The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

September 19, 2010

Palestine welcomes Beta Sigma Phi members for area convention

PALESTINE — The Beta Sigma Phi Area Convention “Parasols in Palestine” brought about 200 sorority sisters from various parts of Texas to Palestine this weekend.

“We’ve had a good turnout from all over Texas including ladies from Houston, Austin and the Dallas areas,” BSP Area Convention co-chair Candis Wells said Friday night. “The ladies are staying the entire weekend. They’ve got 70 rooms booked at four different hotels. We are really pleased that this event is helping our local economy.”

The convention opened Friday at the Palestine Senior Activity Center, included the Saturday general session and will close today with a brunch at The Redlands.

Anderson County City Council members of Beta Sigma Phi sponsored the event. Beta Sigma Phi chapters in Anderson County who assisted hosting the event were: Alpha Phi Kappa, Xi Alpha Gamma Lambda, Delta Alpha Masters and Xi Nu Beta.

On Saturday, several of the women dressed in Victorian attire to go along with the “Parasols in Palestine” theme. Palestine businesswoman Jean Mollard of Artifacts Inc. Vintage Finds  gave a presentation on how a lady properly wears a hat.

“Participation was great. We had women in all kinds of dresses — just beautiful dresses, hats and parasols. One was a Victorian maid,” BSP Area Convention co-chair April Johnston said. “We had a hat parade as well.”

The convention started Friday afternoon with the opening and a chicken spaghetti dinner provided by the Altrusa Club of Anderson County. Kenny McCann and Mandy Seale provided musical entertainment. Liz Pickle provided piano accompaniment. During the evening, the Beta Sigma Phi Elegant Emporium was held — where chapters had the opportunity to sell items and hold various fundraisers.

“Theses are very talented women and many of them are homemade items — you can never beat homemade items,” Johnston said. “The groups did very well and gave away some really nice prizes.”

The general session started Saturday morning. The group from Frisco gave a presentation on next year’s area convention to be held in Frisco, while the Austin group gave a presentation on next year’s state convention in Austin. Eilenberger’s Bakery provided a continental breakfast. Meals on Wheels of Palestine provided a seafood lunch.

“Everyone commented on how beautiful the senior center was,” Johnston said. “We were able to do a service project and give the center about $250 in donations.”

Westwood High School sophomore Justina Axum provided the musical entertainment for the day.

“The Westwood High School marching band kids came in and served for us. We know they are trying to go to trip to Disneyland in June and asked them to serve for us in exchange for a donation for their trip,” Johnston said. “We asked the ladies to donate to them as well and they were very generous. We were able to raise $600 to give the band students.”

The Tyler City Council of Beta Sigma Phi led a memorial service.

“It’s a solen salute to the ladies who have passed away this year,” Johnston said. “They light a candle, ring a bell and call out their name. That was a beautiful service.”

Palestine dignitaries provided the convention attendees with information about upcoming city events.

“The ladies had a great time. They learned about the upcoming Polar Express and the Wonderfall Oktoberfest,” Johnston said. “Now that they’ve seen Palestine, I think they will be back.”

On Saturday, the women had the opportunity to spend an evening in Palestine on the town.

“They’ve been wining and dining,” Johnston said.

But for all of the attendees what brought them to the convention was a chance to visit their sorority sisters.

“I’ve been in Beta Sigma Phi for about 38 years,” said Lindy Hill of Xi Alpha Alpha Beta of Frisco. “I like the fellowship, the cultural things we do and the service projects. But most of all, I enjoy the fellowship with the women, that’s the most important thing.”

Darlene Austin of Preceptor Mu Tau of Austin said because Beta Sigma Phi is an international organization, you can always find a group to join.

“You get to know a lot of people in your chapter. Austin has 14 to 15 chapters plus the city council and you get to know people there,” Austin said. “Sorority is now international, so even if you move to another state or even out of the country, you can find a group wherever you go.”

For Johnston, Beta Sigma Phi is about women and friendship.

“You spend some time with the women and they turn out to be your best friends. While you are visiting with them, you accomplish goals and help the community and add a little art and culture to your life,” Johnston said. “But you can’t beat being with your best girlfriends.”

The Anderson County Council of Beta Sigma Phi expressed their thanks to all of the sorority volunteers who helped with the convention, as well as the Palestine dignitaries and merchants who supported the event.

“Everybody went above and beyond and we appreciate it,” Johnston said.

Beta Sigma Phi is the largest women’s organization of its kind in the world and has grown in its lengthy history from one chapter of seven women in Abilene, Kan. to a total membership of more than 165,000 women, in over 20 countries of the world.

Beta Sigma Phi is recognized internationally for its philanthropic work, but the main goal of the organization is learning and friendship for its members. Beginning in 1931, Beta Sigma Phi was originally designed to provide an outlet for women who, during the Depression, could not attend college and were obliged to stay home and support their families. Beta Sigma Phi provided these women with a program of cultural study so they could experience intellectual and social growth.

Cultural and social growth remains high on the Beta Sigma Phi agenda. Each year, members organize programs that enhance cultural understanding. Members also plan socials for themselves and their communities. A highlight of the year is the area convention.

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