Supporters Like You
Read about supporters who inspire the next generation of real, strong women.

Lark Will 

(Delta Iota, Emory University)

“Alpha Chi Omega has been such a strong part of my life for a long time.” When it came time for Lark Will (Delta Iota, Emory University) to review her estate plan, the question was not whether she should leave something to Alpha Chi Omega, it was where and how much.

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“I was the first person in my family to join a sorority, and while Alpha Chi Omega certainly supported me during my college days, I did not know at that time how important it would become to me as an alumna. I’ve moved all over the country for my job, and my first call in a new city was always to the president of the local Alpha Chi alumnae chapter. I never felt like a stranger in a new town if my sisters were close. I want all women to know that kind of special bond.”

In appreciation for what Alpha Chi Omega has given to her, Lark included a provision in her will to help preserve the Real. Strong. Women.® Experience in perpetuity. Including the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation as a partial beneficiary in her bequest afforded Lark the ability to not only support the organization that she loved so much, but also to ensure those she loved were taken care of.

By including Alpha Chi Omega Foundation in her will, Lark has allowed the organization to financially plan for the future, and she will receive the recognition she so deserves.

Marsha King Grady

(Alpha Upsilon, The University of Alabama)

“I want the impact I am making through my annual gifts today to continue for years to come, even beyond my lifetime.”

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“As a past chapter advisor and Past National President, I am incredibly proud of the skills and opportunities we are providing our collegiate and alumnae sisters to develop into the best versions of themselves. I recently established the Marsha King Grady Leadership Fund to support educational and leadership programs that are part of the Real. Strong. Women. Experience. Through this endowed fund, my gifts will make an impact in the area most dear to my heart now but will also ensure I continue to have an impact in perpetuity.

The perpetuity part was critical in my choice to create an endowed fund. Donations to endowed funds are invested and managed by the Foundation to provide ongoing annual distributions to be awarded as grants. I can, of course, give now to support any educational or leadership program within the Fraternity through the Foundation’s Real. Strong. Women. Fund. But, I want the impact I am making through my annual gifts today to continue for years to come, even beyond my lifetime. With an endowed fund, I am ensuring my support remains constant and, better yet, grows to be even more significant.

My $25,000 endowed fund will generate about $1,000 each year to support a cause that I love. And while that may not seem to be a large impact now, I have also included the Foundation in my estate plan as a beneficiary of my IRA—which will increase the size of my fund after my lifetime.

Isn’t planned giving wonderful? It’s a gift that creates an impact that will continue to grow after I’m gone.”

“Isn’t planned giving wonderful? It’s a gift that creates an impact that will continue to grow after I’m gone.”

– Marsha King Grady

Britain and Chris Riley

(Beta Eta, Florida State University)

“My husband, Chris, and I are passionate about the fraternal experience, and it is no surprise that Alpha Chi Omega (and, of course, his fraternity, Delta Chi) are closest to our hearts.”

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“We want to ensure that future generations of young men and women have similar opportunities to ours. This single-gender fraternal experience is shaping future leaders. We want to help ensure this experience exists in perpetuity for those who follow in our footsteps.

While we are both still relatively young, we are both “planners” by nature. Even prior to marriage, we openly discussed our goals and future financial plans. We truly believe it is never too early to start having open and transparent dialogue, which will ensure you are on the same page and are able to align your goals. We have found that these early conversations have allowed us to see our charitable gifts in action—it is truly rewarding to see the impact of your gift now and know it will grow in the future.

It is also never too early to think about establishing a will. The process allows you to reflect upon your wishes and have candid conversations with those important in your life. It allows one to reflect upon what is important not just now, but in the future, and ensure that the pieces are put in place to fulfill your legacy the way you would want. Documenting your estate plan can give you peace of mind knowing you have eliminated stress for your loved ones in the future and ensured that your wishes are clearly defined.

The process of creating our will was easier than we expected and allowed us to also start the conversations about our personal goals for the rest of our lives. We also found comfort in knowing we could adjust portions of our will should we have major life changes in the future. Chris and I fully believe in the importance of giving of time, talent and treasure to causes we care about. Through our present commitment to longer-term giving, we are able to find peace knowing that plans are in place and that we might inspire others to join us in this endeavor.”

