By: KenTessa Mason
An important aspect of life is building relationships that last. Productive long-lasting relationships impact one’s personal and social life. Bonds are built with family members, classmates, teachers, and people whom we identify ourselves with. Strong bonds influence our daily lives and traditions. One of the most important relationships is sisterhood. It is a close relationship between girls and women who love and support each other throughout the obstacles of life. Sisterhood is a source of support, self-esteem, affection, and fun for many women. Sororities pride themselves on building this type of sisterhood relationship with its members. Many people may know a family member such as their sister, aunt, or cousin in a sorority. Some people have friends they know who are in a sorority. When a lot of young women go off to college, joining a sorority can give them that sisterly bond that they may miss from back home. They are able to meet different women from another part of the country or state, with different goals and dreams, and be able to make lasting friendships with them. Sororities are home away from home and even become family as the relationships grow. Sisterhood is the backbone and mission of many sororities.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities pride themselves on building sisterhood. Some National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta. All of these are historically black sororities founded at Howard University, which is a historically black college. These sororities were founded by young women who wanted to build sisterhood amongst each other, improve their communities, and be a service to the world and those around them. Collegiate members of these sororities hold numerous campus events and statewide events to help strengthen their sisterly bonds. An example would be a step show where the different National Pan-Hellenic sororities from make up step routines and perform them in a competition. Alpha Kappa Alpha promotes unity and friendship among college women (AKA Sorority, Inc.). Some honorary members of AKA are Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and Alicia Keys. Founded in 1908, it is a legacy of sisterhood and service (AKA Sorority, Inc.). The AKA sorority held an event called the Martin Luther King Day of Service. On the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, Obama called for an issue of Renewing America’s Promise: A Day of National Service to Honor Dr. King’s Legacy (AKA Sorority, Inc.). AKA members were able to mentor at-risk middle school students, prepared and served meals at soup kitchens, packaged donations to be sent to Iraq, donated clothes and paper products to the homeless shelter, and participated in annual parades, marches, and unity walks in honor of Dr. King (AKA Sorority, Inc.). This event helped the sorority members to build on their sisterhood and not only impact each other but those in their community and across the country. A program the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority holds is its global poverty initiatives. The goals for this program are to end world hunger, preserve the environment, and empower women (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.). The program provides food production skills, and training in livestock and environmentally sound agriculture (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.). This program shows how the sorority sisters work to improve the lives of people around the world. The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is a private, non-profit organization and a sisterhood whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). Founded in 1913, Delta women hold political offices, own businesses and are influential in a range of fields from medicine to law to education. The major programs of the sorority are based upon the organization’s Five Point Programmatic Thrust: Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). A program that the sorority has is called Delta GEMS. The Delta GEMS is made up of five major components (Scholarship, Sisterhood, Show Me the Money, Service, and Infinitely Complete), which form a road map for college and career planning. Some of the topics within the five major components are designed to provide interactive lessons and activities that provide opportunities for self-reflection and individual growth (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). This program helps the sorority member’s work on their sisterhood with each other and with their community. In an interview I did with my aunt, Benita Ransom, who is a member of Delta Sigma Theta she said, “Sisterhood is about bonding, it is an opportunity for genuine love and caring for one another, understanding that collectively you can make a difference in the community you serve.” That interview showed how much sisterhood really meant not only to her, but also to her sorority. It is a prize possession they take with them throughout life. Another program Deltas have is their Sick Mission Hospital. In 1955, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority began making plans and laying the groundwork to establish a maternity hospital in the east African country of Kenya (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). The plans for a facility came to completion in the early 1960s when Delta made a major donation to help finance the construction of the Thika Maternity Hospital in Thika, Kenya, which is now named Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). The first hospital to open after Kenya gained its independence; Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital continues to be operated by the missionary sisters of the Holy Rosary (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.). This program really shows how much Deltas can come together as sisters and make a difference in other peoples lives. A third National Pan-Hellenic council sorority is Zeta Phi Beta. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was founded on the simple belief that sorority exclusiveness and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). Founded January 16, 1920, Zeta’s sought to establish a new organization predicated on the precepts of scholarship, service, sisterly love and finer womanhood (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). Z-HOPE, which stands for Zetas Helping Other People Excel, is an outreach service program that has six primary objectives, corresponding measures of success and a mechanism for chapter recognition (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). Z- HOPE was created to provide culturally appropriate informational activities, foster collaborative partnerships between community organizations with shared goals, facilitate community service and mentorship opportunities for members of the organization (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). This program not only is a service to the sorority’s community but to building a stronger sisterhood. The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority has a partnership with the March of Dimes that encourages women to seek prenatal care within the first trimester of pregnancy, which would increase the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). They call this program Stork’s Nest. Nationwide, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sponsors over 175 Stork’s Nests, and last year the Stork’s Nest program served over 28,000 women (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). Stork’s Nest clients earn initiatives from maternity or baby care items (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). Through a variety of positive, health-promoting activities such as attending prenatal care appointments, participating in prenatal education classes, keeping appointments for well-baby visits, Zetas promote health and unity among many women (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). This program is a way the sorority sisters come together and help improve the health of pregnant women. The National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities all use their community service to make their sisterhood stronger and to make their communities stronger.
The Pan-Hellenic Conference sororities also pride themselves on sisterhood. Some of these sororities include Alpha Phi, Phi Mu, Alpha Delta Pi, and Chi Omega. The following sororities have numerous members across the country on numerous college campuses. They have started foundations that give back to their community, promote high academics and strengthen their sisterhood at the same time. Alpha Phi is a sisterhood of outstanding women supporting one another in a lifelong achievement (Alpha Phi). Alpha Phi sisters share a commitment to excellence and a strong desire to help one another and their communities. Alpha Phis are contributors, scholars, leaders, and lifetime members of a sisterhood that values these traits (Alpha Phi). Some famous members of Alpha Phi are Andrea Wong, and Jennifer Joines. A way they reinforce their sisterly bond is through their Campaign of Leadership. This campaign has a program called the Chapter Leadership Development (CLD). It is designed to give its collegiate members the skills and tools to be active followers, and to promote an environment where all chapter members understand how to be leaders (Alpha Phi). It leads team efforts and works to successfully utilize group dynamics that are skills fostered by this initiative (Alpha Phi). The program is also based on Alpha Phi’s core values of sisterhood, scholarship, character development, and leadership. It is a twice-a-year program that presses the issues confronting many of today’s young women (Alpha Pi). Alpha Phis are sisters for life, who support one another through every life stage and help each other in times of need (Alpha Pi). Alpha Phi Foundation helps also through the Forget Me Not Fund. Gifts through this fund give assistance to alumnae who are facing severe financial distress, serious health issues, who face the consequences of natural disasters, urgent family crisis, and to collegians that face an interruption of education due to unforeseen personal or financial struggles (Alpha Pi). These funds offer Alpha Phis in need the greatest gift of knowing that their sisters care and are always there to help. Phi Mu is another Pan-Hellenic Conference sorority that develops a bond of sisterhood amongst its members. Phi Mu was founded in 1852, it is a women’s organization, which provides academic and personal development, service to others, commitment to excellence and lifelong friendships through a shared tradition (Phi Mu). Phi Mu promotes energetic living, encouraging members to achieve their personal best (Phi Mu). Some famous Phi