The Atlanta alumnae chapter of Delta Gamma first got involved with CVI many years ago, close to our founding here in the city. The first chapter president, Marianne Lee, was close to the Hendersons, and she and her husband Buddy have supported CVI through the years.
In December 2007, I was elected VP: Foundation of the Delta Gamma chapter at the University of Georgia. This position is responsible for service, awareness, and philanthropic fundraising for our national philanthropy, Service for Sight. Coincidentally, I was also diagnosed with choroidal melanoma, a malignant tumor of the eye located behind my retina, in the same month. After a scary few weeks, I had a surgery to attach a radioactive plaque to my eye to kill the tumor. 5 days after my first surgery, the plaque was removed, but my vision suffered due to the damage to my retina. I have been cancer-free and “legally blind” in my right eye ever since. I am not considered visually impaired Because the vision of my left eye is currently corrected by glasses, but if I should somehow lose sight in that eye, I would likely need the extensive services provided by CVI. In summer 2008, I toured CVI with my mom, so I could better understand our philanthropic aim. I learned about the many programs CVI offers and left my tour so impressed with the many ways CVI can assist its clients- BEGIN’s preschool classes; STARS’ afterschool programs; New View’s career services and assistive technology! I also left with a lot of literature to pass along to my sisters back in Athens in order to brainstorm ways we could work with CVI.
Today, the collegiate chapter assists our alumnae chapter with setting up and dancing with the STARS students at the Red and White Ball each winter. Our alumnae chapter has provided the food, DJ, venue, decorations, and play auction items for this event for nearly 15 years. It is our favorite event each year and brings so many DGs together to celebrate the night with the STARS students! One of my favorite moments each year (aside from the “line dances” like the Wobble), is the crowning of the king and queen of the Ball! This past year, Tony Velo was a repeat king, and the collegiate chapter’s “adopted lil sis” McClain Hermes was crowned queen! The UGA chapter often attends McClain’s swim meets and learns so much about her experience as a teen with a visual impairment. The UGA chapter was connected to McClain through Heather Dicks, STARS Director, so we are so thankful for the connections CVI has provided us in serving those with visual impairments.
Our chapter also enjoys volunteering at BEGIN’s Spring Fling each year. We provide breakfast and help with any activities as needed for these little ones to enjoy a spring tradition of locating beeping eggs. Our current vp: Foundation, Megan Spellman, is hard at work to discover new events or efforts to which all DGs in the area can contribute. She has big plans for themed supply drives each month in order to help replenish supplies for CVI and STARS. She is also involved in planning upcoming fundraisers, to be announced, to benefit CVI as well as our national Foundation. We hope to promote each event to involve you, the CVI community, to help us really make an impact here!
I am so lucky to have gotten connected with the wonderful CVI community, namely Heather Dicks and Lara Tillery. They have kept me connected with so many events, resources, and knowledge that have helped me be a more competent vp: Foundation, school psychologist, and accessibility services professional. Thank you for allowing me to share a little of our chapter’s history with and passion for CVI!