“The process of creating our will was easier than we expected and allowed us to also start the conversations about our personal goals for the rest of our lives. “

 

– Britain Riley

Julie Cain Burkhard

(Beta Sigma, University of Georgia)

“In the spring of 1976, just one year into my membership in Alpha Chi Omega, I received a gift of stock from my parents.”

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“Betty and Clay Cain gifted 10 shares of AT&T stock to me; I was 19 years old at the time! My dad worked for AT&T for over 30 years and invested not only in the company, but in his family through the purchase of stock.

I accepted the gift happily, not knowing what I would do with the stock someday but knowing how much it meant to my parents to give it to me. As my dad said to me, “Hold on to it, let it grow and someday you’ll have a reason to either gift it to someone else or liquidate.”

That day came in December 2018 when I transferred all shares from that original 10 shares to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation for the benefit of the Campaign for 1064 S. Lumpkin St., the campaign to renovate and expand the Beta Sigma chapter house at the University of Georgia. With the assistance of the Foundation staff and Goelzer Investment Management, Inc., I easily completed the paperwork and successfully transferred my gift of stock to the Foundation.

It was a gift of gratitude to my parents for the foresight they had so many years ago to give me an opportunity to give back; thankfully, my opportunity was my membership in Alpha Chi Omega.”

Lynn Janetzky Bower

(Epsilon Kappa, California State University, Fullerton)

“I consider myself an unlikely fundraiser for Alpha Chi Omega. But somehow, through the years, I’ve helped raise an impressive amount of money to support scholarships through the Foundation.”

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“My work on most of Epsilon Kappa’s endowed funds (now six!) with the Foundation stemmed from my volunteer work for Alpha Chi.

It began when I was national scholarship chair from 2000 to 2004. I read thousands of applications from collegiate and alumnae members brimming with accomplishments and hopes and dreams—and even stories about tough times. It was exponentially rewarding to know our sisterhood could help them be better leaders, better students and better people—and that I was helping make that happen as a member of the committee. But I was saddened by the many women we couldn’t help due to limited numbers of scholarships available.

I saw that my own chapter, Epsilon Kappa at Cal State Fullerton, had no funds that specifically benefited our chapter members. What!? Epsilon Kappa leads the way in Alpha Chi Omega! I am extremely proud to be an Alpha Chi Omega but also an Alpha Chi from Cal State Fullerton. I thought there was no excuse for us not to lead in the area of Foundation giving (and awarding of scholarships), too.

The first fund I helped start stemmed from the death of newborn Christian, son of one of “my girls,” Denise La Brenz Behle, and her husband, Roger. Denise was an active member when I was chapter advisor around 1990. She had some money that was given to her in Christian’s honor that another nonprofit organization turned down because it wasn’t enough to establish a scholarship. At that time, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation required $15,000 to endow a named scholarship fund. I think the Behles had around $5,000 collected so far. I thought, “How hard can it be to raise the rest? I’ll donate $1,000 and make nine phone calls for the other $9,000.” Ha-ha. The joke was on me. I think we ended up with over 200 donors before we hit our $15,000 goal. But, I just love to look at that fund now.

In 2018, that fund awarded over $2,600 in scholarships to three Epsilon Kappa sisters. The fund’s corpus has now reached over $70,000. I saw Denise and Roger recently at Epsilon Kappa’s 60th anniversary celebration, with tears in their eyes as they shared how much it means to them to receive heartfelt thank-you notes from Christian’s fund’s beneficiaries every year.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big believer in growing future volunteers (and donors) in Alpha Chi Omega. To me, convention is the best place to do that. There is nothing like being in the society of 800 Alpha Chis to inspire a person! I started the Epsilon Kappa Leadership Fund because I believe getting our collegiate members to convention and leadership training is tantamount to creating forever Alpha Chi Omega leaders. This fund is now at $27,000 and awarded over $2,000 to the chapter in 2018 to subsidize the cost for collegiate officers to be part of convention in Austin. I make sure those members see me at convention—every time—and I let them know I expect great things from them. I have not been disappointed.

