Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
Again this year at Founder's Day functions, Beta Sigma Phis will recall the early members of the sorority, in the Founder's Day Pledge.
WHAT MUST IT HAVE BEEN LIKE in 1931 when Beta Sigma Phi was just beginning? Picture yourself considering membership in an organization which had not yet proved itself.
The United States was in the middle of a great depression when the first chapter was founded at Abilene, Kansas. The women invited to membership were young working women, to whom the membership fee must have seemed very dear -- in most cases it was a whole month's salary!
The first members gave to the organization a firm foundation of courage, which thousands of Beta Sigma Phis since have found an inspiration in their lives, as one of the virtues symbolized in the rays of the torch.
It took courage to spend a month's salary on something which did not represent material value. And only young women willing to take a chance for something which, if successful, would be a great influence for good in their lives, would take the risk. Businesses were failing every day. What assurance was there that an organization for women which offered only intangible benefits would succeed? It was taking a chance.
The courage of the first members in Abilene took hold in the sorority, and in the months and years which followed, individuals and chapters established the traditions which have become so much a part of Beta Sigma Phi, welcoming and experimenting with new ideas.
An organization is not accepted overnight. Rather, the individual members must work hard and through their example prove that it is worthy of acceptance. This our first members did.
Imagine being the first chapter to take the Exemplar Degree. Imagine being the first city to hostess a convention. Imagine being the member who established the first chapter in another country. Someone met the challenge of these "firsts," going without a precedent, and managing very well.
In the early days THE TORCH was a small magazine with little room for suggestions for chapter activities. So the members originated their own ideas, expressing their spirit of youth and wholesomeness in activities which still today are not surpassed in imagination and appropriateness.
Rushing in the first days of the sorority -- except for enthusiasm -- was hardly similar to what it is today. In those days, after they had found others suitable for membership, the members could not tell the story of Beta Sigma Phi as we know it. It was not worldwide, you were not likely to find a chapter in a new town to which you might move, there was not the enticement of conventions, there were not the reassured traditions which give stability to an organization.
But there was promise of these things, and the early members clung to their determination that Beta Sigma Phi was worthy of growth and influence. It must have been that determination, as least in part, which attracted young women of character to the sorority.
"We wanted it to grow," a charter member explained, "and our enthusiasm seemed to spread to new pledges. Many of the things connected with sorority took greater effort in those days, but those early experiences are priceless to us."
And priceless they are to the members who have since become a part of the sorority, inheriting an organization built by young women with faith in an ideal, and the courage to bring it to reality.