Thursday, March 15, 2012

Back where I Began

My last blog post highlighting a chapter visit was my journey to Los Angeles. I would now like to begin wrapping up the Fall 2011 semester with my last chapter visit. I ended my visits how I began them – in Buffalo, NY.

Even though I was scheduled to go to a lot of other chapters for the rest of the semester, there were some circumstances that kept me near home for the last weeks of the fall semester. So I headed up to Buffalo when I was able, and in November, I was lucky enough to be physically present when the colony was notified they were approved to be chartered. The colony I worked with for more than five weeks throughout the fall semester, the group who had come so far, the women who I grew close with were soon to become a chapter. It was a very exciting reveal. I got the notice from my boss and had the women all gathered in their meeting room on campus. I knew the Council’s vote was that evening and bought celebration things, like sparkling grape juice and cupcakes, in hopes they would be approved (because they could have denied it). I kept the goodies in the room next door until I announced the good news.  Rather than just making the announcement, “Yay, you’re getting chartered,” I wrote a small poem and the chapter president read it to the membership.  It was gratifying seeing their faces light up with joy! They then had a group hug and started singing the Fraternity Hymn together, swaying back and forth with smiles on their faces and laughter in their notes. It was a great night. And then the planning began…
The women singing the Fraternity Hymn

I helped plan the members’ initiation service and the chapter’s Installation Banquet.  The most challenging part was finding a venue to do this in because we were working with a very short time frame. We found out on November 14th the Installation was going to occur December 3rd, so the time crunch was on! Luckily, my second home, Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, was a great option to have both the Ritual and the banquet, and they were so helpful during the planning stages. Thankfully I interned for one heck of an event planner in my alma mater’s Development Office, so I had some idea of what kind of details to keep in mind when event planning.  My experiences with Jessica introduced me to so many things I would have normally overlooked; that opportunity really did teach me a lot (though probably not enough) and I’m forever grateful!

The Ramada set the rooms exactly how we wanted them, provided the centerpieces, set up the AV equipment, provided hotel rooms for our National Council guests coming in. They were really great. When we wanted to peek in the rooms late the night before, they were there to open it. When we were a little late cleaning up, they were so pleasant. The trusty Ramada is always there for us.

Because we are always working with a tight budget (who isn’t these days?), I was very conscientious when it came to getting materials for the weekend. The Ramada gave us a free room and discounted hotel rooms, the florist who had better yellow roses gave us a competitor’s price, and a printing company gave us a discount on printed programs. This is where my newfound nickname came about. The Shark was on the prowl for good deals for this event.

I arrived to the Ramada on Thursday, and the event was happening on Saturday.  Headquarters shipped all sorts of materials to a local alumna’s house, and when I arrived on Thursday, her husband and I packed them all up in my two-door Cavalier and I brought the stuff back to the hotel to get unpacked and ready to go for Saturday.  You should have seen me wheel all of this stuff on one of the hotel’s carts – in one trip. It’s okay, be amazed by my skill… or blown away by my lack of common sense.  Allison and the ladies from National Council came in on Friday, and I spent the day getting things ready.  Allison and I didn’t even get to bed until about three in the morning and we had to be up around six because we were preparing for the big day – it was quite the evening. And it was very difficult to get up after our night’s sleep nap.
The materials! (all of which surprisingly fit in my car)

The next morning we held initiation, which was great.  We had some local alumnae participate in it, and the women were all so excited.  After that was the luncheon banquet, where the chapter was presented with its charter, chapter plaque and other gifts.  The women invited their significant others, families, and Buffalo alumnae. It was nice for them to have guests there to share in their celebration.
Gifts for the chapter -- and inexpensive yellow roses

The welcome speech given by the past colony president

The centerpieces from the Ramada

The new chapter women and members of National Council

After the ceremony, we packed up and on Sunday, Allison and I headed out to Indianapolis together. The Educational Consultants were beginning mid-year training that Tuesday, so it worked out in terms of traveling logistics. It was convenient for her not to have to pay for a flight and it was delightful to have some company for such a long car ride! Unfortunately, due to all of the supplies and materials and luggage, Allison was a little bit squeezed in the front seat. But we made it – it was late and the drive was dark and rainy, but we arrived safely.

All in all, it was great to see the women I got to know so well in the fall have this experience. And it was exciting to see how an Installation event is done!

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