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The Life & Times of MTM - the first virtual alum club of Alpha Chi Omega

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Case Western Reserve University
Alpha Chi Omega National
MTM's public website
MTM's private website

February 25th, 2005

07:25 am - Other November activities (Nov 2004)
Here are some of the other things that happened in November (in addition to the Post & Win Contest):

On myfamily.com we posted the list of all lost sisters (5 lost altogether and a bunch we don’t have email addresses for) – so everyone would know who to look for for the contest. Our five lost sisters are Tina Rice, Evie Mina, Nicole Kovach, Brandye Brown & Jennifer Wilkey. Thanks to everyone who sent in working email addresses for sisters. Unfortunately we haven't found the five missing women (as of 2/25/05 at least!). We'll keep looking!

Our public website went live! http://axoalummtm.org

Some of us attended the alumni holiday chi connection at the ZU house Sunday November 14th.

We started a discussion of old/new Chapter Traditions – little things like serving casada cake at Initiation and bigger things like maintaining the family trees. [For the 20th Anniversary, the chapter traced all their big-little families back to the founders.] We made it a goal to put together a list of "lost traditions."

Finals week was fast approaching so we discussed what to do for the collegiate chapter - we had a lot of ideas - some of them not so feasible. (We thought it would be awesome to provide 24-hour coffee service at the house during Reading Days and Finals Week - but with most of us not actually living in Cleveland we couldn't find a way to make it work.) We decided to combine something "real" with something "virtual" - so we had pencils printed with a url on our site that featured a good luck message and study tips (http://axoalummtm.org/finals.html). Some of the other fun things for additional pencils (thank you to Karen, Leila and Erin for your work on this project!!) included "Achieve Believe Succeed AXO" and "Case + AXO = Stellar!!" The hardest part was keeping our messages to the 30-character maximum our vendor had on the pencil personalization!

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February 22nd, 2005

07:03 pm - The Post and Win Contest
The idea behind the post and win contest was to boost the amount of information posted on our private website with the aim of getting to know each other better. And have some fun!! It launched November 4th with this message:

Announcing the AXO ZU Alum

Post & Win Contest

The winner will choose one of these great prizes:

A sterling silver lyre charm from James Avery

A Fun Basket from Executive Sweets “…filled to the brim with our famous world famous chocolate covered potato chips, pretzel twists and cookies!” or

A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com!!!

It is easy to participate!!

All you have to do is post an item (photo, news item, etc.) to our private website at myfamily.com. For each item posted you will receive 5 raffle tickets. Members of Mu Tau Mu will receive 10 tickets for their first submission, 5 for each subsequent one.

Additionally, if you “find” someone from our Lost List, you’ll get 3 tickets!

Contest ends December 15th 2004 at midnight EST. Winner will be chosen at random in a drawing Tuesday morning December 16th. Winner will be contacted by email for her choice on the prizes after the drawing. Chances of winning depend on the number of entries submitted. The virtual alumnae club reserves the right to edit content for clarity and appropriateness.

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06:55 am - Pondering the Big Questions – Academic & Personal Achievement
We had made it our mission, practically from the get-go, to promote academic achievement among the collegians. The incentive we offered in the spring of 2004 helped them improve their grades substantially, but they missed the target by a hair. The goal was an overall chapter gpa of 2.2 and they earned a 2.189.

We started to think of ways to help – and we started to think beyond just grade point average (which while it is very important is not the only indicator of how well you do later in life, how successful you are, and how happy you are). Part of our problem was that the chapter in general (I am quoting Karen here) “did nothing to celebrate academic milestones.
As I recall, during my collegiate days [in the late 1990s] we did nothing really special to honor top students either. I don't know if the chapter has implemented any program of sorts, but perhaps we could come up with something as alums--something really enticing...”

We have a lovely ceremony to celebrate pinnings and engagements. It is called candle-passing. The entire chapter gathers in a circle in a darkened room. The warden has one lit candle which is passed sister to sister around the room as sentimental songs are sung. The first full rotation of the candle is for sisterhood, the second for pinning, the third for engagement. The sister to be celebrated blows out the candle when it comes to her in that round and thus is her secret revealed. It is a tearful happy gathering full of hugs and congratulations – we all love it!!

The only downside is it very male-centered (clearly there is no candle-passing without the man giving the pin or ring) – not a bad thing in and of itself – BUT wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some sort of ceremony that could be held to celebrate the great things in our individual lives? – like when a sister gets accepted to medical school or wins the lead in a play or gets the internship or summer job she always wanted. We have hopes of creating such a ceremony – we even have a name: Bravo-passing! Thank you Nikki for that awesome idea!!

This line of thought made us realize that we as alums could make a tiny start by setting a good example. Our private website is full of weddings, engagement, new babies, and photos of our children, and that is wonderful. We all want to see that and share those things. In addition to that though we are encouraging everyone to share their personal triumphs – new jobs, promotions, hobbies, philanthropic work and awards.

We hope to set up some kind of an informal career network – using the profile feature in myfamily.com to keep track of what we all do for a living so the collegians and younger alums will know who they can call on for advice about their professional lives. Thank you Susan for spear-heading that effort!

