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The Interns’ Guide to the Galaxy

(Friendship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

After three months of Friday field trips and weekend adventures in the city our Fraternity calls home, we interns created a list of our 10 favorite experiences in Columbus, Ohio.

1. Eat and explore your way through German Village.

Whether you’re strolling down the brick streets of Columbus’ quaintest neighborhood while snacking on a delicious macaron from Pistacia Vera, hitting up Harvest Pizzeria for mouthwatering pizza made from farm fresh ingredients (where we spent a hefty portion of our paychecks, TBH) or getting lost in one of The Book Loft's 32 rooms of bargain books, a day spent in German Village is always picture perfect.

2. Hop down to Short North. 

If you like gallery hopping and perusing local art, coffee shop hopping (while winning a free t-shirt), or immersing yourself in cultural cuisines, the Short North Arts District is here for you.

3. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks …  

Even if sports aren’t your thing, you should still spend a day at a Columbus Clippers game. The atmosphere of the park on a breezy summer night genuinely made this one of our favorite intern memories. 

4. Don’t let your summer flutter by without a trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory.  

The breathtaking botanical gardens, the chance to play with butterflies and vibrant collection of Chihuly glasswork made this our favorite Friday field trip. 

5. Not your average movie night.  

Hosted in the stunning and historic Ohio Theatre, the CAPA Movie Summer Movie Series is the nation’s longest-running classic film series. A different film is featured each week and tickets are just $4. 

6. Fashion emergency? 

Then you better head to Easton Town Center. With a dine-in movie theatre, endless restaurants and shops ranging from Anthropologie to The Container Store, Easton is here for all of your splurging shopping needs. 

7. Let loose your inner-child at COSI. 

Experiencing the interactive exhibits at Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry is like getting to reenact The Magic School Bus in real-life for kids of all ages. Check out COSI After Dark for even more grown-up fun. 

8. Nothing common about the Commons 

The Columbus Commons is a mid-city oasis. This downtown park boasts food trucks on Thursdays, concerts (most of them free) multiple times a week and there’s even a carousel, so you’re always sure to have a good time. 

9. I scream, you scream…  

Everyone in Columbus screams for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The name is no exaggeration. There’s a reason this is a must-have for Fraternity Council meetings. 

10. Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.  

Call us nerds, but we loved hanging out the library — we almost had our mail forwarded to us there. Free books, free movies, fantastic study spaces and a newly renovated building? It’s everything an intern could want. 

Honorable Mentions  

We really loved these places too and couldn’t bear not to share. 

  • Replenish Spa 
    • Located in a carriage house next to Headquarters, this nonprofit spa offers traditional beauty and skin services as well as yoga classes. 
  • Columbus Museum of Art   
    • Cultural, within walking distance of HQ, newly renovated and free on Sundays. Go. 

  • Hocking Hills  
    • While technically not inside Columbus city limits, the trails, caves and waterfalls of Hocking Hills State Park make it worth the drive.
  • Thurber House
    • Another Friday field trip favorite, the home of playwright, New Yorker cartoonist and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty author James Thurber offers self-guided tours and many opportunities for creativity and community engagement.

  • Columbus Park of Roses 
    • One of the largest public rose gardens in America, it’s like stepping into a fairytale. There are also walking and biking trails, baseball fields and tennis courts for all your athletic needs.
The Interns: Morgan Christie, Ohio Wesleyan; Grace Brown, Utah; Lauren Bellatti, Oklahoma; Cara Bargiacchi, DePauw 

Intern Spotlight: Cara

(Education, Friendship, Leadership, Scholarship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Cara Bargiacchi, DePauw


My summer as the Catherine Schroeder Graf Heritage Museum Intern for Kappa Kappa Gamma originally started as a mystery. When someone would ask me what my job would be, I honestly couldn’t tell them. It wasn’t until I met with Kylie Towers Smith, Simpson, Archivist/Museums Director, that I learned what my role would entail. Not only would I give museums tours, polish silver and discover the history behind our organization, but I’d have the opportunity to choose my own project. I was overwhelmed at first. After all, Kappa has been around for nearly 145 years; how was I going to choose just one project?

