Elsers Make the Match for Branch and Hillsdale

Arlon and Shirley Elser
Arlon and Shirley Elser
Arlon and Shirley Elser

Arlon and Shirley Elser

Hillsdale County 4-H alumnus Arlon Elser and his wife, Shirley, a Branch County 4-H alumna, provided a capital campaign gift to help establish 4-H endowments in Branch and Hillsdale counties and to grow the Make the Match Campaign match fund.

Arlon serves as vice chair of Whitestone Keep, LLC, and is the former program director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Because he is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation retiree, the Elsers’ initial gift qualified for an employer match of 1:2, thus tripling the impact of their charitable gift.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

With the WKKF match, the Elsers’ gift helped to jump start county endowment campaigns in both Branch and Hillsdale counties.

General 4-H county endowment funds help provide annual support for 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees, purchase of or development of new program and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H programs.

Because their gift funded general 4-H county endowment funds, their contribution will be matched again 1:1 by the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment match fund, thus doubling its impact for Branch and Hillsdale counties.

Two new endowments established by Ingrid Thacker and Deanna House will not only provide a lasting legacy for their husbands but also support the maintenance and long-term care of Kettunen Center facilities and grounds, and help sustain 4-H educational programs at Kettunen Center. Pictured above are the participants at the 4-H Mentoring Weekend at Kettunen Center July 22-24, 2016.

Kettunen Center, Michigan 4-H’s volunteer and youth development training facility, was fortunate enough to have two new endowment funds created this past year to support the maintenance and long term care of Kettunen Center facilities and its adjacent grounds. Support from these funds can also be used to sustain 4-H educational programs there.

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted – the corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Endowments provide a dependable and perpetual source of funding that, combined with other annual support, assures that 4-H opportunities are always available for youth.

These newly established endowment funds will not only support Kettunen Center in perpetuity, but will also serve as permanent memorials.

The Francis H. and Ingrid E. Thacker Endowment for Kettunen Center was created in memory of Francis Thacker by his wife, Ingrid Thacker, in appreciation for the positive influence of 4-H in Francis’ life.
“4-H was really the beginning of his life,” Ingrid Thacker said. “He was able to spend time with his brother. Those years really played a big role in their lives. It is really a good thing for kids to go through 4-H.”

Francis was a 4-H member and took great pride in his 4-H achievements. He went on to manage the family farm and was very involved with community affairs. He served as the LeRoy Township supervisor and for 25 years was an Osceola County commissioner. Additionally, he served 26 years on the Lake Osceola Soil Conservation District and over 20 years as a member of the LeRoy Historical Society. He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in LeRoy until his passing in July 2014.

The George E. and Deanna J. House Endowment Fund for Kettunen Center was created in memory of George House by his wife, Deanna House, and their children, Sara and Paul, to recognize their family’s long-term involvement with 4-H as members, volunteers and donors.

“This fund honors George’s belief in 4-H and his long-term service on the board,” Deanna House said. “It was a good way to remember him long-term – it is also a good cause. “

4-H camps and centers like Kettunen Center are fading. They need to have support to keep them up-to-date,” she said.“This way, the funds from the endowment can be used as those in charge feel it’s needed well into the future.”

George and Deanna House both grew up as 4-H members in Illinois and Wisconsin. They went to college in Wisconsin, George at the University of Wisconsin and Deanna at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. After they married and moved to Michigan, they became highly valued Michigan 4-H volunteers, first in Kalamazoo County and then statewide.

George joined the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees in 1979 and served on the board until 2009. In his 30 years as a trustee, he served as president, vice president and treasurer of the board. He believed in the power of dedicated facilities to foster positive youth development. He helped lead the $4.3 million campaign to renovate Kettunen Center, and also helped generate support for the facilities campaign for 4-H Camp Kidwell in Allegan County.

