Raising money to build a research lab at the University of Minnesota. Knitting hats for babies through Bundles of Love. Playing Bingo at veterans’ homes. These are just some of the initiatives led by members of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), a non-collegiate, international sorority that has a large following in Minnesota.
In the fall of 1960, Golden Valley resident Mona Peck tagged along with a friend to an event hosted by the Minnesota chapter of ESA. Today, after more than 50 years of membership, it’s safe to say that Peck has spent the majority of her life giving to others through events hosted by the international organization. Peck’s friend, St. Louis Park resident Birdie Elkofska, also shares Peck’s dedication to ESA.
“I think ESA is a wonderful organization,” Elkofska, who's been a member of ESA for 45 years, said. “It started way back in 1929 and has continued its high ideals and community assistance all these years.”
Since its founding, ESA, which is now open to both men and women, is responsible for raising $150 million in cash and pledges for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. According to the Minnesota chapter website, members of ESA volunteer 650,000 hours of service every year in an effort to make a difference. By allowing people to connect through the organization, ESA members like Peck and Elkofska make lifelong friendships and serve their communities through volunteering.
“It’s such a gratifying organization to be a part of,” Peck said. “We do so many wonderful things for people.”
Minnesota is home to five ESA chapters and Peck’s chapter has almost 20 members. “Association, education and philanthropy are the three focuses of our group,” Peck said. “The chapters are involved in all kinds of different projects, and they have members of all ages.”
Peck has been at the helm of the Minnesota ESA organization throughout her membership, including taking on state president, chapter president and regional president roles. Peck has donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time over the course of the years, and hopes others will think about joining the organization.
“We really are a well-kept secret,” Peck said. “My chapter is small, but we do so much. We’re always looking for new members.”
If you’re interested in joining ESA, contact the Minnesota chapter here.