|Below are inspiring words from the Founder of our sorority. These words have given members new insight into the principles of Beta Sigma Phi and their own part in the international organization. The excerpts below, taken from his Founder's Day messages, collectively form an interesting historical review of the sorority, and set forth the ideals that carried it from country to country in a healthy growth.
Bring before your mind's eye for one moment the picture of 12,000 people, such as you have seen at a stadium, a race track, a great civic or national gathering, and you will be able to get closer as I have tried to do to the numerical marvel of Beta Sigma Phi.
But such a picture does not give us Beta Sigma Phi. No mere aggregate of 12,000 persons or even 12,000 young women, can give us the true picture of Beta Sigma Phi. One member can give us a true picture of all that is Beta Sigma Phi, and does most often. Twelve can do it. So can 12,000. To the members its tangible structure in which we duly rejoice is but the outward effect and natural form of its intangible purpose.
Today it is apt to be a literal fact that wherever you go you will find a chapter to which you may belong, and next year and every succeeding year this will become more evident . . . . Wherever there is a service to render, a lonely heart to befriend, a lovely ideal to embrace -- there, as a Beta Sigma Phi, you will belong.
From the first charter members in Abilene, Kansas and Vinita, Oklahoma to the charter members in the newest chapter in Canada, for example, there was first the faith that such a movement as Beta Sigma Phi could be a reality, and now the precious faith in the member herself -- faith that, in addition to all evidences we present to her of a successful 8-year-old organization, she can personally find reality in and through its ideals.
Our one thousandth active chapter became a reality in March! When Edythe Burcham concluded the installation ceremony at Brattleboro, Vermont, she welcomed to Beta Sigma Phi our one thousandth active chapter.
Back to the days when there were less than 1,000 members, to say nothing of 1,000 chapters, go our thoughts today to honor the members of the International Field Staff of Beta Sigma Phi. They have never sought publicity; they have worked most of the time as strangers in cities strange to them; they have been enthusiasts of a movement in which they sincerely believe.
Whatever the dark causes or the consequences of this war, I know that you, our members, through service and self-sacrifice, will find in it a means of rising to higher levels of human understanding and courageous character.
In order to achieve this broader concept as an organization, we need to understand each other; we need to put our dreams together and total them; we need to strengthen the weak portions of our present structure.
With this end in view, will each of you write me a personal letter which I may share with the whole staff at Headquarters? We need the inspiration of such communication. We need to know from your viewpoint as a member where you think we have succeeded, and we need to know from your viewpoint where we have failed. We need to know how much Beta Sigma Phi means and how much it can be made to mean in the future.
You will be thinking . . . of tomorrow -- tomorrow in terms of your own life and your organization.
Because you have been so successful in the past, you will meet the challenge of the future with Courage, knowing that in perfecting your own concept of living you will have made that contribution to all of society in the world.
You will have the Vision to see and understand the changes which growth may bring without sacrificing the integrity of what you have already built upon.
There will be Humility in your viewpoint in relationship to all people and all activities -- the ability to lose yourselves in something that may be bigger than all of us.
Loyalty is another quality in life for you -- Loyalty to an ideal whether it be a nation or a principle; Loyalty to yourselves, to that fineness in you which it has been my privilege to know.
And there will be Fellowship within and without this great organization, comradeship in its finest sense with those men and women who will be returning from the Armed Forces. They will have your understanding and your assistance in returning themselves to normal living. Your gratitude will be expressed to them in a very helpful and practical way.
Since the last anniversary, we have been richly blessed, as you know, by the installation of our first chapter in London, England. This great accomplishment has lifted our spirits since the Torch is now lighted and is burning brightly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.
The war emergency pulled all our lives out of the regular channels -- organizations as well as individuals. In reconverting to peace as individuals we should also repatriate our organization. The pre-war structure was so strong that it was of tremendous usefulness to our respective countries.
Let us look at our business meetings to see if they are usually not more than 30 minutes in length. Let us re-examine our individual responsibility to the prescribed program work in spirit as well as in word. And always, let us bring to the traditional activities of Beta Sigma Phi the same enthusiasm and thought which have already made a great organization.
The expression "One World" which gave such a lift to our spirits a few years ago has in the interim become to some almost a gesture of lost hope.
