Gretchen's Letter of Love

Dear Sisters,

It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since Alpha Xi Delta formally announced our philanthropic partnership with Autism Speaks. Eleven years of fundraising. Eleven years of advocacy. Eleven years of Sisters united to support one community.

What we have achieved together as a sisterhood is incredible - $11 million raised, countless volunteer hours spent supporting Autism Speaks Walks, and innumerable lives touched by our efforts to increase understanding of autism spectrum disorders. I’d like to think both the autism community and our sisterhood are better and stronger thanks to our collective efforts.

But, our work isn’t done. As I write this letter, 1 in 59 children is still affected by autism. Services for children with autism still remain unaffordable for many families. Resources to help adults with autism achieve their full potential still lag far behind the community’s needs.

And, so we press on in our work. We continue to volunteer. We continue to advocate. We continue to give.

This month, our college Sisters will participate in our annual Letters of Love campaign. Created as a tribute to Autism Speaks Founder Suzanne Wright and her love for hand-written notes of gratitude, Letters of Love has raised almost three million dollars to support Autism Speaks and its mission in the past four years. In crafting their letters, our youngest sisters will be asked to think about philanthropy and service and how those ideas relate to the vows of Initiation we all took. They will articulate the ways in which they are “bringing into living reality the Sisterhood of Women” through their own chapter’s fundraising and advocacy work on behalf of people affected by autism across the world.

I’m writing to encourage you to do the same. Our Founders believed in the twin values of love and service, and we are called upon to realize their vision through our partnership with Autism Speaks. Please join me in supporting our Sisters’ Letters of Love Campaign. You can do this by making a donation on your chapter’s fundraising website or join your chapter’s team and share the love among your family and friends.

The autism community is “powered by love,” and it has been Alpha Xi Delta’s true honor to be a part of that community for the last eleven years. I hope you share my sense of pride in the impact we have made since our partnership launched in 2009. Though there is much work still to be done, I am confident that our Sisters will continue to rise to the occasion. If we continue to advocate, if we continue to give, and if we continue to listen, together we can create a world where every person with autism has the opportunity to realize their potential.

In Xi,

Gretchen Balling DiMarco

Chapter Development Specialist