In 2005, Marie Maya Botvinick established the Heart To Heart Sisters Assistance Fund. Its purpose is to help sisters facing difficult life situations. I had nothing to do with starting that fund—except maybe the part about setting an example and being a mentor for Maya. Her fund is now at $19,000 and awarded $1,200 to two sisters this year.

In 2008, I started and gave to what became the Brooke Fessler Owens Graduate Fellowship Fund. A group of Epsilon Kappa alumnae decided to raise money for the fund by auctioning off naming rights for the chapter’s 30th Anniversary Gala. Brooke’s parents made the winning bid to establish the fund in her name. It now has $25,000, and in 2018, $1,000 was awarded to an alumna of Epsilon Kappa chapter for her graduate studies.

A fifth fund, The Ashley Knight and Courtney Stewart Memorial Fund, was established by the collegiate chapter. Ashley and Courtney were two Epsilon Kappa collegiate members killed by drunk drivers within a year of each other while I was (the second time around) chapter advisor. I remember holding Courtney’s mom’s hand at the funeral—Courtney was a new member who had not been initiated yet. I pinned an Alpha Chi Omega badge on her mom and told her we would be honored to remember her daughter with a yearly scholarship when she was ready. That fund has $35,000 in it now and awarded to one sister a $1,300 scholarship this year.

In 2019, a new fund was established to honor our fallen sister, Dee Dee Bychak Stolshek. Our spirited and endlessly optimistic Dee Dee died last year after a long illness. Epsilon Kappa’s 60th Anniversary gala in November was very emotional as we honored Dee Dee. With the goal of earning the $25,000 by that night, the Foundation staff worked with us to be able to have Dee Dee’s husband, Brad, present the first award of $1,000 to a collegian attending the event. It was magic. It was a beautiful moment.

Dee Dee’s fund was started with a small phone call. Margaret McCarthy—another Epsilon Kappa who was a close friend of Dee Dee’s—called me to pick my brain. Margaret is a major donor at CSUF, and I have been after her for years to be a major Alpha Chi Omega Foundation donor. I pointed her directly at our chief development officer (and my longtime friend) Marsha Grady, and the Foundation team swung into action to make our dream (and Brad’s) of honoring Dee Dee in perpetuity happen.

Fourteen years ago, Epsilon Kappa chapter had no funds designated to benefit the chapter and its members. Now we have six. Setting a good example in
Alpha Chi Omega has always been my motto. But saying “why not?” the first time was the key. If Lynn Bower and Epsilon Kappa can do this, any chapter can. And any member can.

If you had a life-changing Alpha Chi Omega experience like I did, consider creating an endowed fund with the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation to ‘pay it forward’ so that those who come after you will have that same transformational experience.”

Melissa Proffitt

(Alpha Mu, Indiana University)

and Katie Glick

(Alpha Beta, Purdue University)

“Sometimes in the midst of our busy lives we do not realize the impact that our contributions make on the lives of others. What we have to offer of value is our time, our talents and our treasures. How can we make a bigger impact?”

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Alumnae Engagement

“Being engaged is important—period. Over time, we have seen people of all demographics and backgrounds come together to engage and support areas of passion in order to make a difference. Initiatives with a long-lasting impact will influence the most. A great example is our very own Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. A leader in women’s fraternal organizations, the Foundation has created various levels of engagement for all of our sisters and has created ways for even the smallest contributions to make the greatest impact. Their mission is clear: Support the educational and philanthropic purposes of Alpha Chi Omega through effective fundraising and the stewardship of financial resources. To support this mission, the Foundation needs our help. They can’t meet their mission without us—we are the ones who can make a difference!”

The Importance of Giving

“As a women’s fraternity and female-led organization, the Foundation’s primary fundraising demographic consists of women. Study after study shows that women consistently give more than men but in different ways. According to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, women give more across all income levels even though we generally earn less. Why? Because we have been socialized to focus on caring and consideration of the well-being of others, leading us to give in greater amounts to create a larger impact than ourselves. We also think about money differently. Men tend to view money in terms of power and achievement, while women tend to view money in terms of personal security, freedom and a way to achieve goals. With that perspective, women tend to view charity as the most satisfying aspect of wealth.

