Melanie Perry Hamer, Butler, joined Tri Delta as a sophomore, excited to be part of restarting the Delta Lambda chapter after it was closed for 12 years. As a collegiate member, she became Butler’s first Black president of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization and, in her leadership roles, learned about Tri Delta’s operations from the chapter level to Executive Office.
Melanie currently resides in St. Louis with her family. She works as a training coordinator in the learning and development department of Core & Main, specializing in infrastructure, waterworks and more. Before this role, she worked in nonprofit fundraising program management and grant writing.
Currently serving on the Collegiate Crescent Fund committee, Melanie’s journey as a volunteer began almost a year ago. Her introduction to this role came through Carol Knoche Helmus, Millikin, a chapter advisor at Butler and Executive Office staff member who encouraged her to take on the opportunity.
What made you decide to volunteer for Tri Delta?
“As I navigated through various careers and pivots, I realized that I needed something to ground me and connect me back to what had been a meaningful part of my life for almost two decades. I wanted to find a way to make a difference and find joy through my involvement.
“That’s why I knew I needed to get involved with Tri Delta again. No matter where I live or what I do, being a part of this organization brings me a sense of connection and purpose. Now that I’m in a more stable phase in my life, I’m able to volunteer in a more meaningful way and give back to the organization that has given me so much over the years. I’m grateful for this opportunity to reconnect and make a positive impact in the lives of others.”
What do you get most out of volunteering?
“Being part of the Collegiate Crescent Fund committee has been an incredible experience. Reviewing applications and making a very real difference in the lives of women in need is truly fulfilling. It’s not just about the feel-good factor; it’s about assisting them with the hurdles in their lives, helping them graduate and knowing that their lives are better because of their membership in Tri Delta.”
What is your most memorable experience as a volunteer?
“The story of one particular woman whose life was changed by the Collegiate Crescent Fund has stayed with me. She had become the sole breadwinner for her family, a difficult position for any young woman, especially one trying to support her parents while navigating the challenges of college. Being able to grant her funds to help her complete her education not only benefited her but had a ripple effect on her entire family. It’s important for the impact of our philanthropy to be greater than just one person, and supporting her stabilized the lives of those around her.
“Joining the committee, I was able to tap into my analytical side and noticed a gap in our follow-up process for measuring the impact of the Fund. While we asked for updates on the recipients’ lives, we lacked a systematic way of collecting data that could be used to approach trustee groups for further funding. Working with Carol, we developed a survey to assess the outcomes and impact of the Fund, including whether recipients stayed in school, graduated and saw improvements in their overall well-being.”
What advice do you have for other Tri Deltas who are thinking about volunteering?
“Take the chance. I can say from personal experience that Tri Delta has had a lasting impact on my life. The transformation I’ve experienced through volunteering is nearly as significant as when I first joined as a collegiate member. Being a part of Tri Delta is for life, and I’ve seen the positive effects of this sisterhood firsthand.
“If you’re hesitant about getting involved, consider talking to volunteers who are already involved or reaching out to your local chapter. There may be opportunities for you to get involved that you hadn’t considered before. It’s worth exploring, and the potential benefits can be incredible.”
“Through my involvement with Tri Delta, I was able to become the leader that others saw in me. Tri Delta helped me realize my potential, and I’m grateful for the opportunities and experiences it has given me.”