Destiny of sorts decided my project for me. One day while searching through Kappa’s online archives, Kappapedia, I happened upon an entry about Jean Nelson Penfield, Kappa’s eighth Grand President. When I read that she too had gone to DePauw, I knew that I had to find out more about her.

It was a process that would involve almost 30 different Archives and Historical Societies, a trip to the DePauw University Archives and hours looking through old newspapers, books and documents. In the end, the story of Jean Nelson Penfield came to life.

Born to a very wealthy family in Greencastle, Indiana, Jean received a superior education compared to many of women of the time. During college, she won the Inter-State Oratorical Competition, the first female to ever win this competition. She also received the only perfect scores in the history of the competition. As a member of Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at DePauw, she attended the first meeting of what would eventually become the National Panhellenic Conference.

After DePauw, Jean ventured to New York City where she attended the Metropolitan Conservatory of Music and founded the Musical Aid Guild, a scholarship program to help those who were less fortunate attend the school. While in New York she met her future husband, Judge William Warner Penfield, and they began their life together in 1897. They had two children; however, both died as infants. As a way to help her cope with the loss of her children, her Kappa sisters convinced her to accept the nomination for Grand President of the Fraternity, a role in which she excelled. During her presidency, Jean focused on careful expansion of chapters, alumnae involvement, civic and social issues, and creating better university-owned housing for women. 

Jean stayed involved in Kappa for the remainder of her life, earning an Alumnae Achievement Award in 1950. In 1946, she was one of the first ten Kappas to receive a 50-year pin. It was Jean who presented Kappa with Iota friend Minnie Royse Walker’s diamond and sapphire fleur-de-lis pin, “to be worn by the President on all suitable occasions,” the very pin worn today by Fraternity President Beth Black.

After her Kappa presidency, Jean earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. She became the department head for women and created a lecture series that educated women about parliamentary law and their rights in divorce proceedings and life in general. For the rest of her life, Jean fought for gender equality, a fight that continues today.

This woman, our sister, was ahead of her time. To find that connection with someone who lived long before me, in a different time, place, and society, is truly what Kappa is all about. Though Jean was before my time, her values mirror my own and show me how the bonds of sisterhood extend throughout time. We may not have dressed the same, listened to the same music or shared a talent for singing but we did share one thing: Kappa.



The Next Great Kappa Chapter

(Friendship, Leadership, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Lucy First, DePauw; Chapter Council Adviser, Ohio Wesleyan; Contributing Writer/Editor, The Key

I remember many things from my senior year at DePauw University: my 30-page senior seminar, the multitude of job applications completed in the wee hours, and, of course, the bittersweetness of commencement. But one of my strongest memories came in November, when the incoming Vice President-Organization was sworn in, taking my place on Chapter Council.

Since joining Kappa I had taken an active leadership role, eventually being elected Membership Chairman and then VPO. Despite the extra responsibilities, I loved every minute of it. I truly felt I was leaving a positive, lasting contribution within our chapter. I worried what my relationship with Kappa would be without these leadership roles. How would I find meaning in Kappa after graduation?

After graduation, I moved back to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and quickly realized that I knew very few people. Luckily, I had kept in touch with some Kappas from my summer internship at Fraternity Headquarters. One of them, Libbi Rettew Vynalek, Virginia Tech, encouraged me to attend Founders Day with the Columbus Alumnae Association. I was nervous. It would be my first official Kappa event as an alumna, and I had no idea what to expect.

It was at that dinner that I would start my next chapter with Kappa. The Advisory Board Chairman and Chapter Council Adviser at Ohio Wesleyan, Ericka Greene, informed me that she would be stepping down to become a Province Director of Chapters. She asked me if I would be interested in transitioning into the role of Chapter Council Adviser. Without hesitation I said, “Yes!”

Now, I am working with my third Chapter Council at Ohio Wesleyan. Just like my college days, I spend late nights working on Kappa emails and my to-do list. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Working with the undergraduate members of the chapter has allowed me to continue to find meaning in Kappa while also giving back to the organization that has given me so much. Perhaps most unexpected is the multitude of friends– spanning across the country and several generations–that my Kappa volunteer work has brought into my life.

