Saturday, May 28, 2011

A new chapter

Today is the last day of our immersion trip with AFLV and the Leadership Institute-Women With Purpose. I have had quite a few "last" days this past month and for once I am actually feeling the sadness of a conclusion. I graduated from Fresno State exactly a week ago and today everything seems to be settling in. This service trip was a way for me to get out into the world after graduation, and it has done just that and more. I was able to meet amazing women who allowed me to reflect with them as they continue their Greek experience. The experience both on site with Habitat for Humanity and during our evening leadership discussion allowed me to open up and evoke dreams of my future. As I said a few time during this trip, I am here able to wrap up my Greek experience and begin my new journey as an alumni.

While building I was constantly moving, helping, and talking. The entire week at the build challenged my energy and provoked my mind. It was the ultimate way to fulfill myself, because I was helping to fulfill others. I learned more about my ability to work in a team and handle my frustration. A small incident could have given me reason to give up, but I knew there was only reason to keep going. The build allowed me to reflect on the times in my college and Greek career and recognize those times I may have given up. It all is a learning experience, but for the women here who will go back to their chapters in Fall; they will now have the ability to strive for the good and see the importance of their actions. I will now be able to use my actions in the real world, helping those around me gain confidence and strive for their goals.

The short amount of time at the site, will still provide a lasting impact for a family or individual. This thought is addicting and for me something I want to continue. All of this has been solidified in my life within the past week. These things have been introduced to me while being a Greek member, but now my leadership skills, personal development, and desire to make a change is continuing nto my professional world. There is no better good than a good that changes you and helps others.

Thank you to the Habitat for Humanity for changing lives, the amazing women I met this past week, Erin and Tricia for their guidance and planning this trip, and to all the Greek organizations who have changed all of our lives for the better.

Lauren Smoot is a recent graduate of California State University Fresno and a member of Delta Gamma.

Everything happens for a reason

This trip has been just the break I needed from the everyday worries of college life. This week I realized how truly blessed I am to even call myself a college student. Yesterday we had the chance to see a woman have her Habitat for Humanity house dedicated to her and it changed my outlook on everything. For most of this week I deemed my contributions to the house insignificant and small, but seeing someone cry from joy over their home was such a humbling experience. I know as a college student I take for granted being lucky enough to even take finals or sit through a three hour lab course. I get excited about a new episode of Glee or a class being cancelled. This week redefined what I deem important.

Earlier in the week I was painting the side of the house on some scaffolding several feet off the ground. There was a hole in between two pieces, and the moment I stopped paying attention I fell into the hole, and injured my back. After that I wanted nothing more than to be at home to rest. When I decided to stay I told myself I would not leave the ground. But yesterday, I conquered my fear of getting back on the scaffolding, and finished painting the side of the house. I have never felt more accomplished or proud of myself. Soon after this I felt that all of those feelings would be insignificant because it was only a coat of paint.

The joy on that woman’s face proved to me that all the blood, sweat and tears I have put in this project really did make a difference. I didn’t just paint a house, I painted someone’s home.

I learn how to be a leader through my education and all of the extra-curricular activities I do. This week I learned to lead through a service mission and it was something I will never forget. I would suggest anyone who ever has a chance like this take it. It redefined what exactly a leader looks like to me. It isn’t the president of your chapter or alumni you admire. The leaders of your chapter are those who will selflessly put their needs and desires down in order to contribute to the betterment of your chapter and mankind. I want to bring everything I have learned back to my chapter, and really emphasize the importance of service.

I feel like life isn’t just a coincidence. I think everything happens for a reason. This trip was no exception to that. The women I met and the lives that were changed through our hard work are one of the most valuable memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Stephanie Winn is a student at Belmont University and a member of Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Friday!

I cannot believe that it is already Friday! I was just thinking about how I was a little homesick on Monday (and a little Tuesday) and now I am wishing that I could stay here and spend time with these incredible women for at least another two days.
Today was our last day onsite and it was HOT. I think it was hotter today than any of the other days that we spent out there. Today I helped a little in finishing the left side of the house but I mostly painted. Every time I take a trip like this I like to try to accomplish something that I didn’t think I could, so today Stephanie and I leaned extension ladders up against the back of the house and painted the siding. (I should note here how terrified of heights I am.) However, neither of us were even remotely injured and I feel so accomplished! We packed up early today to go to a Habitat house dedication in another part of the city. We got there just in time to hear the new homeowner say a few words, hear a blessing for the house and take a small tour through it. I think almost all of us were moved to tears being there. It is just such an incredible feeling to see the final product of what we were doing. I hope someday I can come back to NOLA and drive past the house I worked on just to see the final product.

