September 2021 Alumnae Chapter of the Month: Inland Empire, California

This month, we are excited to feature the Inland Empire Southern California Alumnae Chapter, which encompasses parts of San Bernadino and Riverside counties in Southern California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. This chapter will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022! Read more to see how these women are staying connected and what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.

Inland Empire Southern California Alumnae Chapter includes women from 85 different collegiate chapters. Members pictured here attended the annual Founders’ Day lunch in March 2020, before the pandemic.

Chapter Philanthropy Event/Monies Raised for CMN Hospitals

  • With no Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in our area, we support either Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or Children’s Hospital Orange County.
  • We have donated books to the Ronald McDonald House at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital and the Loma Linda Veterans’ Administration Hospital. Patty Kneen Engel, Eta Delta (UCLA), chairs our book efforts, which are currently on pause due to the hospitals’ concerns about COVID-19.
California’s Inland Empire region encompasses 27,350 square miles and has a population of over 4.4 million.

Fun Chapter Facts

  • We know of 180 Phi Mus from 85 different collegiate chapters in our chapter territory, which covers over 27,350 square miles, has a population of over 4.4 million and includes such places as Claremont, Palm Springs and Redlands. We live everyone from thriving cities to the mountains and deserts, with many places of interest to investigate and visit.
  • We send an annual newsletter to all sisters in the territory and have successfully connected with 50 of them representing 30 collegiate chapters. We have a small but faithful core membership!
  • Founders’ Day is our favorite event and we share it with the Southern California Council (SCC), which is composed of the Eta Nu Chapter at California State University, Northridge and the alumnae chapters of Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. We host that celebration every fourth year when our delegate’s turn as SCC Vice President comes around.
  • Our Holiday Luncheon in December and our Anniversary Celebration in June are also always on the calendar
  • We try to hold at least one annual event in the Coachella Valley, such as a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum. Other activities include outdoor concerts, theatrical productions, visits to regional botanical gardens and movie nights. Spouses and guests are included at almost every event.
Carolyn Monsanto, Eta Delta (UCLA), serves in a variety of volunteer positions including SCCAP Treasurer, President of the Eta Delta House Corporation and Eta Nu Chapter’s Financial Adviser. She is also a member the National Music Committee for Phi Mu Fraternity.

Interesting Facts about Members

  • There are four Alumnae Panhellenics in our territory. Carolyn Monsanto, Eta Delta (UCLA), is the San Bernardino Alumnae Panhellenic Representative to the Southern California Council of Alumnae Panhellenics (SCCAP) and is serving SCCAP as the 2021-2022 Treasurer.
  • Katie Austin Donovan, Alpha Psi (Southeastern Louisiana University), has represented Phi Mu in the Riverside Alumnae Panhellenic, hosting parties at her home and coordinating volunteer docents for their annual Home Tour, which supports scholarships.
  • Patty Kneen Engel, Eta Delta (UCLA), participates in the Redlands Alumnae Panhellenic.
Epsilon Rho Chapter members at Lyon College in Arkansas enjoy candied apples from their Heart to Heart Chapter, Inland Empire Southern California Alumnae Chapter.

Collegiate Chapter Support

  • In 2010, we requested Epsilon Rho Chapter at Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., for our Heart to Heart Chapter, as they were chartered just a year after we were. We regularly send them goodies and greetings for Heart to Heart Day, often the product of our annual Cookie Exchange.
  • For the last two years, the goodies were a pink and white caramel apple for each sister from a special local apple store. These are the same apples Eta Nu receives for Bid Days from the Eta Delta House Corporation at UCLA where Carolyn Monsanto serves as President.
  • Carolyn also serves as the Eta Nu Financial Adviser and as a member of the National Music Committee.
  • Our President, Marty Dennis Vranich, Delta Delta (Ohio University), served for a number of years as Treasurer of Southern California Council, and Susan Hunter Hancock, Eta Zeta (University of California, Fresno), just completed eight years of service as Treasurer of the Eta Delta House Corporation.

Staying Connected during COVID-19

  • Because of the distances we need to travel, combined with the fact that over half of our actively participating sisters are 50-year members, Zoom was our only comfortable means of gathering for 15 months.
  • The one good feature of Zoom has been the ability of several sisters who have moved out of state to join our events.
  • We have felt safe enough since June to resume in-person meetings.
Inland Empire members look forward to gathering in person for more events, including their annual Founders’ Day Celebration and luncheon, which has not been held since 2020.

What We Are Most Looking Forward to

  • Next spring, we are looking forward to three events that have each been rescheduled twice due to COVID-19: visits to the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, the Alpine Zoo and Miss Liberty Paddleboat in Big Bear and our third Museum March, where we visit two or three small local museums, followed by a lunch outing.