Dear Delta Upsilon Sisters of Gamma Phi Beta,
My own candlelight was held in this house back in 1985 when I became engaged to our sorority big brother, Mark White, whom I started dating in 1983. That time seems so long ago, yet it is so bright in the memories of the women who were charter members of Gamma Phi Beta at the University of Georgia. Rush, chapter meetings, and our first candlelight were all held in the terribly hot upper room of Memorial Hall where we had so many decisions to make and so much to learn. It was our hope and dream to have a house of our own, but we thought that a group of apartments near Atlanta Highway would have to do until the amazing chance came for Gamma Phi Beta to own 397 S. Milledge Avenue.
With help from national, collegiate and alumnae advisors, we hurried to get the house ready for fall rush in 1983 with all of us cleaning, polishing, doing yard work and learning flip flop in our free time. It was exciting to see this house decorated and filled with flowers, one family even presented us with a beautiful engraved antique hall tree. Rush that year was amazing, but the reality that the meeting space was too small was very clear. Chapter meetings filled every available inch in the front of the house, and during candlelight ceremonies it was hard to tell who blew the candle out. PACE meetings had to be elsewhere in the “Bell South” community room or in a campus classroom. We all thought that we would have a chapter room soon, but we really had no idea what an effort would be involved.
The crowding never got in the way of our fun, though. We laughed our way through each new challenge, and we loved each other, though Ms. Carolyn, our first house mother, didn’t always think so. That love still lasts through the years, and it brings me joy to reconnect with Gamma Phi Beta sisters and to meet new ones in my community of Northern Virginia. It is with delight that I’ve seen daughters of friends become Gamma Phi Betas, too. When parents of seniors at our children’s school met recently, one said that being in a sorority was the worst mistake of her life. I had to disagree with her, though, because Gamma Phi Beta has only enriched my life. Were there problems? Yes, of course there were, but we grow through adversity. Were there temptations? Yes, of course there were, but this helps us to learn how to focus on what is important. Did each of us grow as people? Absolutely, we are all still growing. You are on a lifelong adventure filled with love, labor, learning, and loyalty.
We enjoyed the fruit from many sisters who had gone before us, and today you enjoy the fruit from many sisters who have gone before you. We could not forget that this house needed extensive renovations since we used it ourselves, and it is a pleasure to help you to have the first chapter room for Delta Upsilon. We know that you will use it well, and you will leave things better than you found them, too. Our Chapter Advisor, Martha Mendenhall, was one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known. She helped us through many struggles, and she lived an incredible example of love and forgiveness. I challenge each of you to always have someone you are mentoring and to always have someone to be mentoring you, too. Wherever you go, may you be a shining light for Gamma Phi Beta, honoring those who came before you and, like those of us continuing our commitment to Gamma Phi, helping those who will come after you.
Sharon Anderson White ‘83
- J Flo
- I pledged in 2000, and that's when I first heard we were going to renovate the house. I graduated in 2004, moved to Atlanta where I now live with my fellow UGA grad (and AKL advisor) hubby Eric. Since 2006, I've been volunteering with HCB. I have been an Atlanta-area Realtor for the past 3 years and now also serve as the southeastern property manager for Chick-fil-A, Inc. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org