Spring 2020 Newsletter

First of all, we hope this finds all of you safe and healthy during these challenging times.  Even though our Centennial celebration weekend has passed, we thought it would be good to continue the regular newsletter updates we’ve been sending. 

Update on the Chapter and the House
by Britney Sauer, Chapter Advisor

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the difficult but important decision to close the Chapter House in mid-March. All but one of the girls has moved her things out of the house at this point.  Our members have been incredibly flexible with all of the changes in academics, their personal and professional lives, and with chapter events.  Most importantly, none of our current members has been infected with the virus so far.

To stay connected, members have hosted a PJ Zoom party, a virtual calligraphy class, and most recently, a fitness class.  The recruitment team has been meeting virtually to continue with summer recruitment plans as well as hosting chapter-wide workshops via video conferencing. While we await a decision on what fall recruitment will look like, our team has been working hard to make sure we are as prepared as possible.

In these uncertain times, the Chapter continues to celebrate achievements and on May 4th, the Chapter will honor graduating seniors with a virtual ceremony. As the Omega Chapter Advisor, I cannot speak highly enough of our members. They have been extremely flexible and gracious during this hard time. We have had sisters open their homes, volunteer time, and make donations when possible. I am so proud to work with this Chapter and look forward to seeing their smiling faces at 2005 University Avenue in the near future.

Summer House Renovation Plans
by Renee Tucei, HCB President

Given the economic downturn and uncertainty resulting from this pandemic, the House Board approached the plan for summer renovations at the House with a great deal of caution and conservatism.  Decisions have yet to be made as to when, or even if, classes will resume in the fall and we can’t know how the Chapter and our membership will be impacted.  Accordingly, as much as the Board would have liked to undertake the full scope of renovation, the decision was made to do only as much work as could be paid for with cash on hand, most of which came from the fundraising efforts of our Centennial Campaign committee.

Work will commence shortly on Phase 1 of the upstairs interior renovation.  This will include new flooring, electrical systems, fixtures, closet space and paint.  It will cover all bedrooms, upstairs hallways, stairway landings, the balcony and back stairs.  Phase 2, to be done at a later date when funds are available, will include custom built-in bedroom furniture to maximize floor space and, depending on funds raised, may include the proposed renovation of the exterior. Our summer newsletter will have more on this work, including before and after photos.

Many thanks to all the Centennial Campaign donors for their support, and special thanks to those donors who accelerated their planned contributions.  Your efforts ensured we can complete a very important piece of the necessary work. For those of you who haven’t heard about the Centennial Campaign that kicked off during the Centennial Celebration, keep reading!

Centennial Capital Campaign Kicks Off
by Karen Farabee, Campaign Co-Chair

As you might imagine, our beloved House is 86 years old and requires a lot of upkeep.  Our dedicated House Board has been diligent in keeping up with a never-ending list of repairs and maintenance, using excess funds available at the end of each year to do that important work.  However, this hasn’t allowed Omega to “get ahead” and have a facility that fully competes with other sororities on campus.  In particular, Kappa finished a multi-million dollar renovation of their entire house just a couple of years ago.  To fill that gap and to celebrate Omega’s Centennial, the Centennial Campaign was created.

The Centennial Celebration, highlighted below, marked the official kick-off for the Centennial Campaign: For Our Next 100 Years.  The campaign is designed to create a legacy for Omega’s future by funding the renovation of all the bedrooms, the exterior of the House and other important décor updates to the Chapter Room and other spaces in the House.  The initial goal of $800,000 was set to fund most of the necessary projects.

To date, thanks to generous Centennial Campaign donations of more than $400,000, added to the House Board’s fundraising balances from the Centennial and from prior years, more than $450,000 “cash on hand” is available to complete Phase 1 of the summer renovation work, which was bid at $370,000.  The bid was adjusted to remove the originally proposed new bedroom furniture.  The existing bedroom furniture will be retained until sufficient funds can be raised.

Obviously, the campaign is on a bit of a “pause” right now, given the economic situation and uncertainty we all face, but we hope to begin the campaign again in early summer so that we can band together as sisters to reach our goal to create our own legacy for the next 100 years.