We hope to establish a scholarship fund – starting small perhaps with bookstore gift certificates – but working up to something bigger and more substantial.

And we hope to find more interesting creative ways to foster academic achievement and lifelong learning in all our members. Any ideas you have please share by leaving a comment! Thank you!!!

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February 19th, 2005

08:22 am - October is Domestic Violence Awaress Month
Support for victims of domestic violence is one of Alpha Chi Omega's National Philanthropies. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. We participated in three ways.

Alpha Chi Omega Foundation created a wonderful flash presentation in honor of the survivors of domestic violence. http://www.pursuant2.com/alphachiomega/axo_email1.htm

We posted the link on our website and encouraged everyone to view it and send it to their friends and family. Foundation pledged $10,000 to domestic violence programs if the presentation was sent to 10,000 people. The goal was met before the end of October!

Second we adopted the “Call to Protect” program as our MTM chapter philanthropy. You donate your old deactivated mobile phones (w/ charger & battery) and they redistribute them to victims of domestic violence. Even phones without a wireless service provider can be enabled so someone can call 911, those that can't be enabled are sold and the proceeds go to the cause. http://www.wirelessfoundation.org/CalltoProtect/index.cfm

Third, the collegians held Domestic Violence Awareness week at Case, in cooperation with the Center for Women there. We publicized all the week’s events and co-sponsored “That Takes Ovaries” an event Monday November 1st at Arabica Coffee House. More information about the program is here http://www.thattakesovaries.org Our members attended the event to help out behind the scenes and MTM provided the books that were used as door prizes that evening.

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07:55 am - Things that happened in October
The hurricanes finally stopped!

Lisa applied for our EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS online.

Alison at CIAO helped us get our paperwork together to open the bank account – letters from National, scans of our drivers licenses and social security cards… Thank you Lisa & Alison!!

We wrote an article for the Case Magazine – a true group effort that would not have been possible without the internet. Elizabeth in NYC added to my first draft, really polished it up and then Leila in VA edited it and got it ready for submission. http://axoalummtm.org/about.html. Thank you Elizabeth & Leila!!

Case hosted the Vice Presidential Debate - thank you Maura for the great photos posted on myfamily.com! Alpha Chi Omega was mentioned in a front-page article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer - a scanned copy of the article is posted here http://www.myfamily.com/isapi.dll?c=content&htx=view&siteid=tViYAM&contentid=ZZZZZZO7&contentclass=NEWS

Happy Founders' Day - October 15th!

Heather polished up our first newsletter – we edited it – and she printed it and mailed it out. Thank you Heather!! We sent it by email to our MTM members and by snail mail to all other ZU alumnae right around the first of November. http://www.myfamily.com/isapi.dll?c=Content&htx=View&siteid=tViYAM&contentid=ZZZZZZNS&contentclass=FILE

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February 17th, 2005

08:44 pm - More on the Installation (September 26, 2004)
The installation day had 4 parts: assembling & waiting for the ceremony to begin; the ceremony itself; our first chapter meeting; and the reception afterward.

We enjoyed seeing each other and meeting in real life the women who would make up our virtual club. We lined up alphabetically and made a list of all present for the petition that would be read during the ceremony. The house was looking beautiful both inside and out and the mood was festive.

The ceremony went off very nicely, thanks to Sarah’s planning, as well as Jennifer’s, Heather’s and Andrea’s contributions playing the roles of the alumnae officer, warden and petition-bearer, respectively. Afterward we thanked the 3 of them with small gifts of appreciation and took a lot of photos (one of which was published in the Lyre with our edited article). National sent little gifts for each of us – beautiful prints of the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega and pewter lyre charms. (Thank you Betsy! We mailed these to our members who could not attend the ceremony.)

Our chapter meeting consisted mostly of officer reports – from myself as President, Leila our Collegiate Liaison and Kimberly on the collegiate chapter and housing issues. Full text of those reports as well as photos are posted on myfamily.com. The only low point of the afternoon was that it did not work out to broadcast anything over the internet – and the hurricane (Jeanne) that had forced cancellation of my flight home!

Sarah and Erin set up a little feast for us for the reception following the ceremony. There was cake and punch as well as trays of cheese and crackers and veggies and dip. It was a good ending to the afternoon! And it was great to officially be an alumnae chapter!!

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February 16th, 2005

07:33 am - Official Installation Report (September 26, 2004)
The Installation of Mu Tau Mu
Submitted to The Lyre
September 29, 2004

Mu Tau Mu made Alpha Chi Omega history as it was installed Sunday September 26th as the first virtual alumnae chapter. MTM is made up primarily of alumnae of Zeta Upsilon chapter (Case Western Reserve University) and ZU’s other supporters. Rather than being geographically based, we conduct all our business over the internet – via email and websites – and boast 49 members from all around the United States – from Maine to Idaho to California to Florida and back up to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Though installed on the 26th, our official installation date is September 24, 2004, to coincide with Zeta Upsilon chapter’s founding date of September 24, 1983.

