120 - Recipe for Lifelong Friendship, The AARPettes

What do you get when you take 11 Sisters from four different Chi Omega chapters across four states, stir them together through leadership and volunteer service to their alumnae chapters, fold in life’s triumphs, trials and tribulations, then add overflowing spoonfuls of pure joy to celebrate milestones, travel adventures, fun dining experiences and more? Well, you have a beautiful recipe for lifelong friendship as exemplified by the AARPettes – Attractive Ageless Rejuvenated Pals – a group of Dallas area Sisters, who since the late 1980’s have met regularly to discuss Chi Omega updates, especially recruitment, and to share their personal lives.

The AARPettes posing together on a 1920’s vintage railroad car in Grapevine, Texas, for the Chi Omega Foundation’s Sisterhood Never Stops Campaign in 2012

Alumnae chapter leaders and selfless volunteers, former Dallas Chi Omega Christmas Market Chairs and volunteers, event sponsors and hosts, mothers and grandmothers of Chi Omegas (including the 2016 Supreme Governing Council Model Initiate), philanthropists, three Dallas Outstanding Chi Omega recipients, and more – these Sisters came together with a strong desire to keep their bond alive long after passing the leadership torch to younger Sisters – and strong the bond continues.

On The Road Again: The “Lifetime of Friendship” Road

Originally published in The Eleusis Fall 2008 and written by Shelba Baker Brown, Psi/Arkansas

The AARPettes (Attractive Ageless Rejuvenated Pals) traveled to Colorado Springs and Beaver Creek last summer. We met through the Richardson, Texas, alumnae group in the late 1960s. Carol Heller and Suzanne Caruso formed the group in 1989 so we could stay in touch. Today the AARPettes meet for dinner regularly and take an annual trip.

United by our love of Chi Omega philanthropy and community service and our friendships fostered by working together in the Dallas Alumnae Chapter, our personal ties are strengthened with social dinners and planned travel activities, which are packed with an abundance of shared fun and good humor. We consider laughter to be good medicine and an important part of staying together, staying healthy, and remaining active in life.

The 11 AARPettes have paved a special friendship road for a lifetime. We are a source of support for each other, offering encouragement, affection, and recognition of special achievement. In times of loss or disappointment, we give comfort and hope.

We firmly believe: “Time spent with a friend is time well spent,” and recommend that Chi Omega Sisters everywhere start their own connections through similar friendship avenues. It will be a road that will bring special joy to all participants. If we can adopt a name like AARPettes and be successful this long, the possibilities for you are unlimited. Get on the ROAD!

Pictured from the left, kneeling, are: Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Wilbank Owens, Iota/Texas– Austin; Ann Jacbos Sanders, Psi/Arkansas–Fayetteville; Betty (“Bitsy”) Ruth Carter, Iota; Louise Mugford Hager, Iota; standing are Shelba Baker Brown, Psi; Charlotte Becker Sullivan, Iota; Shirley King Lockett, Iota; Carol Franklin Heller, Iota; Suzanne Arkoosh Caruso, Rho Alpha/Missouri–Columbia; Joan Wheeler Lane, Nu/Wisconsin; and Dona Reese Harris, Iota.

Now all “Golden Owls” (50+ year Chi Omegas), their AARPette Sisterhood has been resilient through every season of their lives, and they have given back to Chi Omega along the way. They have also championed each other and celebrated their individual accomplishments. At the 2010 Chi Omega Convention, when Carol Heller was recognized with the Roselyn T. Dabbs Philanthropist Award, her AARPette Sisters were with her in Orlando cheering the loudest.

Carol Heller, 2010 Roselyn T. Dabbs Philanthropist Award Recipient

They also answered Chi Omega’s call to appear in the campaign brochure for the Chi Omega Foundation’s Sisterhood Never Stops Campaign launched in 2012, posing together on a 1920’s vintage railroad car in Grapevine, Texas. Their authentic story of friendship, loyalty and lifelong Sisterhood inspired many to be part of the largest and most successful campaign in Chi Omega’s history.

The AARPettes are a beautiful example of lasting friendship born out of our Fraternity. Their camaraderie, positive attitudes and extraordinary bond have provided support to each other when it mattered most. They truly epitomize the value of lifelong friendship and loyalty to one another through life’s joys and challenges, serving as an inspiration for our younger Sisters of how their Chi Omega friendships can look in 10, 20, or 50 years – thanks AARPettes for the perfect recipe for lifelong friendship … just as Chi Omega’s Founders intended!