The former legal secretary and stay-at-home-mom, along with a neighbour, received a letter 50 years ago advertising Beta Sigma Phi, a not-for-profit international organization for women to socialize, embrace cultural opportunities and give back to their community.
“I had no idea what it was but I tried it and here I am 50 years later,” Pickrem told the Truro Daily News on Thursday, as she and other members were setting up for the Truro-based club’s 50th anniversary celebration.
“Fifty years. Wow … what else can I say? That’s amazing,” said Pickrem, 82, of Truro.
One of 10 charter members, Pickrem said the women’s sorority, which still meets in members’ homes, has fulfilled her life in ways she never expected.
“This has everything I want in a sorority: friendship, keeping my mind active and new experiences after all these years,” Pickrem said, adding, “some people think we are just a women’s group and they would be surprised what we have done and do in the community.”
In fact, Pickrem said, the organization has raised close to a half a million dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society through their daffodil campaign; it has supported the Third Place Transition Place, Christmas Index Program, Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign and much more.
“I’ve always been proud to call myself a Beta Sigma Phi,” said Pat Pryor, another charter member.
“There’s a closeness between us … and it just feels funny if you don’t go.”
Pryor, 80, of Truro, got involved in the group after hearing about it from a neighbour.
“I joined because I taught primary and had four kids under six and I needed stimulation outside of children,” Pryor said.
And she has never considered leaving the group. Pryor said the members have endured life’s heartaches and joys together, and have gone the extra mile to bless the community they live in.
“I remember when we used to call all the names in the phonebook under the Truro listing to ask people to contribute to a bake sale fundraiser for the hospital. People don’t realize how much work that was,” recalled Pryor.
Celebrating the local organization’s 50th anniversary is quite a milestone, said Pryor.
“Not many people are in things for 50 years,” she said.
- Beta Sigma Phi started in 1937 in Kansas to bring women together as a reading and social group.
- It was introduced to Truro in 1964 when 10 women embarked on a lifelong journey.
- Membership in Truro has been more than 100 in the past; now there are more than 60 women in five chapters in Truro and Colchester County. Ages of members range from 20s to 80s.
- Examples of community projects the Truro group has participated in: volunteered at Canadian Blood Service clinics, chaperones at the Miss Nova Scotia pageants, assisted with school breakfast programs, the library and hospital, and many other initiatives.
- Original charter members include: Maxine Cameron; Muriel MacLaughlin; Marg Pickrem; Pat Pryor; Betty Carmody; Barb Yeadon; Arlene MacGregor; Marie Burke; Betty Thompkins; Daphne Reardon.