In 1953, a group of male college students in the Zeta Kappa Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity at Bowling Green State University decided they needed another organization to help them with projects on campus and in the city of Bowling Green, Ohio. The original thought was to establish another service fraternity at the university. However, after a number of women expressed interest, plans were made to organize a women’s service sorority instead.
Since the objectives of the two organizations were the same: service, leadership and friendship, a similar name was chosen—Omega Phi Alpha. Membership was open to university women who had been Girl Scouts or Camp Fire Girls. (This rule changed in 1958.)
When Omega Phi Alpha first began in 1953, many people were interested in the sorority’s activities. In 1958, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., contacted Bowling Green State University about forming an Omega Phi Alpha chapter. The women of Eastern Michigan’s new Omega Phi Alpha chapter held their first meeting on April 22, 1958. They conducted several service and fundraising activities, and initiated their first pledge class the following fall.
The two groups communicated about the possibility of becoming a national organization, but the concept did not yet fully materialize.
In late 1962, a group of women at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut contacted the group in Ypsilanti about becoming an Omega Phi Alpha chapter. The Bridgeport and Ypsilanti groups continued communication, with the women in Ypsilanti acting as big sisters to the women in Bridgeport for an induction ceremony. The new group was designated Beta Chapter of Omega Phi Alpha. The Ypsilanti group called itself Alpha Chapter.
At Bowling Green, a lack of common ground in the requested projects and background of the members led to a great decline in the chapter. But in September 1964, a few remaining members: Carole Close, Bonnie Widder, Maureen Weldon, Joan DeMuth and others decided there was still a need for Omega Phi Alpha at Bowling Green State University. They met with Dr. Jacqueline E. Timm, the original adviser, to see what could be done to reorganize. In order to obtain active membership, they decided to pledge any interested women in good standing with the university.
The response was tremendous. The Fall 1964 pledge class had 105 women. Sixty-seven gained active status. Officers from the prior group remained in office to give the new members time to become acquainted with the organization.
In the spring of 1966, Bowling Green State University’s dean of women, Fayette Paleness, notified the chapter that they received a letter from the Omega Phi Alpha chapter in Ypsilanti. The letter said the Michigan chapter had combined with the Connecticut chapter and were now a national sorority. They wanted Bowling Green to affiliate with them. Bowling Green’s chapter president, Pam Gabalac, immediately contacted the chapter’s legal adviser and discovered that the chapters in Ypsilanti and Bridgeport were not legally registered as a national sorority. As a result, Omega Phi Alpha in Bowling Green registered its information first, and then asked the other chapters to affiliate.
Thirteen months of hard work and organization began. A national organizing convention was scheduled at Bowling Green in June 1967. At the convention, the three groups discussed ideas and agreed to the formation of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority. They decided that the Bowling Green group would be Alpha Chapter, since it had been in existence the longest and had first filed the proper papers to register the Omega Phi Alpha name nationally. Bridgeport retained the name of Beta Chapter, and Ypsilanti became Gamma Chapter.
The consolidation of the three groups was became a reality on June 15, 1967, the official anniversary date of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority.