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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hoosier Heritage

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Women of Tri Kappa attend a garden party at Irene Murphy's home, Brazil, in June of 1934. In Clay County, the first active chapter of Tri Kappa was founded in 1914.
* Philanthropic sorority Tri Kappa -- oldest organization in Clay County

Kappa Kappa Kappa, Inc. (Tri Kappa), a philanthropic sorority, is the oldest active organization in Clay County. This unique organization is the only philanthropic organization that exists only within the state of Indiana.

Seven young women, including May Wright Sewall, at the Girls' Classical School of Indianapolis founded the organization in February 1901. Each woman was to begin a chapter of Tri Kappa in her hometown.

Members of Tri Kappa pose for a photo during the 1960s including (back, from left) Mary Lou Meinhardt, Ann Leve, Mary Jo Butts, Dorothy Smell, (front, from left) Delores Thomas and Margaret Meal.
In Clay County, the first active chapter was founded in 1914 by Gertrude Andrews, Mabel Marietta Bishop, Marion Grimes Snyder, Myrtle Halstead Clifford, Gladys Gilmore, Louise McCrea, Eunice McCullough, Mary Moore, Eva Morrish Robertson, Majorie Campbe Rumbley and Erma Hand Watts.

Eventually, Tri Kappa grew into 146 active chapters and 120 associate chapters, which are like alumni chapters that help support the active chapters, totaling almost 10,000 active members within Indiana.

"It is a way to extend your gifts and talents to help other people," Roberta Weliever, one of the oldest active members in Clay County, said. She was invited to become a Tri Kappa in Winchester, Ind., and affiliated with the Brazil chapter in 1968 when she moved to Clay County.

The Brazil Tri Kappa chapter was installed on June 5, 1914. Now, this chapter includes 25 active members and 11 college-aged members known as legacies.

"As soon as they graduate high school, if they have a mother or grandmother that was a Tri Kappa, they can be a Tri Kappa (legacy)," Weliever said. "We hope these girls will become a part of our chapter or get involved wherever they move."

Tri Kappa's purpose is to bring women into close relationships for the promotion of charity, culture and education.

During Tri Kappa Week in 1998, Michelle Oehler (left) hands a white carnation to Mayor Kenny Crabb. Also in the photo is Marian Harrison. In Clay County, Tri Kappa Week is celebrated the week beginning on a Sunday and ending the following Saturday that includes Feb. 22, their founding date.
"Every chapter and even at the state level, we work for those three goals," Weliever, who's been a member since 1965, said.

At the state level, Tri Kappa makes donations annually to The Mental Health Association in Indiana, Arc of Indiana, Indiana Special Olympics and many other charitable causes.

"On the state level, (Tri Kappa) really helped me because I had to give speeches in front of hundreds of people," Weliever said. "It also taught me how to handle a committee."

The organization divides the state into 12 provinces, and each chapter donates money to the state council projects, as well as donates to the local projects within their province. Locally, the sorority helps projects such as the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, Serving on the Streets (S.O.S.), Clay County Benevolent Ministry, Northview senior girls' "Wish You Well" program and the Clay Community Skatepark.

"I like that Tri Kappa allows me to give back to a community I've grown up in -- to better it and be a positive force within it," Meganne Stepp, president of the active chapter, said.

To promote literacy, Tri Kappa gave a chapter book to every second grader in Clay County last year. They plan to continue the project this year.

The chapter also gives scholarships to graduating seniors at Northview High School and Clay City High School, gives Christmas gifts to children at the LEEAP center and adopts families for Christmas.

"We do a lot with only 25 people," Weliever, who has been chapter president twice during the 1980s, said.

The members raise money by selling pecans and nuts, hosting a Christmas home tour, selling Beef House rolls and hosting a Longaberger basket bingo.

The organization also has an art collection including almost 100 paintings all from Indiana. It is on loan to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, right now and can be found in the library.

"It's just beautiful, and some of the pictures are quite old," Weliever said.

Tri Kappa meets the first Monday of every month, except for July when they do not meet at all.

"This organization helps you grow as a person," Weliever said. "Plus, you meet all kinds of people who have the same goals that you have."

Members must be invited into Tri Kappa and then voted on. However, anyone who is interested in getting involved in this organization can speak with a member.

Officers of the Clay County chapter include President Stepp, Vice President Megan Baylor, Recording Secretary Nicole Keller, Corresponding Secretary Vanessa Paullus, Assistand Corresponding Secretary Sara Schultz, Treasure Kristen Beasley and Advisor Larissa Goshen.

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