Deanna is well known as a nutrition and healthy foods columnist, author, consultant, speaker and 4-H volunteer. She helped young people see the value in healthy eating and cooking, and helped them develop the skills to do so successfully. When microwave cooking was introduced as a fast way to prepare meals, Deanna helped young people navigate this new technology by co-authoring the 4-H curriculum Microwave Connections.

“4-H shaped my life,” Deanna House said. “We both felt that we should be paying back, and youth are one of the things we believe in. This was a great fit.”

The Houses have been generous annual donors to 4-H for over three decades. In 2006, they also established the Founder’s Fund, an operational endowment for the Michigan 4-H Foundation, which promises to pay dividends of support for 4-H for many years to come.

Harold E. Thomas

Harold E. Thomas

The Calhoun County 4-H Endowment Fund was established with an initial estate gift made to Calhoun County 4-H by Harold E. Thomas.

Thomas was an active Calhoun County 4-H volunteer who started the Legends of 4-H Award and was often seen helping at the Show of Champions. He would also help get people in line at both the Marshall Christmas Parade and the Calhoun County Fair Parade.

Thomas graduated from Marshall High School and served in the U.S. Army. He worked as a machine shop supervisor for the Grand Trunk Railroad for 41 years. An active member of Moose Lodge 676, he earned his degree of fellowship in 1972 and his pilgrim degree of merit in 2011.

Calhoun County 4-H is one of the 31 counties participating in the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign. Gifts to grow the Calhoun County 4-H Endowment Fund will have double the impact with the 1:1 match from the endowment match fund while match funds are available. Additional donations are welcomed to help grow the fund.

Glenn and Cleo Williams have been married for 64 years and Shiawassee County 4-H has played a meaningful role in their lives both before they met and since they married.

In 2013, they honored the role of 4-H in their lives by making a significant gift of grain to the Michigan 4-H Foundation, that when it was sold, established the Shiawassee County 4-H Endowment Fund.

Glenn joined the Fairfield Township 4-H Club at age 10 and remained a member until he was 19. When he and Cleo were married, their wedding reception was hosted by that 4-H club. Cleo had been a 4-H member in Ingham County. Cleo became a volunteer leader of the Fairfield Sewers and Cookers 4-H Community Club, where she remained a volunteer for 23 years.

The couple’s four adult children were all 4-H members and raised on the family farm, a centennial farm started by Glenn’s grandfather 150 years ago. Originally a dairy farm, the farm is predominantly a cash crop farm producing corn, soybeans and wheat today. It was a gift of soybeans that funded the Shiawassee County 4-H Endowment Fund.

“When the administrator in Shiawassee County decided that MSU Extension could be cut, we went to rally to be there to support 4-H,” Glenn said. “It was Cleo’s idea that we do this gift.”

“I just wanted 4-H to continue,” Cleo said.

“4-H is a way to learn how to live life,” Glen added. “You learn responsibility, you have to keep records, you have to feed the animals when they need it, you have to work at something when you could just be lying around on the sofa!”

The recommendation for making their gift as a gift-in-kind using agricultural product came from MSU Extension educator Dennis Stein.

“Farmers produce a product and sometimes they have opportunity to share that product,” Stein said. “A charity can then sell that gift of product to benefit their charity. The time was right for the Williamses to make this gift.”

The Williamses’ gift for Shiawassee County will be doubled by the Michigan 4-H Foundation as part of the statewide county 4-H endowment match campaign. Young people in Shiawassee County will be supported for generations to come by this perpetual gift to support local 4-H programming. Donors interested in making a gift of grain should contact the Michigan 4-H Foundation and consult with their tax and financial advisers to determine if making such a gift makes sense for them.

Annual earnings from the fund’s investment can provide for scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees; the purchase and development of new program and learning materials or any future areas of great need to advance the
Shiawassee County 4-H program.

The Macomb County 4-H Youth Council joined the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign by establishing the Macomb County 4-H Endowment Fund. Pictured above are Macomb County 4-H Youth Council members Mya Brown, Maxwell Williams and Maggie Bohm.