You’ll be hearing more from us in the coming months but, until then, you can go to Our Omega Legacy to learn all about the campaign, the goals and even see the plans for the bedroom renovation to be done this summer.  Of course, if you’d like to make a donation or a pledge now, you can find all the information you need there.

If you have questions, please contact one of our great Centennial Campaign committee members pictured above (left to right): Jamie Blakey Cornelius, Tricia Land Moose (treasurer), Charlotte Plemmons Warren (co-chair) or Karen McComb Farabee (co-chair), by emailing Karen at kmfarabee@gmail.com.

Omega’s Centennial Celebration Weekend
by Renee Tucei, Centennial Event Chair

How lucky we were to have had this special weekend at the end of February!  The timing couldn’t have been better given everything that has followed.  Those of us who were able to attend have some wonderful memories to sustain us and for those who were unable to attend – you were missed.

We kicked off the weekend with a Cocktail Party on Friday evening at the AT&T Center in Austin, just across University Avenue from the House.  Over 300 sisters (and a few husbands) attended and we all enjoyed catching up with old friends.

The room featured an outdoor terrace with a lovely view of the Tower and guests were given commemorative mugs and koozies as gifts.

Saturday’s Brunch at the House was attended by over 400 Omegas in a come-and-go fashion.  Gabby and the kitchen staff prepared a delicious buffet that included Mrs. Erwin’s Puffy Egg Casserole and the infamous Pink Cake.

The Chapter surprised everyone with an amazing balloon installation with the numbers “100” in front of the House.

After eating, sisters of all ages enjoyed walking through the House and looking through old scrapbooks and composite photos.

An Omega cookbook, compiled from favorite recipes that many of you had sent in, was given out to Brunch attendees.

February 28th was designated by Alpha Phi International as its first-ever Day of Service.  Not wanting to miss participating, Omega hosted a Blood Drive with two blood collection vehicles outside the House during the Brunch.

Our final event of the weekend was Saturday evening’s Celebration Dinner, attended by 300 sisters at the AT&T Center.

The evening included proclamations from the Texas Governor, Texas Legislature and Alpha Phi International, a slide show featuring over 800 photographs sent in by alumnae showcasing special memories of their time at the Chapter, and a mirror wall photo booth.  The evening concluded with a Loving Cup ceremony led by Alpha Phi International Executive Board member (and Omega alum) Stacey Thulin Daniel.  Wine glasses etched with the Centennial logo were at each place setting and were used for a final celebratory toast.

The weekend’s events were attended by sisters from 29 states, the District of Columbia and even a sister who came from Germany.  The dinner included 70 years of Omega history in the room – sisters from graduating classes as early as 1952 to current collegians who will graduate in 2023.

A special thank you goes out to the Centennial Committee for two years’ of hard work – it was well worth it as we came together and made new memories we will all cherish for years to come!

Keep a Piece of the Centennial with You

If you were not able to attend (or even if you did!) and would like any of the commemorative items we passed out, we do have a few left for purchase.  These are not available on our website, so please send an email to:  utalphaphihcb@gmail.com.  Please include the items you’d like, quantity, address where you’d like the items to be sent and your contact information.  Someone will call you to get credit card information.  Prices (excluding sales tax and shipping) are as follows:
Coffee Mugs:  $5 each
Koozies:  $3 each
Cookbooks:  $10 each

            Stemless Wine Glasses:  $10 each, or 3 for $25
We also have an extremely limited quantity of pewter ornaments featuring the Aɸ symbol depicted in the wrought iron balcony railing over the Big Room.  These are priced at $25 each (also excluding sales tax and shipping).

And, we continue to have our T-shirts and hand-blown glass ornaments (one of the House and one showcasing the Centennial logo) for sale on our website:  https://texasalphaphialum.com/shop/

In closing, we would like to share this beautiful photo of our oldest Omega alum, Eugenia Worley Schoch (pledge class of 1938), who at 99 years young, was unable to join our Centennial Celebration in person but wanted us to know she joined us in spirit from her home in Austin.

All of us on the House Board are thinking of our sisters during this difficult time.  Please take care and stay safe.  AOE

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