Our Foundation has provided opportunities for sisters to give across various income levels, focusing on various personal passions. The Foundation allows us to give in an individualized manner.”

Be An Example

“We encourage you to reflect on your time and experiences at your college and ask yourself, would my experience have been possible without the impact of Alpha Chi Omega and the benefits it offered me? If Alpha Chi Omega had a positive impact, ask yourself how you can give back, provide a thank you and pay it forward. Your financial contributions will help provide scholarships, leadership training and educational programming for personal development. It will help Alpha Chi Omega sisters become real, strong women.

Alpha Chi Omega’s core values are wisdom, devotion and achievement. Contributing to the Foundation will support the work of our sorority, our values and our sisters for generations to come. Our ask of you today is simple: Give back financially. Leave your own legacy on our sisterhood and seek the heights for future generations.”

“To support this mission, the Foundation needs our help. They can’t meet their mission without us—we are the ones who can make a difference!”

 

– Melissa Proffitt and Katie Glick

Mary Pat Lambke

(Beta Epsilon, Michigan State University)

“When I joined Alpha Chi Omega at Michigan State University as a freshman, it was because I was looking for friendship and a place to help make my college experience more personal—a home away from home.”

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“What transpired over the four years of college became much more than I expected! I did find friends and sisters, many of whom I am still close with today—some 30 plus years later.

I also found a place to learn about myself and what I might be able to accomplish. I learned about leadership, adversity, philanthropy and community. As my career progressed, I soon began to understand how Alpha Chi Omega had provided me a foundation for my career success.

With that in mind, I also realized the gifts I have been given are not meant solely for me. I wanted to share my gifts—treasure, talent and time—with an organization that is able to launch young women toward successful lives. Since Alpha Chi Omega was prominent in my launch, I simply felt a responsibility to afford other women the same opportunity from Alpha Chi Omega.

While I hope that I still have many years to live, I took the step to name the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation as the first of six beneficiaries of my estate when I do eventually pass away. With this gift, I am entrusting Alpha Chi Omega to push forward through the many challenges and joys of our ever-changing world so that young women from diverse communities can build their foundation for success in their future lives.”

“I wanted to share my gifts—treasure, talent and time—with an organization that is able to launch young women toward successful lives.”

 

– Mary Pat Lambke

Ernestine “Mimi” Fischer Lambertus

Mimi’s journey with Alpha Chi Omega began when she pledged Alpha Beta chapter at Purdue University in 1931.

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Like many college students whose families were facing the financial strains of the Depression, Mimi left school before her initiation and never graduated. She later married her Sigma Chi sweetheart and built a full life in the Indianapolis area. Through the years, she stayed in touch with her Alpha Beta pledge sisters and made friends with many Alpha Chi Omegas in the Indianapolis area. After her initiation in 1986, she became involved with the Indianapolis alumnae chapter.

Mimi then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, in the early 2000s. Her husband had died and most of her family had scattered, so she came to Des Moines to be near her granddaughter. Throughout that period of time, Mimi was a regular donor to the Foundation. She was a surprisingly active and alert 100-year-old who still drove herself to the “old folks home” twice a week to work in the gift shop.

Near the end of the For Now, Forever campaign, Mimi asked how she could establish an endowed scholarship fund, which she did with an estate gift of $50,000. Mimi, who had outlived many of her family members and friends, wanted someone to remember how much she loved Alpha Chi Omega. And she wanted to be sure other young women like her, who were facing financial difficulties during their college years, had a little help staying in school and achieving their educational dreams.

Like Mimi, you too can make a difference in the quality of the Alpha Chi Omega experience for generations of women in the future through a legacy gift to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. Over the years, the Foundation has received numerous estate gifts from Alpha Chi Omega sisters like Ernestine Lambertus. These gifts have come in various forms and amounts, but all share the goal of ensuring Alpha Chi Omega’s future. As Mimi’s example shows, all gifts are helpful in funding the future educational and philanthropic missions of Alpha Chi.

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