy than seeing the accomplishments of my sisters, whether on campus, in a new career or within Alpha Chi Omega.

Our chapter typically celebrates Founders’ Day with a celebration at our chapter house involving refreshments and a lot of cookie cake! We reflect on the history of Alpha Chi Omega by reflecting on our Founders, symbols, traditions and Ritual. We encourage members to partake in acts of service and friendship in the days surrounding Founders’ Day as well. This year, we are trying something new: a “carnation pass.” We will have seven carnations and will pass them around to sisters throughout the day to celebrate our founding.

In addition to our Founders’ Day celebration, we enjoy participating in the Founders’ Day Challenge benefiting the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. This year, chapters will have the ability to decide where they want their donations to go, which creates an even more personalized experience.

By having our chapter participate at 100 percent, it means that every single woman wants to make a difference. They want to make a direct impact on initiatives such as domestic violence awareness, Leadership Academy, the Global Service Initiative, educational programs or other programs of their choosing. Every single woman wants to create a better collegiate experience for her sisters and a better community for all. Every woman wants to continue to support the Foundation so Alpha Chi Omega can continue to shape us as leaders, advocates and sisters.

When it comes to having a conversation about giving, I think the most important thing is to explain to members where the money is going. When some people hear “the Foundation” or “Founders’ Day Challenge,” they may not know what that means. The conversation starts with discussing the Foundation and the direct impact it has on all Alpha Chi Omega members. Without the Foundation, we would not have educational programs for chapters or initiatives for domestic violence awareness. The Foundation is such an amazing entity of Alpha Chi Omega, and every chapter member should be aware of it.

The conversation continues with the direct impact of donations. Last year, collegians raised $54,000, which was more than half the total amount raised during the Founders’ Day Challenge. We can make a difference, and we do make a difference. We discuss the personal impact the Foundation and Alpha Chi Omega have made in our lives. Something I am going to incorporate into the conversation this year is pictures of sisters volunteering at the Global Service Initiative, attending Leadership Academy and participating in other educational programs. None of those experiences would have been possible without donations from people just like us.

Just the small amount of $18.85 can make such an amazing impact. $18.85 is a few trips to Starbucks (I know I already went to Starbucks twice today, so I reached that limit), two trips to Panera, a new dress from Forever 21 or the newest Beyoncé album on iTunes. The conversation is not something to be feared; the most important thing about the Founders’ Day Challenge is having a meaningful conversation about the Foundation and bringing awareness to the great causes it supports.

“I support the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation because of the opportunities and experiences that arise because of the Foundation’s contributions,” said VP philanthropy and Global Service Initiative participant Jayne Sokolich. “If it weren’t for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, I wouldn’t have had the honor and privilege to attend the Global Service Initiative in Jamaica that impacted me so deeply. The Foundation offers resources to further members’ knowledge and awareness about the issue of domestic violence. The Foundation offers scholarships for my sisters who may not be able to easily have access to a college education. I support the Foundation because it helps foster learning experiences, helps foster new friendships, holds Alpha Chi Omega’s values to heart and helps every member reach their potential of being real, strong women.”

The 2016 Founders’ Day Challenge launches this weekcheck out this year’s event here!

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