The History of the San Juan, Colorado, Alumnae Club
In 1999, Colorado Alpha Lisa Gamel Scott moved to Pagosa Springs and, having been very involved in other alumnae clubs, wanted to join one in her new town. She quickly discovered there was no alumnae club in the small community, so she requested the relevant ZIP codes from Pi Phi Headquarters. She then called the handful of members who lived in town and invited them to a meeting to discuss forming a local pocket. Everyone she contacted was happy to convene and all were excited about the opportunity. Shortly after that meeting, the club’s Pi Beta Phi alumnae club was chartered. Members chose the name “San Juan” because they live in the San Juan Mountains, and they wanted membership to include neighboring towns within the region.
Immediately, women of various ages from chapters all over the country (and some who had never before belonged to an alumnae club) came together. This club has always focused on friendship – and members also enjoy participating in national Pi Beta Phi philanthropic activities.
Membership has ranged from 10 to 19 members, depending on the year and the participation of women from other towns. The small community is 60 miles from the nearest large town, which is why it doesn't see much participation outside of Pagosa Springs. The club is lucky to have a few loyal members from Durango, the club’s nearest “big city” located 60 miles away.
The San Juan Alumnae Club's annual gatherings are centered around national Pi Phi events like Founders’ Day. The club also participates in the celebration of the club’s Golden Arrows, Cookie Shines and Fraternity Days of Service. The club also creates other reasons to get together, such as the club’s annual Christmas angel gift exchange during the holidays, a Beaux and Arrows event that includes spouses, Chinese New Year parties, July Fourth/Canada Day celebrations and an escape room adventure. While members regularly talk about Fraternity news and execute the business of the club, the club’s time together is mostly spent in friendship, fun and sisterhood — always with delicious food and much laughter. Members especially cherish the fact the club’s group is a loving, supportive place of solace and support as the club’s members have lost spouses and Pi Phi sisters to illness and old age.
Over the years, several of the club’s members have moved away, yet the club is always successful in recruiting new Pi Phis to Pagosa Springs to join the group. Four of the club’s 10 charter members still are actively involved. The club is small, but the members are very, very special to each other. As they like to say, they are “friends and leaders for life.”
In 2006, the club organized and hosted the first-ever luncheon for all Panhellenic sorority women in the club’s area. This event has become so popular that it is now a well-regarded annual gathering. Carole Howard was the emcee from the beginning, and Lisa Scott was the speaker several times, discussing such topics as changes in sorority recruitment, the growing importance of philanthropies among college sororities and alumnae clubs and the issue of hazing on college campuses. The club has maintained the more than 100 names on the club’s Panhellenic list and publicized and organized the luncheons. After eight years, they announced they were retiring from the organizational role and passing the baton to other sorority ladies for future events. The luncheons organized from 2014 on by the new committee have been a great success as well.
The club has participated in every Fraternity Day of Service since its inception in 2006. Efforts have included events at the Pagosa Springs Public Library, work parties to decorate bookplates for children’s books, volunteering at the Pagosa Springs Elementary School book fair and donating books and reading to preschoolers at the local Head Start Center.
At the club’s annual Christmas angel exchange luncheons, members bring canned and packaged goods to contribute to local holiday food drives for the needy in Pagosa Springs.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the club in March 2010, members purchased a wireless microphone system for the local Pagosa Springs Public Librar, to be used in its Lifelong Learning Lectures series and other educational and literacy programs.
Awards and Club Recognition
- Alumnae Club Spirit Award (2014, 2013)
- Excellence in Communications (2013)
- Excellence in Communications Award - Regional (2011)
- Colorado Alpha Lisa Gamel Scott, Pi Beta Phi Foundation Trustee, also serving as treasurer and president, 2003–09, 2013–present; Chairman of Gatlinburg Study Committee, 2009–10; Pi Beta Phi Fraternity Housing Corporation member and president, 2011–present
- Oregon Beta Carole Munroe Howard, 2004 Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award for distinguished alumnae achievement; Foundation-sponsored keynote address at the 2005 Convention titled, “Majoring in the Rest of Your Life" and Club's nominee in 2010 for the Evelyn Peters Kyle Angel Award for Organization Service
- Pennsylvania Beta Lynn Devaul Constan, Starred as an archer and spokesperson in the Pi Beta Phi Foundation video that debuted at the 2009 Convention
- Iowa Gamma Ann Struble Norris, Member Arrowmont Board of Governors 1992–2000