This year the Macomb County 4-H Youth Council joined the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign as a leading contributor and established the Macomb County 4-H Endowment Fund.

The Macomb County 4-H Youth Council is made up of five teens representing the youth voice of 4-H in Macomb County.

“In 2013, five youth came together to become the first youth council in Macomb County. We figured that 4-H is a youth-led organization, so we should have our youth leading the decision making,” said Maggie Bohm, Macomb County 4-H Youth Council president and Macomb County 4-H’er.

“The first year, we focused on giving out scholarships for 4-H Exploration Days and running fundraisers at fair. This year, we had more of a base, so we offered a few more workshops and
revamped our fundraisers,” she said. In previous years, the Macomb County 4-H Youth Council raised money through the annual livestock sale, photo booths and a petting farm held at the county fair.

“Our previous fundraiser was a photo booth with hay bales and a cute country setting, and people would donate money for us to take their photograph. Because of cell phones, though, it wasn’t working out that great, so we started brainstorming new ideas,” Bohm said.

“We noticed the midway and how the vendors don’t open until noon, but most of the 4-H’ers are up and ready at 9 a.m. We thought about how we could meet the exhibitors’ and parents’ needs with a coffee cart full of fruit, coffee and other snacks,” she said.

The coffee cart was one of the successful fund-raising ventures that made the endowment donation possible. Additionally, the youth council decided to use saved money more wisely.

“We had quite a large chunk of money saved up from when the leadership association was running the feeding farm. It was sitting in the bank, not even earning interest, so we decided to put it to better use with the endowment fund,” Bohm said.

“I think the endowment is so important because it’s helping us think about our future. We don’t know what’s happening with government funding and if it’s going to be around for much longer. By setting this money aside, we’re hoping that the interest alone will be able to support 4-H and keep things running,” she said. “That’s the biggest reason we decided to do it.”

Annual earnings from the endowment fund’s investment can provide annual support for current 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H participation fees and youth to attend out-ofcounty learning experiences, the development of new programs and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.

“The endowment is a huge opportunity to have a large amount of money matched,” said Liz Duran, Macomb County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “I brought up the idea of donating to the endowment. The youth council decided together by votes that this would be a wonderful opportunity to secure the financial future of 4-H in Macomb County,” she said.

“I trust in [the foundation’s] decision-making skills to successfully make a profit. We figured out what we spent last year and looked at the interest of the campaign, and it more than covers what we spent in a year programming,” Duran said. “We know that you can’t continue to spend without a source of income. At this point in Macomb County 4-H, the interest from the endowment alone will keep us sustainable,” she said.

“I like to see the kids understand how the endowment works and let them see why it was such a wise decision to invest in,” she added.

“There is no other program like 4-H in the world in terms of youth development. I believe in all higher education and all youth development programs, but now that I’ve worked with 4-H for so long, I clearly see the difference,” she said. “The youth are our future, and it’s important that we provide them with lots of support and opportunity.”

Macomb County is one of 31 counties participating in the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment campaign. Through October 2016, participating counties had received commitments totaling $798,179. (See map for the breakdown by county.) The Make the Match campaign officially launched July 1, 2013, with the benefit of an endowment match pool contributed by gifts from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and individual leadership donors totaling nearly $800,000.

County totals have nearly exceeded that amount. Qualifying county 4-H endowment gifts will be matched until Dec. 31, 2016. The matching funds will be suspended thereafter, unless additional match pool funds are received. The Michigan 4-H Foundation continues to seek funding to grow the match pool to $1 million.

Michigan 4-H Foundation launches county 4-H endowment match campaign

County 4-H programs in Michigan have historically been funded by a partnership between federal, state and county governments, Michigan State University and gifts from private supporters. With increasing reductions in public support, 4-H families, volunteers, clubs, alumni and other friends are coming together to build private support to sustain 4-H in local communities.

Supporters of county 4-H programs can double their personal support for 4-H by donating to the Make the Match Campaign for their county 4-H program. The goal is to raise $1 million in endowment for county 4-H programs in Michigan that will in turn be doubled by a match fund.