We also got to go out to dinner tonight in the French Quarter. We all shopped for some souvenirs before regrouping at the restaurant. I had jambalaya—which was incredible. I feel like I could have eaten another whole serving of it! After dinner we drove around a bit to site see. We rode passed Tulane and Loyola and through the Garden District. It was incredibly beautiful. There were old houses and trees shading everything. We also saw a wedding and a graduation!

We are all leaving tomorrow and I am part of the first group going to the airport. While I am excited to get back home, I am pretty sad about that because I’d like to spend as much more time with these women as possible—even if it is just a couple more hours. I feel extremely blessed to have been a part of this wonderful experience. I can’t wait to get home and start brainstorming ideas and applying what I’ve learned here in all facets of my life. Hopefully I will be able to take another trip like this again. Or maybe I’ll even lead one someday! I am going to miss these ladies so much and it comforts me to know that some of them aren’t that far away from me when we get back home. I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish (which I know will be great!) in the future. I look forward to seeing them all again very soon.
Maddie Mann is a member of Phi Sigma Sigma and a eenior at Northern Kentucky University.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What a Week!


I got up at 3:30 am, got dropped off to the Indy International Airport and was half asleep and ecstatic to get to New Orleans! I went through Memphis and then to New Orleans. The flights were terrifying because the flights were rough and bumpy. When I arrived at New Orleans the group of girls and I explored the French Quarter. It was very beautiful—and all the buildings were so old and looked so wonderful at the same time for their age. It was hard to believe they were THAT old. The signs throughout Bourbon Street were entertaining. We went back to the house later and introduced each other and went to bed because everyone was exhausted.


Working with Habitat for Humanity was a lot more grueling than one would expect. It looks a lot easier than what it is. The first day I learned how to saw wood and siding--- something no one at home would ever let me touch. So it was nice to have this new skill because it kept me busy for the rest of the afternoon—I also painted. We drove through the lower 9th ward and it was heart breaking after our workday. It was unbelievable how six years later there were so many houses ruined, condemned, and abandoned. Half the houses seem to be in that condition and the other half were Habitat for Humanity houses—it was AMAZING to see all the bright colors the home owners decided to paint their houses  it was very attractive. Our afternoon discussion we discussed leadership and ways to better ourselves as leaders and made a collage to describe ourselves. Mine wasn’t as nice as the other girls, but I feel it is all about being simplistic and past all the “fluff”. My first day was awesome!


UGGGHHH I am still sore from Wednesday! Several girls and I organized the sheds in the back and had lift several long boards that after the first time it felt like they were 100lbs. By the second time I was dropping them and hurting the other girls (I am too weak for my own good), but we did it!!! It was amazing to feel so accomplished and have those bragging rights with how many boards we lifted and siding we moved. My day consisted of organizing the sheds and attempting to lift stuff. As a result, I am now more muscular ;) ! Our afternoon discussion we gave each other advice how to be more organized and better leaders overall. It was awesome to hear everyone’s point of views and different lenses on how they view things. They are defiantly skills I will take back with me to Indiana. The girls are awesome—and I learned during our trivia about each other one of them dated someone from American Idol!! Unbelievable!


Today was very tiring. I got to help the people on the ladders and being out in the sun all day I got burnt today with 100 spf sunscreen. From the sunscreen the dirt that blew on me stuck to me so by the end of the day I was incredibly dirty!!! I also got to make marks for those putting the insulation in tomorrow and mark the spots for them with a pencil. Right now we are all making pizza together ( 8 of them!) and all sorts of different toppings and styles! I am incredibly excited for dinner tonight since it is all I know how to make! I feel useful in a kitchen finally  . Today’s discussion should be awesome and interesting because I am learning so much and eager to bring it back to Indiana to use! So far this has been an awesome experience!

Kim Reedy is a student at Indiana State University and a member of Delta Gamma.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


What a whirlwind this week has been so far! Meeting all of the women as we arrived at the house was fun on Monday night. Touring the French Quarter with everyone and our curriculum discussion on Monday night was really great because I got to know everyone so much better.

Tuesday was quite a bit more intense. Getting to the jobsite, I was definitely not prepared for what was in store. I knew it would be hot and I knew it would be hard work, but it was TOUGH work. I felt like my arms would fall off multiple times! I tried to keep my motivation high, but the importance of our work didn’t completely strike me until we took a drive through Musician’s Village and the Lower Ninth Ward, which is where Habitat has had a huge impact. Seeing the finished work and the outsides of the lived-in homes really hit it home for me.

