The Omega House Corporation Board hopes this finds you and your families safe and healthy.
The Omega Chapter continues to grow and remains strong. With the shift to a mostly virtual new member program, the Alpha Phi Executive Office recommended that all initiations be conducted virtually as well. This allowed us the opportunity to invite alumni to join, which was very special. On Sunday, October 18, joined by alumni and active members, 85 new members and 6 alumni were initiated into our sisterhood.
Fall Events at the Chapter by Brit Sauer, Omega Chapter Advisor
The Chapter has been working very hard this semester to keep engagement high while putting health and safety first. Our new member program was conducted mostly on a virtual platform. The girls met on Zoom weekly for six weeks to learn all about being an Alpha Phi and spent time in small groups getting to know one another doing things such as drive-in movies, necklace making, getting donuts and coffee, stopping by the house for a P Terry’s truck, and hiking Mount Bonnell.
We were able to conduct small group big/little sister reveals in front of the house over the course of a few days, so that the new members could meet their big sisters in person.
Sisterhood events have also been a mix of virtual and in-person small group activities. The girls have been having virtual watch parties of The Bachelorette, cooking and baking events on Zoom, succulent building on the south lawn of the Texas Tower, and paddle boarding on Lady Bird lake. The social committee has been able to put together a date dash to Top Golf in north Austin and a Hay Phiver event at Stubbs with dinner and live music. While the events have not been standard date events, the girls have greatly enjoyed the socially distant opportunities to see their sisters. As the chapter advisor, I am thankful for Austin venues being able to operate safe events for our members.
Lastly, I want to highlight our philanthropy team. While not being able to host the annual Red Dress Gala has been devastating to the committee, they have been working extremely hard to provide other opportunities to give back to the community and to the Alpha Phi Foundation. The Chapter donated over 360 cans of food to the Central Texas Food Drive – demand has increased 5 times this fall compared to previous years. Additionally, the Chapter partnered with We Are Blood to host a blood drive at the House, and with the Neighborhood Longhorn Program to virtually mentor over 35 kids in the Austin area.
The Chapter also hosted a “Sink A Phi” event benefitting the Alpha Phi Foundation that included a dunk tank, where members paid to dunk Exec officers, and a coffee bar.
This semester has been anything but ordinary, but I am beyond proud of the Omega officers and members for their continued enthusiasm and sisterhood during these trying times.
How the House is Functioning during the Pandemic by Renee Nichols Tucei, Omega HCB President
The safety of our House members and staff remains the House Board’s primary objective. As mentioned in our August newsletter, the House is generally following UT protocols and guidance provided by Alpha Phi International in making the House safe and secure during this pandemic. The “new normal” includes mask requirements in the downstairs common areas, no non-resident members allowed in the House, dining room tables spread out into the Big Room, meals served in disposable containers vs. buffet style and ensuring the bedrooms & bathrooms reflect social distancing guidelines wherever possible. House cleaning processes are more frequent, hand sanitizer is available wherever you look, and disinfectant spray is in abundant supply. Processes and protocols have evolved and will continue to evolve as needed.
Thanks to these well-established safety protocols and the discipline the girls have demonstrated in complying with them, we have been very fortunate to have just a few COVID-19 cases among the House girls to date. All girls who tested positive went home for their isolation periods and none experienced serious symptoms. It has been a team effort between the Chapter, the House Director and the House Board to be flexible where needed, to maintain a positive attitude and to have a good sense of humor. The House will close for Winter Break just before Thanksgiving in line with the University’s schedule.
For now, the House is beautifully decorated for the season.
Capital Campaign Update by Karen McComb Farabee, Capital Campaign Co-Chair
Thanks to the support of over 120 sisters, the Centennial Campaign has received more than $500,000 in cash gifts. These generous gifts allowed for the complete renovation of the bedrooms of the House as we shared in the last newsletter. An additional $220,000 has been pledged in future gifts over the next four years.
The second phase of the Centennial Campaign kicked off with a campaign brochure mailed to more than 2,200 Omega sisters at the end of September. The focus of Phase 2 is to fund the renovation of the Entry Garden, now set for Summer 2021. So far, more than 50 sisters have donated a bit more than $21,000, leaving us about $79,000 away from our $100,000 Phase 2 goal.
When we reach our overall campaign goal of $820,000 in donations and pledges there will be enough funds available to complete the exterior renovation and have funds available to pay for some new bedroom furniture for the newly renovated rooms.
The campaign ends December 31, so there is still plenty of time to make a pledge or a donation in honor of Omega’s 100th year as a Chapter. Please visit the campaign website at OurOmegaLegacy.com to learn how to donate and to see the names of our very generous sisters who have already made their commitment to Omega’s Next 100 Years!
Centennial Ornaments and Cookbooks Still Available!
A limited quantity of the special ornaments of the Chapter House at 2005 University are still available. Get yours now before they sell out! Each ornament measures 3⅞” wide by 2¾“ high by 2½” deep and has been individually hand-blown and hand-painted in Poland as part of a week-long production process. Specially made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Omega chapter in 2020, this piece is sure to be treasured by all Omega Alpha Phis! Each ornament comes with a gift box.
There are also a final few Centennial Celebration Cookbooks available, which include 119 of Omega’s favorite recipes served over the last 100 years.
As always, we welcome any news or photos you may have to share – any celebrations, reunions, career milestones, etc. We’d love to feature some of these in future newsletters. Please send these, and any comments or questions you may have, to our House Board e-mail address: UtAlphaPhiHCB@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!
In the meantime, please take care and stay safe. Thanks as always for your support of our Chapter. The entire House Board sends you our warmest wishes for the upcoming holiday season.