The Make the Match Campaign match fund is made possible by grants from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and individual leadership gifts from Gary and Eiko Seevers and the Seevers Family Foundation, Donald and Rebecca Jost, Dale and Sally Stuby, Noel and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, Larry and Julie Chapin, and Lowell and Marilyn Rothert.

Several counties have set goals of raising a minimum of $10,000 locally, which, if successful, will qualify the county 4-H program to receive a 1:1 match from the Michigan 4-H Foundation of every dollar raised to build an endowment to support their county’s 4-H programs.

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted. The corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Professional managers oversee endowment funds, investing the money in stocks, bonds, and other instruments.

Annual earnings from the fund’s investment can provide annual support for current 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees; purchase of or development of new program and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.

Counties currently participating in the match campaign to build new endowments are Chippewa, Eaton, Luce, Mason and Midland.

Counties that already have general endowed funds with the Michigan 4-H Foundation can also use the match campaign to grow existing endowed funds. Clare and Houghton/Keweenaw counties are taking advantage of this opportunity. Both counties established 4-H endowment funds in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and have launched local campaigns to continue to grow their current endowments to make a larger investment for the future.

Kalkaska County also plans to grow the Kalkaska 4-H Youth Development Fund through this match campaign. Their endowment was created in 1987 by the Kalkaska County 4-H Leaders Association with proceeds from a real estate donation from Paul Johnson.
Kent, Osceola and Shiawassee counties have already met the maximum match and will also be receiving match funds.

The match pool has also grown from gifts from Lana Dart, Wayne and Faye Adam, James Mulvany, and W. Conard and Mary Search.

Nearly $500,000 has been committed to support local 4-H endowment funds across the state thanks to the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign, one of the priorities for The Campaign for Michigan 4-H’s Future.

Chippewa County 4-H, one of the now 31 counties participating in the campaign, set an endowment goal of $50,000, the maximum that can be matched by the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

Chippewa County’s 4-H Endowment campaign chairs are James Moore, Chippewa County 4-H volunteer leader and 4-H council chair, and Lindsey Kromemeyer, Chippewa County 4-H teen volunteer with oversight from the Chippewa County 4-H Council.

“With this endowment we would have money to help keep our 4-H program going,” Moore said. “I was a county commissioner for 10 years while I sat on the 4-H council as vice chair. I saw the council give out and take in money that kept 4-H alive.”

Over the past year of the campaign, Chippewa County 4-H has raised nearly $13,000 from 4-H clubs and local businesses who have proved to be strong partners in this endeavor.

“We picked the higher goal. We’re still trying to reach half of our donations from private individuals which may be the hardest part,” Moore said. “We’re trying to get the word out.”

In June last year, the council held the first Burger Bash, a fundraiser for the Chippewa County 4-H Endowment held at the local Elks Lodge.

“We are really looking forward to the Burger Bash again,” said Melanie Greenfield, Chippewa County 4-H program coordinator. “The Silver Spurs 4-H Club is taking leadership this year.”

Additionally, the local Tractor Supply Store has hosted a carnival and been very supportive of 4-H.

“Our TSC store is amazing!” Greenfield said. “They’ve paid for a popcorn machine, cotton candy, etc.!”

In addition, the county has done mailings to garner support. Greenfield feels this has raised the most awareness of the campaign.

“Most of the people buying tickets to the Burger Bash are already 4-H supporters. After the first mailing last year, we received a lot of contacts from others not currently involved with 4-H,” she explained.

“We want to show we are working hard to preserve our future,” Greenfield said. “We have to invest in our youth. 4-H connects kids with positive adults in the community and provides fun, hands-on learning opportunities.”

Annual earnings from the fund’s investment can provide annual support for current 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees, purchase of or development of new program and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.

