The History of the Philadelphia-Main Line, Pennsylvania Alumnae Club
Chartered in 1902, the Philadelphia Alumnae Club was the third club to be formed, following Baltimore, Maryland in 1900 and Athens, Ohio in 1901. The club was started with the assistance of founder Jennie Horne Turnbull. For decades it grew much as the city of Philadelphia grew, with a steady migration to the suburbs after WWII. Without a collegiate chapter in the city, and with most members of the club residing in the suburbs, the old charter was amended 60 years later to read "Philadelphia-Main Line Alumnae Club" in 1962. With the addition of even more members from the Delaware County Club in the late 1980s, it were a very active group with a large membership, even without a chapter nearby.
The club was a very sociable group whose members had a lot of fun, but when it came to raising money for Arrowmont® and selling Arrowcraft items, work continued all year long. Summer workshops were held in members' basements to create additional crafts to sell; money for these items went toward club needs, while all profits from Arrrowcraft went directly to the Arrowcraft Shop. For decades, a large luncheon was held in the fall, with all of the cooking, serving and clean up done by members. Others manned the sales of a vast array of beautiful table and bed linens, clothing, baby items and wooden toys as well as the club’s own creations. It was a full-time job for the women who took on this chairmanship each year, and they won many awards for their efforts, including the International Arrowcraft Sales Award, Top Ten Club awards and First in Arrowcraft Donations Award, among many others.
When the Fraternity decided to end club sales of Arrowcraft, the club’s focus shifted to exploring options with local charities. The club began a partnership with The Melmark Home, a facility for children with special needs. Members worked with the children and raised funds for the home. In the early 1980s, the club held the first fundraising event to enable a chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation to locate in Philadelphia; musical entertainment, food and hundreds of flowers helped raise the seed money for the Foundation's city location. Its needs have been met in part for the last three decades by a huge Phillies Night with Pi Phis and friends getting together at the stadium for dinner and baseball. The ALS Association has benefitted from Pi Phis walking or sponsoring participants in the ALS Walk each year. Most recently, the club has been very active in two endeavors to promote reading in inner-city schools: First Book® Philadelphia, which supplies free books to children, and Reach Out and Read-CHOP, a reading program by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Awards and Club Recognition
The Main Line Club has also been extremely active in Pi Phi on regional and national levels, with many of the club’s members serving as Province Presidents and Province Coordinators over the years. Several members have served on the national level on Grand Council, Directors of Membership and Chapter House Corporations. Individual awards have been won numerous times, with both the Evelyn Peters Kyle and Emma Harper Turner Province Awards going to many of the club’s members. Always active on the Panhellenic Council, the Panhellenic Award was recently won by one of the club’s youngest members.
The biggest and best changes came to the club when they finally gained an active chapter at Villanova University. Members served on Alumnae Advisory Committees and Chapter House Corporations. Members still serve in this capacity at Villanova and have the joy of helping the chapter with their needs as well as including collegians in club meetings, events and programs. The club’s Founders’ Day Dinner and Cookie Shine are exciting indeed, with attendance from more than 100 Pi Phis of all ages!
With a lavish tea party every year for the club’s many Golden Arrows, dinner meetings once a month, an Out-to-Lunch Bunch, Halo Happenings, a Fall Fest and the many fundraisers for the club’s designated charities, even the newest initiates at Villanova have a good idea of all that is to come after they graduate. In turn, members have the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful young women who are carrying on the traditions and the spirit of Pi Beta Phi.