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The Gift of Service: Alpha Rho
by Deirdre O. Keating

There’s nothing like hanging a new calendar to put you in a reflective state of mind. What do you want 2006 to be about? Is your resolution one of the more common ones: to get in shape, get organized, or get out of debt? Perhaps Moab’s Alpha Rho sorority can inspire you to make a resolution that’s not about “getting” anything but about giving back.

The Alpha Rho sisters have been giving back to Moab since 1955. You probably already know them from their annual pecan sales or the big yard sales at the Hawks home that they sponsor every spring and fall. What you might not have known is that they give all those profits to charity groups, and even more of their time to volunteer for our community.

A chapter group of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Alpha Rho shares the international organization’s goal: “to bring good people together to accomplish good things—locally, nationally, and internationally.” ESA evolved from a women’s book club in Jacksonville, Texas back in 1929. It came into being because a group of women felt the desire to learn, grow, and serve together - and they did something about it. With over 1000 chapters today, the group raises more than $10 million each year and provides more than 650,000 hours of “hands-on” service, collectively.

Our local chapter, Alpha Rho donates regularly to the Grand County Food Bank, Search and Rescue, Seek Haven, and, on a national level, to Easter Seals and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even more inspiring are the hours their members give to those in need, whether it be as volunteers for Grand County Hospice, or running Bingo every week for Allen Memorial Hospital’s extended care patients. Since the beginning, showing compassion to children in need has been a priority for Alpha Rho, with donations to Sundwall preschool, and volunteers for eye screenings and book fairs at Red Rock Elementary.

Ruth Christensen, the current President of Alpha Rho, puts it simply, “We’re part of Moab.” She says the group is united by their desire to volunteer and their friendship. It also helps, she says, that the group has always agreed that family comes first. There are no requirements to commit a certain number of hours. This year’s Philanthropic Chair, Carolyn Lema, says that by being a larger group, people share the load and there is no guilt---everyone does what they can. Incentives are given by the state and international councils’ rewards, but the real reward, according to Carolyn, is that “wonderful feeling of knowing you’re helping people in need.”

At one time, there were three ESA chapters here in Moab, but Alpha Rho is the only one remaining. Bobbie Long was one of the original members of the group, and is still a bedrock leader in the sorority. She is especially proud of the nursing scholarship Alpha Rho sponsors each spring, in memory of Betty Dravage, a member who passed away several years ago. “Some students keep in touch with us, and let us know how they are proceeding. Becky Bolden, now a nurse in Grand Junction, really involved us in her progress through school---and it was a wonderful feeling to know we contributed to it.”

Applications for the nursing scholarship are available through the counselor’s office at Grand County High School.

The group brings together women from all age groups, regardless of race, color, or creed. They meet twice a month in a member’s home, once for a business meeting and again for a social/educational gathering. Guest speakers often join them; most recently Connie Haycock shared the goals of the Children’s Justice Center, and Matthew Minkevitch talked about The Road Home in Salt Lake City, which aims to help families-in-need find homes and jobs.

Service, said Bobbi Long, is “more of a way of life than one thing you do.” While the Alpha Rho chapter is already near their membership limit, it only takes 8-10 people to begin another ESA chapter. Inalyn Meader is the current Vice President and Rush Chair to contact with questions. Whether as a member of a group or as an individual, find a way to contribute to your community this year. Let 2006 be about giving, and you’ll reap what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “one of the most beautiful compensations of life: that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Alpha Rho awards check to Seekhaven

Donating to the Sundwall Center

Come help out with Bingo!

Donating to Search & Rescue

Alpha Rho Yard Sale

Volunteering at the Red Rock Book Fair

Weekly Bingo at Allen Memorial Extended Care
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