About a year after I graduated, my mom asked me what was the best decision I made while in college. My answer was easy: joining Kappa. Not only because of the four years of memories in the chapter, but also because of all the friendships and personal growth it has afforded me in the years after college.

Staying involved with the organization after graduation is easier than you may think. You can use the Kappa website to find a local alumnae association. You don’t have to attend every event, but try to attend at least one. You never know who you might meet or what opportunity may come your way. If you’re interested in serving as an adviser, your local alumnae association can help you find chapters in need of alumna support or you can reach out to the PDC near you. Whether you have a little or a lot of time to devote, there’s so many ways that you can keep Kappa a part of your post-graduate life.

Everyone writes their own Kappa story. But let me speak from personal experience when I say the best ones include Kappa after college. What will your next Kappa chapter be?



50 Random Acts of Kindness

(Friendship, Leadership, Philanthropy) Permanent link

By Collett Rangitsch, Wyoming, Director of Standards


In the fall of 2012, I was staring down the big 5-0 that was approaching in eight months.  I’m not one for parties or celebrations, but I wanted to celebrate this one in a big way (for me). I wanted my celebration to be something meaningful, not in an in-your-face kind of way, but something that could include others and be a true challenge. Then one day I stumbled upon someone who was doing random acts each day of her 50th year. While I’m dedicated, I’m also realistic. With eight months to do 50 random acts–“I can do this,” I told myself.  
So I made a list of 50 friends and relatives (I’m a list maker and need constant reminders) and started the search for something to give to these friends to remind them of the challenge I was about to begin. As luck would have it, I found Pay-it-Forward bracelets made by the Oregon company Nashelle. The tagline on the card: “Believe there is good in the world— start locally and watch the world begin to flourish.”

I gave one to each friend that I asked to join me in the 50 Random Acts Challenge. Each member of the Fraternity’s chapter team was given one and in January 2013, I set out to document my journey. At first my acts were less random and more intentional— the challenge, the bracelets, paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind me. Then one day I realized I was no longer just intentionally doing acts of kindness, but I was simply being more kind to others. I was holding the door, making eye contact with strangers, saying good morning. These little things made me feel good both physically and mentally. I managed to complete my goal of 50 acts by mid-June, and soon realized that I had forever changed my habits, completing random acts of kindness without even thinking about it.  
In August 2013, for the eighth year in a row, I spent my birthday at Fraternity Headquarters with my Kappa friends.  We went out to a great dinner and I was thrilled that there was no big deal made about it being a big day for me.  Upon returning to HQ, I got the surprise of my life when the chapter and Leadership Consultant teams showered me with their own acts of kindness.  The chapter team created a special book for me, each writing a page of what the challenge meant to them and some of the acts they had done.  The cover – “Believe There Is Good in the World” – is perfect; the words inside are one of my most treasured gifts.
They spoke of stepping out of their comfort zone to do something for others, they mention how sometimes those on the receiving end aren’t as receptive to the act, and they spoke about being inspired.  
Their finale was reaching out to a Reading Is Fundamental program near my home in Wyoming. Each donated a book in my name to a local school.  I can’t describe the emotions that I felt at that moment. Books, something that I myself love dearly, were donated in my name, all because I challenged others to join me on this journey!

So, as National Random Act of Kindness Week begins today, consider doing something special for a random person and be the good in the world.

Editor’s Note: Feb. 9–15  is International Random Act of Kindness Week. Join in the celebration by doing your own random act of kindness and step out of your normal routine. Share your acts using #RAKweek and #KKG and you may be featured on Kappa’s official social media channels.

The Snowman Tree

(Friendship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Honora Faix Handley, Allegheny  

Honora Headshot

When I was a sophomore at Allegheny College, one of my favorite traditions was getting together with my Kappa sisters and watching Frosty the Snowman when it aired on TV.  We would drink hot chocolate, write cards or do our homework and then go outside and sled down the snowy hillsides.

