Local sorority attracts major convention

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By Carol A. Clark

Beta Sigma Phi members in Los Alamos are preparing for a state convention set to draw more than 200 sorority sisters, plus dozens of husbands, from throughout New Mexico for three days of local history, culture, arts and entertainment this weekend.

“Our theme is The Golden Age – the 1940s,” said Convention Chairwoman Dawn Brown.

Convention co-chairwomen include Kate Stoddard and Shannon Harms.

“I am impressed with the effort this organization has put forth to see that Los Alamos will shine for this convention,” said Hilltop House owner Kim Selvege. “This is a huge undertaking and I hope it shows that Los Alamos can host more national conventions in the future.”

Chamber Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos and other staff have been working to help ensure the convention is a success.

“We’re really happy to welcome the state convention to Los Alamos; it’s an honor to have them here,” Korkos said.

The chamber has donated use of its tent for convention attendees use at Gordons Concert later this evening.

Fundraising Committee Co-Chairwoman Mary Mah spoke of the convention saying, “I’m excited that we’re hosting the convention here and I look forward to showing off Los Alamos and how good everything is looking.”   

The convention kicks off this evening with a dinner and cultural night at Fuller Lodge, with the theme, Los Alamos the early years.

Debbie Wersonick of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Community Programs Office will provide a snapshot of life in the 1940s with her memorabilia and uniforms.

The Los Alamos Historical Museum is providing photos of Los Alamos in the ’40s.

“This event is due in part to the wonderful corporate sponsors who were excited to see us showcase Fuller Lodge,” Brown said.

Opening ceremonies for the convention take place Saturday morning with the Los Alamos Girls Scouts posting of the Colors and the signing of the National Anthem by locals, Helen Boorman, Bethany Redmond and Kathleen MacDonald.

“We will also have two guest speakers, Shirley Raye Redmond and Georgia Strickfaden,” Brown said. “The Los Alamos Hillstompers will perform for us downtown at 3 p.m. and Georgia Strickfaden of Buffalo Tours will give the men attending a first rate tour of Los Alamos on Saturday morning, they will also tour the Bradbury Museum.”

The Chamber will greet convention attendees and serve them refreshments from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday, she said.

“We will have a swinging good time Saturday night dining on prime rib at the Hilltop House and dancing to the sounds of the Los Alamos Big Band, it will be a Hollywood Glamour affair, the theme is a BetAcademy evening (a takeoff of the Academy awards, 1940s style),” Brown said. “Sunday will culminate our weekend with the traditional Beta Sigma Phi events.”

Beta Sigma Phi is a nonprofit service and social sorority founded in 1931. The organization has grown to 250,000 members worldwide.

“The three Greek letters begin the words for Life, Learning and Friendship, our ideals,” Brown said. “There are currently five chapters active in Los Alamos, with a total of 52 members. We meet for cultural programs, fellowship and to plan and carry out service projects in our community.”

“The first Los Alamos Beta Sigma Phi chapter was formed in 1948, and a second followed in 1949. So we felt it was fitting that we bid to host the New Mexico State Convention in June of 2009, our town’s 60th anniversary year,” she said. “Our bid was overwhelmingly approved.”

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.