• The Lewiston Morning Tribune – Feminine Focus
    Published in the November 2004 issue

    By: Lisa Manyon
    For Target Publications

    When Jennifer Young was transferred by Shopko to manage the Pullman store in February 2001 – and her husband transferred to Lewiston to be assistant manager of that store – it was a big change from life in Quincy, Ill.

    Young and her husband, Kevin, welcomed the change, but found that establishing a household, starting jobs in a new area, commuting to work and working in different towns left little time to develop friendships.

    It was by chance that Young was introduced to Beta Sigma Phi.

    “The sorority has provided me with a network of friends and has seen me through so many life transitions,” Young said.

    Young first heard about Beta Sigma Phi from Colleen Grittner of Lewiston, who has been a member of a Lewiston chapter of the organization for more than eight years.

    The two women met when Young was shopping for window treatments for her home and Grittner answered her call for bids.

    Young said she told Grittner she and her husband were having trouble meeting friends, and Grittner told her about Beta Sigma Phi.

    Beta Sigma Phi is a non-academic based women’s sorority founded in 1931 in Abilene, Kansas, by Walter W. Ross.

    Originally, Beta Sigma Phi was created as a book club, but it blossomed into a women’s organization that today has more than 165,000 members internationally, with groups in all 50 states, each Canadian providence and more than 32 countries.

    There are 29 Beta Sigma Phi groups in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington with a total of 335 members, according to figures from the group’s headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

    Each group holds meetings once or twice a month that are constructed around a short educational program, chapter business and socializing. The groups in each location get together a few times a year for various socials and representatives of each group meet more often to discuss group business.

    The Greek letters of the Beta Sigma Phi name mean “Life, Learning and Friendship.”

    Shortly after they met, Grittner invited Young to a meeting. Young joined that chapter and has been a member for more than two years.

    Young has changed careers and is now the manager of Bath & Body Works in Lewiston and she and her husband have sold their previous home and bought a different one.

    “Connections in sorority really helped during the buying and selling of homes,” Young said. “One of my sorority sisters had a home we were able to rent during the transition.”

    Sorority enables people to give back to the community, develop female friendships and learn new things, Young said.

    Grittner said she has stayed in Beta Sigma Phi for similar reasons.

    “The peer support is amazing,” she said. “It’s a constant in my life that I really feel good about.”

    Young shared her sorority experience with her mother, Kathryn Winebrinner, who lives in Washington, Mo.?  Winebrinner had just moved to that area from Augusta, Ill., and Young found her mother’s concerns about meeting new people closely mirrored how she felt when she moved to Lewiston.

    Young called Beta Sigma Phi headquarters in Kansas City to get information about groups in her mother’s new location. She got names and phone numbers.

    Winebrinner went to her first meeting in Washington, Mo., in May 2004. Young was there visiting and went with her.

    Since then Winebrinner has been participating in the sorority and said the experience has changed her life.

    “I’ve met new friends and participated in interesting socials, such as a tour of local wineries that was a group social with husbands
    included,” Winebrinner said in a recent telephone interview.

    Winebrinner also recently worked a group fundraiser at the Washington County fair, the third largest county fair in Missouri.

    “Our group worked the information booth and it was a great way to meet people in the community,” she said. “I’m also impressed with the new things we learn.?  Recently two group members presented a program on their trip to Europe.”

    Her group is adopting children through the local pregnancy council and shopping for the families for Christmas, Winebrinner said.

    “At our next meeting they will bring the items and gift wrap as a group so everyone can see what was purchased.”

    Winebrinner, Young and Grittner all said making new friends is the most important aspect of sorority for them.

    It also was a surprising benefit to the granddaughter of Beta Sigma Phi founder Walter W. Ross.

    “When I became a member and started making friendships through Beta Sigma Phi, I found that people could want to be your friend just because they liked you, not for what it would get them,” Laura Ross Wingfield said in a recent e-mail interview from the organization’s headquarters. “That was a revelation to me.”

    Beta Sigma Phi helped her transform from someone who was shy and had low self esteem to a person who is no longer shy and who is sure of herself, she said.

    “I grew up with Beta Sigma Phi and never really believed all I was told about it by my parents,” Wingfield said. “Then I came to work for the organization and found out that what I had been told was nowhere near as great as the organization really was.”

    Wingfield is in charge of the online chapters of Beta Sigma Phi.

    More information about Beta Sigma Phi is available by writing to Beta Sigma Phi, Membership Department, 1800 W. 91st Place, Kansas City, Mo. 64114-0500, by calling 1-888-238-2221, or by visiting

    It costs $48 to join the organization, and $24 each year after.

    Lisa Manyon is "The Business Marketing Architect" a content and copywriting strategist for mission-driven entrepreneurs. She's the creator of the NEW marketing model for success (as seen in Inc. Magazine) that's changing the way people market today. She specializes in powerfully communicating your marketing message to increase results via Manyon Marketing Web Makeovers, website copy packages and content strategies to effectively market your business. She offers a free Copywriting Action Plan and marketing resources on her award winning blog. Her consulting and coaching is known to help produce million dollar results www.writeoncreative.com/blog


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