One year, I decided I should have a small Christmas tree to decorate my college dorm.  I found a fallen pine branch and decided to decorate it with paper snowmen.  Each year, I added to my collection.  Kappas I knew started giving me snowmen as gifts. Before I knew it I had a small collection.  I didnt have children at the time but decided that if and when I did, it would be my childrens tree. 

After business school in Philadelphia, I moved to Atlanta and joined the local alumnae association.  It was there that I formed some close, new friendships in a new city for me.  One of the events held annually is the Ornament Exchange. The concept is simple – bring a wrapped ornament, draw numbers, pick a wrapped ornament or steal an ornament that you prefer (with a rule that an ornament can only be stolen twice).  It became my favorite Kappa event since it gave me the opportunity to fundraise for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, but also allowed me to build my snowman collection with Kappas. Others were focused on the owls, the fleur-de-lis, the golden keys and shiny Santas.  Not me I was after the snowman!

Every year for the past 11 years, I would steal a snowman and add it to the tree.  I became known for stealing snowmen and people would bring one just for me. True to Kappa form, no one was ever upset.  I would write on the back which ornament exchange it came from and cherished each and every one.  There was a vintage Frosty, a cotton-stuffed one with button eyes, some pre-war blown glass snowmen made in Poland and Russia, and many more.  My snowman tree had truly become my Kappa tree.  I now have three young daughters and they get excited for the Ornament Exchange and wait with eager anticipation to see what snowman comes home each year. The leftover cookies are a plus too!

These memories are happy for me, but sadly, the snowman tree no longer exists.  Our home burned to the ground in a devastating, three alarm fire this past March.  While our immediate family was safe, everything was lost, including the entire snowman ornament collection.  As the holidays approach, we are becoming keenly aware that we have nothing to decorate. There are no more ornaments, no stockings or lights. 

Honora House

I was supposed to chair the Ornament Exchange again this year, but after the fire, I had to politely decline.  Everyone understood why.  I usually brought my champagne glasses, heirloom china tea cups, silver, linen napkins and other items to the hosts home to use for the Ornament Exchange.  That is all lost now.  It is difficult to articulate the devastation, sorrow, frustration and range of emotions one has after a total loss fire.  The holidays make the pain and realization of the loss worse. 

After the fire, Kappa sisters in Atlanta brought food, dishes and cups.  Some gave us clothes, toys and books for our girls. One Kappa even bought my daughtersEaster dresses.  Kappas from my own Gamma Rho chapter around the world sent items, one as far away as Australia.  As a family, we were very touched and moved at the outpouring of support from Kappa and we will remain eternally grateful.  My daughters all witnessed how my sisters did what they could to truly help us in our time of immediate need.  These three little girls saw the value of sisterhood and it was a wonderful life lesson for them – to help people when you can and to accept help when you need it. 

Now, once again, the Kappa Ornament Exchange is on the calendar.  My Kappa sisters in Atlanta have seen firsthand how much I loved the Ornament Exchange and have generously offered to help me rebuild the snowman tree at this years event.  The invitation sent out to the Atlanta Alumnae Association invited the Kappas attending to bring an extra ornament, a snowman, in order to help me rebuild my lost collection.  This simple, small gesture has so much significance and meaning to me that it brings tears to my eyes to write this.

It means we will have ornaments for a tree. It means that my girls will once again be excited to see snowmen from the Kappas.  It means some of the burden of putting on Christmas after the fire will be lifted.  It means building new, positive memories for our family that we will enjoy forever. 

It also means that this new snowman tree will truly always be a Kappa tree, built from the bonds of sisterhood and all of the values that KKG holds dear and true.   When our house is eventually rebuilt, and some of our belongings replaced, we plan to host the KKG Ornament Exchange and put the snowman tree on display for all to enjoy as a symbol of our sisterhood. 


Editor's note: On December 6, the Atlanta Alumnae Association held their annual Ornament Exchange. Below is a photo of Honora's new snowman tree, filled with ornaments from the event. "My family was thrilled to receive so many wonderful new snowmen," says Honora. "My children had such joy opening the gift bags and placing the new Kappa snowmen on the tree. They will now have new Christmas memories thanks to the Kappas."

The Snowman Tree

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