By Kelly Magyarics, Pittsburgh
It’s that time of year again when leaves are showing their glorious shades of red and gold, nights are growing increasingly shorter and the calendar is down to just a few pages. And, it’s also time to come together to celebrate Founders Day, to mark the occasion of six very special young women at Monmouth College who formed Alpha Chapter—the creation of our beloved Fraternity, Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Speaking of time, in celebrating our six Founders and their bold efforts, October 13 is a perfect opportunity to take stock in our relationship with Kappa Kappa Gamma. How do we make time for Kappa in our already busy lives? It is so very precious and fleeting; many of us feel that there never seem to be enough hours in a day, and the ones we do have pass way too quickly. What is it that inspires each of us to continue to be part of this international organization, to keep our Kappa sisters close and to offer our talents to make the Fraternity grow even stronger?
Let’s think about the Founders for a moment. It is safe to assume that they didn’t have much free time on their hands. Living in rural Illinois, these six young women (who remember, ranged in age from 16–20), most likely had a bevy of household chores each day, from cooking and cleaning, to tending to siblings and the garden. All of these tasks would have been on top of their curriculum at Monmouth. There, the Founders’ studies in the classics, literature, science and math would have been demanding enough without the lack of support, indifference and even overt animosity displayed by the faculty and male students, who really didn’t want women there. But, these young women aspired to be more.
Despite this lack of time (or maybe because of it), our Founders decided to create an organization of women supporting women, to give each other the support and assistance that they weren’t getting from the rest of the campus community. The early gatherings of Kappa Kappa Gamma were literary meetings and study groups, where the Founders wore keys in their hair, rehearsed speeches, held book discussions and learned about Plato, Socrates and Julius Caesar. They also somehow found the hours to create the name, motto, password, badge and other cherished symbols of the Fraternity. (It’s no coincidence that the basis of our secret matter, symbols and the very name stem from early Greek and Roman teachings, as these were the core of most college curriculums during that era.)
So in essence, our Founders spent a lot of their already valuable time planting the seeds and creating the foundation of an organization that has thrived for almost a century and a half. Today, we reap the rewards of their efforts, and we take this opportunity to honor their resolve and dedication.
For each of us, time is also a sacred commodity. We have work, family, volunteer and other commitments each and every day. So where does Kappa Kappa Gamma fit into our lives? Well, we’ve all taken an hour or longer out of our crazy schedules to come together right now for the beautiful Founders Day ceremony. However, this event occurs just once per year, and though we are all true-blue Kappas, some of us may find ourselves to be fair-weather sisters. How can we keep Kappa relevant in our daily lives, and make it as integral a part of our character—of our very essence—as it was when we took our initiation vows years ago?
We can take a moment to call—not text, email or Facebook message—a pledge sister with whom we’ve fallen out of contact. We can spend an hour at a chapter meeting to advise an officer and give her a fresh perspective. We can attend the chapter or alumnae association’s big philanthropy event for the entire afternoon. And on the flip side, we can take a moment to acknowledge and be proud of all we have already given to Kappa throughout our membership—and what Kappa has given us in return. In doing all of these things, we pay tribute to six young women who created something small that blossomed into something much bigger, and recognize that in doing our little, perfectly, we are linked to all Kappas through the ages.
Tomorrow, we celebrate the great Fraternity those six women founded, now 145 years old, with its 139 chapters, 255 alumnae associations and more than 270,000 total initiated members.
Let us reflect on our six Founders’ efforts and what they have given us. These courageous, smart, headstrong and determined women marched into that chapel on October 13, 1870, to create an organization that would offer them purpose and support. They paved the way for all Kappas who wear the golden key and pledge their loyalty. In 2015 as in 1870, it’s a great time to be a Kappa! Happy Founders Day!