Curriculum on Tuesday night was incredible. We discussed our personal visions and created visuals for our visions. The discussions that ensued really opened us up to each others’ lives, but they also helped us know where we’re going and start thinking about where we want to go. We were also all excited when our final friend, Amanda, joined us!

Today was also a hard work day onsite, but I think it was easier than yesterday because I knew what to expect. I also feel like we got a lot accomplished today! We had a great team working together on the side of the house and we were getting it done! We hung siding and got a panel of wood nailed up under the roof. Saying it doesn’t make it sound like a lot, but it was hard work! It’s so satisfying to see how well the house is coming along and I’m now wishing that I had taken a “before” picture of the house.

I think tonight’s curriculum was my favorite of all. We discussed our action plans in accordance with what we’ve already been discussing. I had an incredible conversation with Erin about where I want to take my chapter, making a plan of how to do that and also how I can better show my weaknesses and needs to my chapter. It’s only been about an hour and a half and I already have a million ideas running through my head! I am so excited to finish out the rest of the week and see what great things happen!

At the end of tonight’s curriculum discussion, we had to write down on index cards our high and our low for the week. My low was that I can’t stop thinking about leaving all of these amazing women on Saturday. That is going to be so so so incredibly difficult. I am not ever going to be prepared for it.

Maddie Mann is a senior at Northern Kentucky University and a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Working on the Habitat for Humanity build site today brought up so many emotions that I wasn’t really expecting to feel on this trip. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try.

We took a tour of the area most devastated by flooding and it was such a sobering experience. Seeing people’s homes destroyed by toxic flood water, a tally on the front of the home if people were found alive or dead, and so much more. It was heart-wrenching. It was also, in a way, kind of heart-warming. I couldn’t help but think that maybe the people whose homes were lost in the floods were the people who would be living in the house that we are working on building. It’s a long shot but I’m sure stranger things have happened.

Another thing I felt so strongly today were the bonds of sisters. I was working on nailing lips to the tops of what are going to be walls and it was tougher than I thought. I was on the top rung of a ladder, working around a dozen beams, was using muscles I didn’t know I had, and was sweaty. Yet Erin, one of our chaperones, never left. She was holding the ladder steady, giving me advice and encouragement, and told me she wasn’t going to leave until I had nailed that last nail into the beam. When I made mistakes she told me she felt the next nail would be the one to make it through the wood. When I accomplished it, she cheered with me and offered high fives. Erin has only known me for a day and yet she was acting in a way that I would hope my own sisters would treat me. It brings a smile to my face as I type this now, knowing that the bonds of sisterhood cross affiliations, the country, and ages.

I cannot wait to work for another three days with Habitat and witness this house slowly change into a home. I cannot wait to see more of New Orleans and the people who live here. I cannot wait to see where the bonds of sisterhood are going to bring this group.

Jessica Wehby is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University and a member of Alpha Sigma Tau.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome to New Orleans!

In the coming week, undergraduate women from across the United States and Canada will gather in New Orleans, Louisiana for a week of service and leadership education. This joint venture of The Leadership Institute-Women With Purpose and the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values will encourage participants to explore their inner leader while serving alongside homeowners of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

The women will be blogging about their experience throghout the week, and you'll find pictures and videos uploaded to Please feel free to leave comments and questions on the blog post - we look forward to sharing this experience with you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

UA Greek Relief

How did you spend your weekend? The fraternity and sorority community at the University of Alabama spent their time pulling together after the tragic storms that moved through the southeast last Wednesday, leaving a wide path of destruction and devastation, leaving over 350 dead, thousands injured, and hundreds still unaccounted for this morning.

Yesterday, while many of us went about our normal Sunday routine, our brothers and sisters in Alabama prepared, packed, and served over 8,000 hot meals for the people of Tuscaloosa. These young men and women are responsible for 1/4 of the hot meals served in the city in the days since the storm.

In addition to the meals served, they've mobilized their community for donations and volunteers - utilizing Twitter (@UA_Greek_Relief) and Facebook (UA Greek Relief). They are cooking meals on grills in the back of fraternity houses, and sorting donations in their dining rooms. To catch a glimpse of these men and women in action, check out this piece from NBC Nightly News.

This is what fraternity and sorority is all about. We do have the ability to create change in our world, especially when we come together as the men and women at Alabama have in the past few days. Even in the face of their own loss (two Panhellenic women lost their lives in the storm), they are making life a little easier for the people of Tuscaloosa.

Take a look at their website, and consider supporting their effort today. And consider this... imagine the good our Fraternity and Sorority communities have the ability to accomplish, not just when there is tragedy, but 365 days a year. What reality of Greek Life are you creating?