Additional counties currently participating in the Make the Match campaign are: Allegan, Arenac, Branch, Calhoun, Chippewa, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Houghton/Keweenaw, Ingham, Ionia, Kalkaska, Lapeer, Lenawee, Macomb, Mason, Midland, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oakland, Ottawa, Sanilac, St. Joseph, Washtenaw and Wayne.

Kent, Osceola and Shiawassee counties have already met the maximum match of $50,000.

Donors are “Making the Match” for county 4-H programs

Lois M. Beal has established the Montcalm County 4-H Endowment Fund in memory of her late husband, Victor C. Beal.

“My husband was a county agricultural agent in Montcalm County and started his career as a 4-H agent years ago,” Lois Beal said. “Even as a boy he was in 4-H. He loved it! “I know the extension service is not as strong as it once was and thought that this
fund may be helpful to the county. I’m sure my husband would appreciate it as well.”

Beal began his career with MSU Extension in 1936 as Montcalm County agricultural agent. After 22 years in that role, he became the Montcalm County Extension director in 1958, and then served Montcalm, Ionia and Kent counties as district agricultural agent
from 1962 until he retired in 1964.

While this new endowment fund provides memorial recognition to Victor Beal it also provides perpetual support for the Montcalm County 4-H program. An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted. The corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support.

Professional managers oversee endowment funds, investing the money in stocks, bonds and other instruments.

Annual earnings from the fund’s investment can provide annual support for current 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees, purchase of or development of new program and learning materials,
or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.

Because this gift funded a general 4-H county endowment fund, it will be matched 1:1 by the Make the Match county 4-H endowment match fund, thus doubling its impact for 4-H. Additional donations are welcome to the Montcalm County 4-H Endowment
Fund and will qualify for match funds.

The Make the Match Campaign match fund is made possible by grants from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, and individual leadership gifts from Gary and Eiko Seevers and the Seevers Family Foundation, Donald and Rebecca Jost, Dale and Sally Stuby, Noel and Sandra Clarkson Stuckman, Faye and Wayne Adam, Larry and Julie Chapin, Thomas and Rhonda Coon, and Lowell and Marilyn Rothert.

Additional counties currently participating in the Make the Match campaign to build endowments are Chippewa, Clare, Eaton, Gratiot, Houghton/Keweenaw, Kalkaska, Mason, Midland, Sanilac, St. Joseph and Washtenaw.

Kent, Osceola and Shiawassee counties have already met the maximum match. For more information on how you can help Make the Match for your county 4-H program, visit www.mi4hfdtn.org/countymatch or call the Michigan 4-H Foundation at
(517) 353-6692.

4-H volunteers build endowments in Kent and Osceola counties with planned gifts

Kent County 4-H Youth Endowment
In 2009, Merry and Jerry Malfroid, of Casnovia, launched an endowment campaign to build a fund to provide long-term support for Kent County 4-H and at the same time honor the service and achievements of Margaret and
Richard Bethel in advancing Kent County 4-H and statewide MSU Extension programs.

In the midst of planning for the campaign, Jerry Malfroid was lost to cancer. After a successful campaign led by Merry Malfroid and Maggie and Dick Bethel, the Kent County 4-H Youth Development Fund was fully endowed in 2011. Merry, a long-time Kent County MSU Extension employee, died July 18, 2012. She designated a portion of her estate to grow the Kent County 4-H Youth Development Fund. Because this is an existing county 4-H endowment fund, this estate gift and gifts honoring Merry and others from Kent County also qualify for the 1:1 county 4-H endowment match.

The fund serves not only to honor Jerry and Merry Malfroid’s commitment to Kent County 4-H but also serves as an ongoing tribute to the contributions of all youth and volunteers involved in Kent County 4-H.

Osceola County 4-H Youth Endowment
A charitable gift from the Adrian R.Sengelaub Revocable Trust has established the Osceola County 4-H Youth Endowment Fund.

The fund provides memorial recognition to Adrian Sengelaub and perpetual support for the Osceola County 4-H program. Because  this charitable gift funded a general 4-H county endowment fund, it will be matched 1:1 by the county 4-H endowment match fund, doubling its impact for 4-H.

