August 27, 2015

Alumnae Perspective: A Lifetime of Watchcare

August has always been one of my favorite months – the start of every school year perpetually reminds me of the amazing feeling of reconnecting with sisters. Whether it is reuniting on campus after a long summer, seeing a sister at an alumnae event or simply meeting a sister for dinner, we all can vividly remember a time when we’d literally counted down the month, days, weeks and minutes until we could fall into a hug with an amazing sister from whom we’d been separated entirely too long. 

The shepherding of these precious relationships is a cornerstone of our Watchcare values. As both collegiate and alumnae, we use words like loyalty, support and mutual growth to emphasize our lifelong commitment to safeguard each other from harm. In taking and renewing our membership vows, we take seriously our responsibility to watch out for one another – understanding this responsibility isn’t “just for four years,” but in fact extends “for a lifetime”

No matter how one phrases it, such a promise means simply this: I’ve got your back, and nearly a quarter of a million of other human beings on this planet do too. This everlasting bond means that the relationships you form through Alpha Phi will be some of the greatest and strongest of your lifetime. Even after graduation, your sisters will celebrate you during life’s victories, applauding each as if they were bigger than the last. Your sisters will walk with you, holding you up during the most difficult of moments. These women will be your confidants and your protectors, they will support and challenge you, and they will change your life for the better in immeasurable ways. 

I am living proof of the amazing power of these relationships. On March 1, 2014, my family’s home was severely damaged in a house fire, and my then four-and-a-half year old daughter Ainsley lost nearly all of her clothing, beloved stuffed animals and toys. Within 12 hours of the news reaching my Alpha Phi network, dozens of collegiate and alumnae sisters mobilized into action from every corner of the country. 

Local sisters brought dinner, toys and took Ainsley out to provide her a much needed distraction. Out of state sisters called local wine stores until they found one that would deliver my favorite brand to our hotel, and sent gift cards to local stores. The women of the Delta Mu chapter at Purdue University brought Ainsley a huge Alpha Phi bear with which she could cuddle. Another out of state sister spent seven hours scrolling through my Facebook photos to find a picture of Ainsley’s favorite stuffed horse she had lost, and for which we had no replacement information. This sister remembered that she had seen a picture of this horse nearly three years ago, located the picture, and she and her husband were able to zoom in on the manufacturer. Together with five other sisters, they sent an overnight delivery of this exact horse to our hotel. I will never be able to adequately describe in words how grateful I am to them for an amazing act of love during one of the darkest moments of my life. 

But perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that, contrary to what you might expect, none of these women described here are sisters I knew in college, or even met shortly after college. These are all women I met more than a decade after graduating, and whom I see only once every few years. And yet, when I was in need, they were the first to stand beside me. When I talk about the power of Watchcare – this is what I mean. We have joined a group of women who – regardless of how long they’ve known you – have your back. Today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. 

As you settle into your fall routine, I challenge you to think about how we as individuals are Alpha Phi’s most powerful Watchcare tools. Our ability to care for and to protect one another extends far beyond whether or not we have excellent risk management practices or responsible social media policies – the greatest acts of Watchcare happen with the seemingly smallest of actions. From helping a sister study or taking a new member to dinner in college to babysitting for a sister’s kids or sending a sister a simple “thinking of you” note when you’re an alumna. Gestures like these matter, as they actively demonstrate our commitment to one another. Reach out to your sisters, both new and old, and ask how you can have their back. You will never know what a difference it can make.

Devon Hensel (Gamma Nu-Miami University) is a Collegiate Chapter Manager. 

No comments: