The History of the Lawrence, Kansas, Alumnae Club
The Lawrence, Kansas, alumnae club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 with a brunch and reflection on the club's history. The club was chartered by Headquarters in 1915, but Pi Beta Phi alumnae had been meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, much earlier than 1915. The Kansas Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi was established in 1873 at the University of Kansas as the first sorority on campus. There are records of Pi Phis as far back as 1895, which was the first year that The Arrow was published in Lawrence, Kansas, by the Kansas Alphas. There was a strong desire among Pi Phis to continue their sisterhood after their college experience had ended.
Pi Phi's from Lawrence rode the train for days to attend early conventions. They gathered to socialize and to support their sorority and their universities, and to continue on with the traditions of Pi Beta Phi. In the early days, dues were just a few cents. Once Pi Phi established the Settlement School in Tennessee and Arrowmont, the Lawrence alumnae club began supporting these efforts with an annual Arrowcraft sale and by purchasing magazines through the Pi Beta Phi Magazine agency.
For as long as records date back, the club has maintained around 50-70 members. Members live in and around the Kansas area. While the majority of members are Kansas Alphas or Kansas Betas, the club has had members from colleges in New York, Idaho, Iowa, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, D.C., California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. The club typically holds 6-7 formal meetings each year, including celebrating Founders' Day each April. Members have participated in social events including Cookie Shines and Pink Parties, Beau and Arrow Parties and wine tastings with significant others, lunches and happy hours and cultural field trips. The Lawrence Alumnae club also has an active book club that meets 4-5 times a year for rousing discussions about interesting and timely books.
Club members have served on AAC and House Corp boards, as regional and international officers and on the Foundation board. They have attended many conventions and leadership conferences as well. In 1985, the club sponsored the Legacy Lunch at the Kansas City Convention. According to the records, 125 Pi Phi women were in attendance at the lunch and Headquarters provided $200 towards the cost of food.
The club established an endowed scholarship in 1997 through the University of Kansas that recognizes junior or senior women from Kansas Alpha each year for the academic excellence and involvement in the sorority. Club members have written countless RIFs and mentored collegians and young alumnae. The club also belongs to the local panhellenic association and partners with other sororities to raise funds each year to help provide scholarships to a high school female from each of the high schools in Lawrence, Kansas.
In February 2017, the club joined with the Greater Kansas City Alumnae Club and the Kansas Alpha Chapter to perform an alumna Initiation. This was a magical experience for all and a fitting way for the club to celebrate 150 years of Pi Beta Phi. Working alongside the Kansas Alpha executive board was so much fun, and being a big part of initiation again brought each member back to her own initiation.
Most of all, club members have exhibited the spirit of true friendship and have supported one another through the good times and bad, through marriages and divorces, births and deaths, job promotions and career changes, and highs and lows through lively meetings, shared philanthropy, love of college, good food and lots of wine.
The club has supported many community organizations and Pi Beta Phi causes throughout the years. Members have decorated trees and wreaths for The Shelter Inc., an organization that provides emergency shelter and foster care for children. The club has sponsored events for the Lawrence Library Foundation and its summer reading program. The club has given Pi Phi Local Impact Grants to Douglas County CASA and the Ballard Center (community organizations that serve youth in the community). Members donate annually to the Pi Beta Phi Foundation Literacy Fund, and have adopted countless families at the holidays and donated thousands of books to local organizations.