Sengelaub served 20 years as a 4-H leader and had a zeal for life and helping others. He was also active in St. Philip’s Catholic Church and joined the Knights of Columbus in 1940. In retirement, he volunteered for the Commission on Aging, accumulating over 1,000 hours of service.

A lifetime resident of Richmond Township, Reed City, Mich., Seneglaub died July 18, 2008. He attended Trimmer Elementary School where he graduated eighth grade in 1937. He continued his father’s work as a farmer, carpenter and stone/brick mason. He worked for many farmers in the surrounding area over the years. In addition, he worked as a bus driver for St. Philip’s Catholic School and was also employed by Tubelite (Miller industries) for more than 22 years.

From Vantage, Fall 2015

The Sigma Alpha Gamma Chapter, an agricultural sorority at Michigan State University (MSU), created an endowed 4-H postsecondary scholarship for 4-H’ers who choose to attend MSU.

The Sigma Alpha Gamma Chapter, an agricultural sorority at Michigan State University (MSU), created an endowed 4-H postsecondary scholarship for 4-H’ers who choose to attend MSU.

Sigma Alpha’s duck race is its major fundraiser each year. Sorority members sell rubber ducks and then release the ducks down the Red Cedar River. Pictured above are Sigma Alpha members at “The Rock” on the Michigan State campus.

Sigma Alpha’s duck race is its major fundraiser each year. Sorority members sell rubber ducks and then release the ducks down the Red Cedar River. Pictured above are Sigma Alpha members at “The Rock” on the Michigan State campus.

A new 4-H postsecondary scholarship was created this summer by the Sigma Alpha Gamma Chapter at Michigan State University.

Sigma Alpha is a professional agricultural sorority that promotes scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship. The sorority established the Sigma Alpha Endowment at the Michigan 4-H Foundation to  provide postsecondary scholarships for 4-H members who choose to attend Michigan State University. Sigma Alpha provided an initial gift to establish the fund this summer and will continue to grow the endowment over the next five years.

Rosalyn Brummette, the president of Sigma Alpha and a 4-H member of 15 years, elaborated on what led Sigma Alpha to create an endowment with the 4-H foundation.

“We wanted to create a scholarship for incoming female students with a personal or professional interest in agriculture. After looking at our options, the Michigan 4-H Foundation posed the best long-term decision. Also, having had many of our members participate in the organization, we felt a special connection to creating a scholarship with the 4-H foundation,” she said.

Sigma Alpha hosts fund-raising events throughout the year whose proceeds have gone to Heifer International and the East Lansing Haven House, among others. Their main event is their annual duck race in the spring.

“Our sorority’s annual duck race is a philanthropy event that plays on the Gamma chapter’s mascot, the rubber ducky. Our members sell ducks for a couple dollars, and the buyers have the chance of winning prizes. We then send the rubber ducks down the Red Cedar River, with the first few finishers winning a prize,” she said.

The Gamma chapter not only raises money to support their sponsored philanthropy but also hosts events to educate the community on the charities they support.

“The four pillars of Sigma Alpha are scholarship, leadership, fellowship and service. Our sisters strive to exemplify each pillar through the works of the sorority,” Brummette said. Sigma Alpha represents the service pillar by Rosaln said.roparticipating in philanthropy events, which allows members to positively contribute to the community. m

The Gamma chapter also participates in a national service project, Ag in the Classroom, a grass-roots program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its goal is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture. Additionally, each fall the Gamma chapter trick-or-treats for canned goods and donates the collections to a local food shelter.

“Our members are hardworking females who hope to inspire other young women in 4-H to pursue a career in agriculture or continually promote the industry in the community around them,” she said.

Sigma Alpha was founded in 1978 at The Ohio State University by five women who wanted an alternative to the social Greek system. Since that time, Sigma Alpha has become a national organization consisting of more than 80 chapters made up of undergraduate and alumni members. Today, more than 7,000 members have been initiated into Sigma Alpha.