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The Lyre, Fall 2010 / Member Assistance Funds

AnneHelliwellby Anne E. Helliwell
(Gamma Iota, University of Florida)

I have always loved The Symphony and have a framed copy on my desk. It serves as a daily reminder of not only what it means to be an Alpha Chi but also how to live life. “To shed the light of love and friendship round me…” These words capture the essence of how the Foundation helps our members with grants and scholarships. But perhaps these words are most meaningful when talking about Member Assistance Funds.

The first Member Assistance Fund was established in 1985, and its purpose was to provide financial assistance to Alpha Chis over the age of 60. Since then, donors have established five additional funds, and several are available to collegiate members, younger alumnae and for other situations, such as for the family of an Alpha Chi Omega. In 2004, using funds from the convention Star Booth, the Board of Trustees established the “Sisters Helping Sisters” Fund. This fund provides financial assistance to members regardless of age and without some of the requirements found in other funds.

Grants are need-based and are awarded to those facing unforeseen financial difficulties due to life changing circumstances. The Foundation’s tax status limits grants to those which are charitable and philanthropic; therefore, dues and fees are not covered. Grants have been used to pay medical expenses for members or their children. Rent was paid for an elderly member, and living expenses were covered for a collegiate member whose father passed away leaving the family with a very limited income. The husband of a member was able to take unpaid leave from his job to care for his terminally ill wife. Because of a Member Assistance Grant, a young mother had health insurance while in graduate school, and a single mom didn’t lose her home when she lost her job.

When asked why she established a Member Assistance Fund one donor replied, “Alpha Chi has been a lifetime commitment for me providing volunteer opportunities, joys and friendships throughout the years. Creating a fund to help sisters in need was another way for me to give back to Alpha Chi.” Another donor said it was a way for her to “live our Ritual” and help make a difference in someone’s life.

There is no deadline for applications as they are reviewed by the Foundation’s Member Assistance Grants Committee throughout the year. Grants are awarded on a case by case basis. All information pertaining to the grants is confidential. An application can be obtained on the website or by contacting the Foundation.

Member Assistance Funds… another way we are linked heart to heart.

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