Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
A message to small chapters by Ora Capelli, California Xi Delta Kappa, San Francisco
Recently, at one of our city-wide socials, several Beta Sigma Phis were discussing a very vital question: "What makes a chapter strong?"
A few large chapters were represented at that table, and one member offered, "Our chapter is strong because we have such a large treasury. We don't have to worry about ways and means projects, and we don't lose members because we have so much fun. Our parties are always exceptional because our treasury can absorb the expense."
Another comment went like this: "We have a large membership, so we always have a big attendance at our meetings. No one has to work too hard, and yet we make a wonderful showing on our Yardstick at the end of the year."
Again, at a state-wide function, I heard remarks on the same subject, but this time from the viewpoint of the smaller chapters. They conveyed the impression that the small chapter shouldn't be expected to participate in contests, and be expected to donate to various funds and causes like their larger sister-chapters; they felt competition is too great and the advantages too one-sided.
Is the smaller group at a disadvantage? One person told me that a chapter which has less than twelve members should affiliate with another, thereby making one strong chapter where there were two weak ones. I do not believe any of this reasoning is justified.
One of the goals of most chapters is to maintain a fairly large membership, and this is as it should be. However, there are many, many small chapters in Beta Sigma Phi which seem to remain at the small level of membership, and I am directing this message to them.
To insure the success of either a large or a small chapter, there is one basic need: All members must function in unison or else the chapter will disintegrate. Admittedly, the larger chapters have much to offer, and if they function at a high level, there is a great deal that can be accomplished. But I have found that the small chapter has many compensations to balance the scale. Why, I ask myself, do these small chapters wait till they are full-grown before they take an active part in the bigger goals?
It is often easier for a smaller group to work as a unit, easier for each member to give her considered opinion at a meeting. Although many ideas are brought forth in a larger group, there are also diverse opinions which sometimes cause friction and even confusion. My own chapter is small, consisting of only twelve members, and yet ours may favorably compare with the large chapters of Beta Sigma Phi. The secret of our success is that in spite of the heavier responsibilities imposed upon each member, the chapter functions as a harmonious whole, rather than as a group of individuals. There is no chance for the introvert to remain in the background.
The small group usually has a warmth of feeling not always felt in a very large group. An individual needs recognition as much as she needs mental food; and the small group affords the individual the freedom of achievement without losing the warmth of friendship and personal comradeship.
As in everything else, a chapter is only as strong as its weakest link. A weak ink in a small chapter is readily noticed. At the first dissenting note, that link can be strengthened and fortified, whereas in a larger chapter, the officers might not be aware of such weakness for some time.
In a small group, if but a few members bring enthusiasm and eagerness to the meeting, it doesn't take long before the others are imbued with the same fervor. In the larger groups, however, there may not be enough spark to ignite the whole chapter.
For you members of a small chapter, I am happy to say that our little chapter has always cooperated as a unit, doing all things in a well-ordered, concentrated effort, and that is why it is outstanding, even though we have had only twelve to fifteen members through the years. We have done more than our share in our city council functions. Our treasury is as large as that of most chapters, sometimes larger; but during those temporary times when it reaches a low ebb, the members feel that the love and service we render in lieu of a check more than offset our monetary lack.
Many hands make light work, but even a few hands prompted by affection for each other, plus willing service, can perform seeming miracles. Our cultural programs are excellent, and each member comes away from the meetings with a feeling that she has indeed learned something and has also contributed her share.
The size of your chapter is of secondary importance. The really important thing is that it be a congenial, loyal group, eager to do much, willing to give much. By appreciating those around us, by realizing how much we can share with each other, we inevitably grow in knowledge and in love. The secret of success is to be in tune with each other-to know that if you cannot find happiness where you are, you shall surely miss it; to know that if your life is to be good you must do something to make it good.