When Bobby Stanton, our director of development and alumni engagement, and I were on the road earlier this year, we were discussing Omicron Delta Kappa;s tagline with one of my former Georgia colleagues. We had shared with him O∆K’s often quoted positioning statement of “Campus leaders today, community leaders tomorrow.” My colleague challenged us to think about how our current student members are already truly community leaders well before they graduate. There’s much that our student members do to benefit the communities in which their campuses are located and in their hometowns. From supporting local charities through participation in fund-raising drives to providing time and energy to service projects – our members invest in the places in which they study, work, and live.
At O∆K headquarters, we too invest in the community of Lexington, Va. In the last week alone, staff members have helped host art gallery tours, participated in church activities, and helped plan the upcoming Gobble Wobble to benefit the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic and the Rockbridge Area YMCA.
Last night, we also hosted the Lexington/Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event for the month of October. It was a great opportunity to introduce Omicron Delta Kappa to the business community. While our colleagues in education at Washington and Lee and VMI know us pretty well, it was good to have this informal activity so that our physical neighbors and local business leaders could get to know O∆K better. After all, we are bringing nearly 400 visitors to town next summer. It was a delighted to have Lexington’s mayor, the chamber executive, and other community leaders tour the train station and enjoy some really delicious food (apparently, the O∆K staff likes to cook and is pretty good at it).
Our guests had such a great time that we practically had to shut down the Oktoberfest buffet and turn off the lights to get them out the door! In many ways, this was also good practice for our staff because in June 2014, we are planning on hosting brunch for a little more than 300 individuals at headquarters when we dedicate our train station home. We’ll tent the parking lot that day to accommodate all of the guests. However, after last night, we definitely have a better sense as to how to arrange the archives displays, food stations, and even the furniture as we welcome the convention attendees.
Lastly, by virtue of welcoming the community to O∆K’s national headquarters last night, I had the chance to meet my father’s second cousin, Mr. Otis Mead. Actually, Mr. Mead and I didn’t realize that we were “kin” until we started discussing Lynchburg, Va. which is where my parents were raised. We were discussing the construction of a high school in that community, and I mentioned that my family had sold a parcel of land for the building of the school. About ten minutes later, Mr. Mead mentioned to me that a branch of his family had sold part of their land for the building of the same high school. Turns out, it was the same family! My father and Cousin Otis spoke on the phone last night for about 15 minutes, and it was the first time that they have chatted in more than 50 years. Mr. Mead is a member of O∆K, and I am truly delighted to know another member who is also a family member.
If you are out supporting your community this weekend, I hope you will have meaningful work, good weather, and a sense of making a difference. As O∆K-er’s, we are definitely community leaders today and tomorrow.