This focus is on Danette Gabner Swartley, currently the Harrisburg Alumnae President. Danette makes Tau Lambda proud as she has shown passion in continuing her commitment she made with our sorority. However, she is not only devoted to AOII, she serves on many other committees and projects that make a difference in her community. She shows the true spirit of a leader and for that reason we thought you would all enjoy reading more as we "get to know her"!
Please share a little about yourself: I have a wonderful husband named Jason and three beautiful children. I have a 13 year old son, Luke; an 8 year old son, Aubron; and a 5 year old daughter, Sophia. We live in Mechanicsburg, PA. My hobbies are PTO, PTO, PTO. (Just kidding. It's a running joke in our family because I'm involved with three PTOs and hold multiple positions in each one. Last year I was the president at Aubron's school and it was a huge time commitment.) I also volunteer in our church and with an organization called Operation Wildcat. Operation Wildcat is an organization affiliated with our school district and consists of members from all the schools. We collect donated items and distribute them to families with financial needs that wouldn't otherwise be able to provide these items for their children. I chair Project Bikes and Project Books, but these are only 2 of the 14 different projects.
Family tree - founding sister: Cristie Renner
When did your term as President of Harrisburg Alum begin? What has been your alumnae involvement prior to taking on this position? I was only just inducted as President this spring. I became involved in the Harrisburg Alumnae chapter the summer I graduated from college. That same year I became the Public Relations chair. Later, I moved into Collegiate Relations, then back to Public Relations, and then Vice President. I was the Recruitment Advisor for Tau Lambda for a while before my third child.
Please share what the alumnae chapter does for the community and collegiate chapters: One of my goals is to recruit new members. So many sisters think the Alumnae meetings are going to be like the Collegiate meetings but they really aren't. They're a lot of fun and a little business. Every year we support Arthritis Research and several other philanthropies that change from year to year. This past year we donated items to the Food Bank and the year before that we donated items to a home for teenage or young mothers. We get together with the collegiate chapter every year for Founder's Day and send goody bags to the new members every semester.
What is your favorite AOII memory? Getting my bid. It was so exciting. I just loved all the sisters and couldn't wait to be a part of them.
What is your most meaningful AOII memory? I've always loved Ritual. Every time I hear or read a passage from the Bible that we read during Ritual it feels special because it reminds me of AOII.
What do you remember most about your SHIP days? "Don't remember, didn't happen." Really, it was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the question. On a more serious note, I would have to say all the great times spent with my sisters. I couldn't pick just one time. College is the only time in your life when you get to live with your friends and be with them all the time. That's something special that I've always cherished.
Please share a funny story: I have a couple funny stories about my red Oldsmobile that I drove in college. It was the best car around-most of the time. It was old so it had a solid steel frame. Younger sisters fondly remember being picked up at the CUB during Rush and driven to the house on two wheels around the corners and bottoming out on the potholes down the alley. It was a sturdy car but the first time it gave me trouble was during pledging when we took a road trip to the University of Delaware. It was right after an exchange with Kappa Sig and on our way home we stopped to return our big brother's sweatshirts. About a block away the car started smoking and by the time we got to Kappa Sig smoke was just pouring out of the front of the car. Guess I should have checked the oil before driving to Delaware. This was my first sign to avoid Kappa Sig, but how could I stay away. A few years later I drove that same car into a snow pile at Kappa Sig and had to wait until the snow melted my car out. Yes, I drove it in too deep to dig out. So anyway, the engine was replaced after our Delaware road trip, but on the way to my first formal just a few weeks later, the car broke down again. Go figure. Rose Kasenic and I were stranded with our very cute dates who knew nothing about cars either.
What is your most proud accomplishment since college?Definitely my three children. They are all kind and generous toward others, involved in activities, and hard working. I'm especially proud of my oldest son. He had to be resuscitated after his birth and has dyslexia. I really believe he is the reason I was called to elementary education. I worked with him almost every day from kindergarten through fifth grade. In second grade, we were able to get him into learning support. At that time, after two years of extra work outside of school, he was only in the 16th percentile and more than a year behind in reading. When he was tested for his reading level going into 6th grade he was reading almost two years above grade level. I'm so proud to be raising a child who was so persistent and hard working at something that was so difficult.
What advice can you give sisters about getting involved in their alumnae chapter? Get involved! It's great. The dues are low (usually under $50. Harrisburg's are only $30 a year). The meetings are flexible and never mandatory. It's fun to get together with sisters who have a common bond and spend a little girl time together. We go to restaurants, movies, spas, all kinds of fun "meetings". And best of all, you can get To Dragma again. I loved their article giving advice on how to clean up clutter. It sat on my counter for weeks. To find an alumnae chapter near you, go to: http://www.alphaomicronpi.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Directory/AlumnaeChapters/default.htm
Other comments: I love catching up with everyone. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, Danette... and thanks for all you do.