Mus include Angela Long Hammer, head writer for Guiding Light, and Susan Harling. An event this sorority holds to develop sisterhood is called Phi Mu Day. Phi Mu Day is held in numerous states annually throughout the United States (Phi Mu). The event is a good time for the seniors to network, alumnae chapters to gain new members and for all Phi Mus to celebrate their history (Phi Mu). Ceremonies are held during Phi Mu Day, with speakers and time for celebrating their sisterhood. By Phi Mu holding this event they are able to network with other sorority members and strengthen their sisterhood. Phi Mu is a sponsor of Torch Relay for Children’s Miracle Network (Phi Mu). The Torch Relay is a multi-day event held in different cities throughout the country (Phi Mu). This is where participants can walk, run or cycle a segment of the 5K relays to raise money for their local Children’s Hospital (Phi Mu). By the member of Phi Mu coming together and participating in the relays, they are able to help children hospitals and unit as sisters for a great cause. A third sorority from the Pan-Hellenic Conference that reinforces sisterhood is Alpha Delta Pi. Founded in 1851, Alpha Delta Pi is a sorority committed to sisterhood, values and ethics, high academic standards and social responsibility (Alpha Delta Pi). Alpha Delta Pi has a foundation called the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation. The mission of the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation is to give essential resources for the sorority’s educational, leadership and philanthropic activities, and to improve the lives of women and the communities they serve (Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, Inc.). Some famous Alpha Delta Pi members are Nancy Grace and Michelle Pfeiffer. The foundation supports many programs such as scholarships to members enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs, fund emergency grants to alumnae, educational programming at conventions, volunteer leadership seminars, and leadership training for collegiate and alumnae members (Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, Inc.). This foundation uses these programs and workshops to develop their community, and the sisterly bonds of their members. The programs bring alumni and current members together to help their sorority sisters with education or leadership training. An additional sorority that builds sisterhood is Chi Omega. Started in 1895 at the University of Arkansas, Chi Omega is the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world (Chi Omega). Members of Chi Omega strive to be well-balanced women who are involved on their campuses and in their communities (Chi Omega). Chi Omega’s mission statement, vision, and the Chi Omega Symphony are words the sisters live by everyday. Some famous Chi Omega members are Lucy Lui, Harper Lee, and Natalie Allen. To show how much Chi Omegas care about their sisters, they have a Sisterhood Fund set up. The Sisterhood Fund is a confidential alumnae assistance program offered by the Foundation. They help their sisters who are impacted by natural disasters or donations to charity one of their sisters wants to help. By Chi Omega having this fund set up, it shows how much they care about their sisters well being. The thing all of these sororities have in common is that they have programs and foundations that not only develop the sisterhood amongst each other, but also help develop their communities.
Sisterhood is really a big part of sorority life. Various experiences have helped many of alumnae who have participated in the following sororities, which exemplify many long lasting strong bonds. It helps the women in the sororities to build long lasting bonds with each other. All of these sororities not only pride themselves in strengthening sisterhood amongst each other, but they use their bond to help uplift their community. They are able to inspire change in their communities and around the world by working together either through various programs, foundations, or service days. Sorority sisters elevate each other in areas such as academics, leadership, and their aspirations and dreams. Their sisterly bonds are shown when they donate funds to their sorority sisters in times of need such as disaster relief. The bond of sisterhood is strong among sorority sisters and continues to grow with every event or struggle they face. Sorority sisters are able to meet knew people and build a relationship of sisterhood that last a lifetime.
Benita Ransom. Personal Interview. 1 Nov. 2012
“Campaign For Leadership.” Programs. Alpha Phi Sorority. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://foundation.alphaphi.org/
“Delta GEMS.” Programs. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://www.deltasigmatheta.org/gems.htm
“Our Mission.” Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://www.alphadeltapi.org/
“Our Mission and Creed.” Phi Mu Sorority. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://www.phimu.org/Home
“Program Initiatives.” Service. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://www.aka1908.com/service/program-initiatives.html
“The Chi Omega Foundation.” Chi Omega Sorority. Web. 1 Dec. 2012 http://www.chiomega.com/wemakeadifference/thechiomegafoundation
“Z-HOPE.” Signature Programs. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. http://www.zphib1920.org/zhope.html