After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Tri Delta Foundation provided support for our collegiate and alumnae members — assisting them in every possible way.
At the beginning of the fall 2017 semester, Nicole Ho, Carnegie Mellon, had returned to Pittsburgh from her home in Houston, Texas. As vice president of membership for Alpha Tau Chapter, Nicole was focused on preparing for recruitment and starting her junior year as a mechanical engineering major at Carnegie Mellon. Then, two weeks before recruitment and the day before classes started, she received a call from her mom in Houston: Hurricane Harvey had hit, and the area where Nicole’s family lived was flooding. Nicole’s mom was evacuating the house with Nicole’s brother and their dogs. Nicole’s father, who works in emergency management for the city, wasn’t home at the time.
“She asked me if there was anything I wanted her to take from the house. When you get that phone call… I couldn’t think,” Nicole recalls. “I could only think of a couple of sentimental items, including the hat I wore on the dance team in high school.”
Nicole’s family took refuge in a neighbor’s house amidst rising flood waters, and Nicole was filled with worry about their safety from 1,000 miles away. She tried to keep the situation to herself while she focused on putting the finishing touches on recruitment.
But as the flood waters continued to rise, Nicole couldn’t keep it to herself anymore. The neighbor’s home where her family was staying soon flooded as well, and her mom and brother had to evacuate on jet skis.
“I was calling them through the 48-hour time period, checking on them. My parents told me to just focus on school and recruitment and not to worry, but it’s hard being so far away.”
Nicole finally told her Tri Delta sisters what was happening. And that’s when they stepped in.
Committee members took on the extra work of finalizing plans for recruitment. Sisters brought her snacks and checked on her, just to make sure she was doing ok. Everyone showed up on time and pitched in to help set up and clean up.
“Everywhere I turned, I found unwavering support.”
One of the chapter advisors who had come to help with a recruitment workshop also reached out to Nicole and let her know that Tri Delta was there to support her and encouraged her to apply for the Collegiate Crescent Fund offered through the Tri Delta Foundation.
“During the new member period, I remember the new member educator had mentioned the Collegiate Crescent Fund; I filed it away in the back of my head, thinking I was never going to need it,” says Nicole.
With her family facing the expense of rebuilding their home and replacing everything that was lost, Nicole knew she would need help alleviating the cost of her tuition and living expenses. Her advisor and sisters were happy to help with the grant application and wrote letters on her behalf.
The application process, Nicole says, was quick and easy. She was sitting in class one day when she got an email saying she had received the grant.
“It’s hard trying to help your family when you are thousands of miles away. You feel like you can’t do anything, but being able to provide this for my family made me feel less helpless. It made me feel like I was contributing in some way.”
As of spring 2018 — after months of construction — Nicole’s family was able to move back into their rebuilt and newly furnished home.
Nicole’s family is grateful for the assistance Tri Delta provided. Her father, who never quite understood what sororities were, has a newfound interest in and appreciation for his daughter’s membership in Tri Delta.
“When he found out that we got the grant, he started trying to figure out what Tri Delta was all about. A lot of times you don’t think of a sorority as providing these types of resources for its members — it was eye-opening for him,” says Nicole.
“My sisters are there to support me, no matter what. Even when you’re experiencing the hardest of times, Tri Delta is there to make sure you have what you need to be successful.”
Sisters Helping Sisters
The Collegiate Crescent Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to collegiate sisters facing an unforeseen financial crisis that might force them to withdraw from school, was established in 1999 with a generous bequest from Sarah Shinn Marshall, Illinois. The timing of the gift was perfect, as the Foundation Board at the time — chaired by Jean Wiggin Roach, Texas Christian — had been working toward establishing a fund that could help collegiate members.
“We were so thrilled,” remembers Jean. “I’ll never forget the day we found out about the bequest. We wanted to do everything we could to help our members, and this made that dream come true.”
Since the first award was made in 2000, the Collegiate Crescent Fund has awarded $385,581 to 184 collegiate women, with an average grant of $2,095. As of spring 2018, more than 20 grants have been made totaling $44,231 during the 2017-18 fiscal year, with new requests still coming in.
Over the years, the needs reported by our collegiate women include: natural disasters, house fires, a parent’s unexpected job loss or untimely death, medical bills for the student or family and other family tragedies.
“We wanted to build on what had been done with the Crescent Fund for alumnae and make it available to everyone in need,” says Jean. “Our Purpose is to assist our members in every possible way, and we need to take care of our collegiate members, too.”