The internet affords us so many opportunities to maintain and rekindle our connections to Alpha Chi Omega. Mu Tau Mu uses this technology to keep all Zeta Upsilon alumnae in touch with the chapter, its activities, and the happenings in the lives of our alumnae (promotions, weddings, graduations, and new babies for example). MTM’s goals include supporting Zeta Upsilon and other collegiate chapters, planning the every 5-year reunions we have come to enjoy so much, conducting philanthropies, and benefiting Alpha Chi Omega in general.

We were fortunate to have 13 MTM members in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 26th to participate in the installation. It was a gorgeous fall day, made all that more special by the company of our sisters. The Zeta Upsilon chapter room was a perfect setting for the installation ceremony and the chapter and house director, Rahila Ansari, were most welcoming. A special thanks to National Council member Jennifer Diederich, Alpha Omicron, who drove up from Columbus to conduct the ceremony, Sarah Mullet, MTM member, who organized the festivities that day for us, and Betsy Fenn, Alpha, at National Headquarters, who shepherded us from being an idea into an actual chapter.

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February 15th, 2005

08:00 am - Some firsts! (August - September 2004)
A timeline:

8/24 finance committee agrees with Lisa's suggestion to hire CIAO. CIAO is a financial services company owned by an AXO. They'll set up our bank account, send us reports and help with billing for dues, all for about what we would pay for bank fees alone on a business account. We are well on our way to having our first bank account!

8/27 we received our first thank you note – from Kristina the chapter president at Case for the back-to-school cookies: “Thank you so much for the tasty back to school treats! They were much appreciated by the entire chapter. We are also excited that our lovely alumnae are so innovative to form the first virtual alum group! We look forward to keeping all ZY alumnae and collegiates in better touch with eachother!”

9/7 Leila made a date to meet with the Greek Life Office at Case the week of our installation - to fill them in on new alumnae group and get a feel for the state of greek life on campus. It's our first official appointment!

9/10 Jennifer (an AXO National Council member from Columbus, Ohio) agreed to come to Cleveland to conduct our installation ceremony which will officially be held Sunday September 26th at 1pm at the ZU house. The plans for the installation are coming along well and we are excited to have someone representing the National organization participate in our activities!!

9/11 first draft of our first newsletter ready for editing.

9/15 due to the hard work of Kristina the ZU president, a new chapter advisor is recruited – she and the Recruitment Advisor agree to help with the installation ceremony. 2 MTM members volunteer for the advisory board as well.

9/17 first donation made to AXO Foundation in our name (by the director of alumnae province chairs – thank you!)

coming next - the installation!

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February 14th, 2005

07:00 am - Setting up our alum group... in cyber space (August - September 2004)
Now that we had official approval we got to work on all the details we could not attend to before – the things every new alum group (for that matter, any sort of club) must do to get going – only we had to do it “virtually.”
- set up a bank account
- plan our installation ceremony
- fill out our executive board
Setting up our banking turned out to be complicated. Having the President and Treasurer not only not in the same city but in totally different time zones meant it was unlikely we could go to the same bank branch and fill out signature cards. We took suggestions from our members for banks to work with and found that even Bank of America is not nation-wide (in fact they are only in 26 states). Lisa researched our many different options while I worked on the details for the installation. We had two thoughts: One was to have a ‘virtual installation’ in a chat room maybe on the actual date, Friday, September 24th provided that our members all like that idea and that National agreed and that we could find a time on that day that would work for most of us; A second option was to have an ‘irl (in real life)’ installation in Cleveland that weekend – maybe Sunday, September 26th, with the understanding that many of our members would not be able to attend.

There was understandable hesitancy on the part of Headquarters staff to broadcasting our secret ritual over the internet, no matter how much security we could attach to the proceedings, so we went with the second option – an installation ceremony in Cleveland.

The collegians agreed that the 26th was a good day for us to use the house for our ceremony. After discussions with National, we agreed to try to simulcast the installation on the web but not include any of the ritual. Sarah volunteered to be our Warden/ritual specialist and be in charge of setting up everything we’d need on-site.

In addition to Sarah we added Karen and Jen as Philanthropy co-Chairs, Heather as Newsletter Editor, and Erin as webmaster and felt like our Executive Board was really coming together.

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February 12th, 2005

07:34 am - Hurray!! (August 23, 2004)
Finally we got word about the National Council meeting. Betsy wrote: “I have exciting news!! Your Petition for a New Alumnae Chapter was approved on August 14, 2004. The chapter will be named the Mu Tau Mu alumnae chapter. I will be in touch with you soon regarding plans for an installation of some sort. I also wanted to let you know that it was also approved for your founding date to be September 24, 2004 to match the founding date of Zeta Upsilon."

August 23rd was also the first day of classes at Case. We delivered 2 boxes of cookies from Presti's to the house as a welcome back to the collegians. The chapter president sent us a nice thank you note that week: "Thank you so much for the tasty back to school treats! They were much appreciated by the entire chapter. We are also excited that our lovely alumnae are so innovative to form the first virtual alum group! We look forward to keeping all ZY alumnae and collegiates in better touch with eachother!"

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