But on the horizon, there are some encouraging signs, evidence that the peoples of the world are praying for the ability to dwell together in peace. . . . In Beta Sigma Phi, the first frontier is to balance our own lives toward greater usefulness, and our next frontier may well be the objective of One World in Friendship.
We are really "grown up" now, since tonight we are celebrating our 21st birthday. . . . I am particularly grateful to you tonight for having established so successfully the International Endowment Fund and for making the International Loan Fund and our Beta Sigma Phi Home realities to come in the not too distant future.
My greatest wish on your 21st anniversary is that Beta Sigma Phi will continue to mean more and more to you personally, that it will serve you well in many ways, and that it may in the future have the benefits of your dreams and highest aspirations.
It seems to me we are growing up, and yet our Beta Sigma Phis in Greece, Austria, the British Isles, and all the other places old in history must feel that we are just beginning.
It is my sincere hope that every meeting, every program, and every project embraced by you this year will be the very best that you can conceive and execute. May this Silver Anniversary year prove to be the finest fraternal experience of your lives!
In the spirit of this hope I have the honor of presenting to you tonight from the Executive Council of Beta Sigma Phi our new honorary degree, the Order of the Rose, to be achieved by active and honorary members of fifteen years standing or more.
We have never included statistics in these messages through the years, but tonight you have a right to know how magnificent have been the accomplishments of your organization in the great Silver Anniversary year:
1. Visitation from Headquarters completed or arranged for 1,700 communities in which there are chapters.
2. Eleven hundred and sixty-one promises for new Silver Anniversary chapters for our Silver Anniversary.
3. Adoption of the Achievement Band with Hearts representing the honors won. Paid up annual fees for life adopted as a great accomplishment by a comparatively young organization.
4. Seventy-five Achievement Awards for outstanding accomplishments by chapters.
5. Establishment of the new degree, the Order of the Rose.
6. Creation of another degree, the Nu Phi Mu Degree of Beta Sigma Phi, bringing our junior and senior organizations closer together.
7. Much of the work completed for additional degrees of Exemplar.
8. Completion of three of the greatest rushing seasons in the 25-year history of Beta Sigma Phi.
9. During the Silver Anniversary year three members have indicated that the International Loan Fund will be a beneficiary in their estates and that this has been provided for in their wills.
May I offer to you tonight warmest congratulations upon these great fraternal victories. They are unmatched anywhere.
Your organization has matured to the point where the emphasis can well come back where it started, to the consciousness of each member and through her example as a fine person reach countless people to whom we can be useful.
Chapters, city councils, area councils and all the various forms of organizational set-up are necessary parts of Beta Sigma Phi, but always they need to examine and re-examine their policies to see that the organization is still doing what it started out to do -- to serve the wishes of the individual member and to provide a perfect climate in which she may grow in stature as a successful person.
There have been many advances in Beta Sigma Phi in the last two years -- the Achievement Band, the new charitable projects locally and internationally. . . . But to each of you personally there is something much more important than all of these good accomplishments. I would remind you of the great respect the free world pays you as a member of Beta Sigma Phi. It is a distinction that you have earned by what you have done and which you richly deserve for what you are.
On this 28th birthday I would like to emphasize the apparent contradiction of Beta Sigma Phi. The sorority was conceived in 1931 as a vehicle through which the friendliest, the loveliest-minded, and the most socially respected women of our world could find highest individual expression, but we nevertheless are formed in groups.
There is a trend in the world today to forget the individual. . . . We should vigorously resist this trend in our personal lives. I hope that you will continue, with the principle upon which we were founded, to emphasize the importance of your own opinions in all you do in and out of Beta Sigma Phi.
The chapters are intended to be the background for the individual growth of each Beta Sigma Phi in them, and the success of the chapter depends upon its ability to provide a suitable climate for the individual personal development of its members.
Each anniversary allows us to begin again, but this occasion differs from all the others in the fact that we are beginning a new decade which seems to promise more peaceful adventure than any others.
As we enter this new era, will you take a moment to declare to yourself what Beta Sigma Phi means to you? . . . . Realize the strength of your membership, your chapter, your organization. Then use that strength. Open the way even more widely for your newer members to give Beta Sigma Phi the benefits of their energy and enthusiasm. Invite our members of long standing to contribute to our success from their rich background of experience.
The importance of an anniversary is to remind us of great moments we shared, and to look forward to what is to come . . . to begin again!