Shawna Boyles Reed (Northern Arizona)
My motherhood journey was only possible due to another Gamma Phi Beta sister, who I met through my alumna years advising in Region 7, offering to be our surrogate. We are now bonded forever, and she and her husband are the Godparents to our twins.
For 12 years, we explored all options available and were in the process of setting up our adoption profile when Eliza offered to carry for us. To this day, she is very humble about it all and thinks everyone would do this if they could, but the reality is she gave us the greatest gift ever. I did not expect when I was 18 and received my Gamma Phi Beta bid, that 25 years later it would be these and only these connections that granted me my most precious gift, my children.
[Sisterhood] definitely resonates very personally for me – more so than just finding my best friends in life – as I would not be a mom today if our Gamma Phi Beta sister Eliza had not given this ultimate gift. We met during our chapter advisor years, but we both hail from the same chapter (just 12 years apart). This has really shown me how special the bond of sisterhood is, which is why I continue to give back to it.
Why do you think it is crucial that younger generations get involved with philanthropic work? How would you encourage a younger Gamma Phi to donate her time, talents and treasures to organizations she believes in?
I always feel it is so important in building character and personal growth to donate your time to causes and efforts in need that resonate with one's values or interest. Giving to causes builds understanding and provides empathy to experience differences outside of one's norms. I feel by providing those values and what an organization's goals/needs are naturally encourages members' involvement. At the core, we attract strong women who are of philanthropic character since it is a value we look for in women during recruitment. It is important to not only see the world from your own experiences, but from those outside your own experiences. We attract women who naturally want to make impacts in their lives and their community, so continuing to support those opportunities, encourages participation.
What do you love most about motherhood?
So many things, from the quiet moments to the loud, when they call you mommy, when they tell you how much they love you, to even calming their tears. It is the biggest challenge yet gives the biggest rewards. I love seeing them (my kids) achieve milestones and develop their personalities. There really is nothing that compares to being a mom, it is a blessing even in the tough days. My favorite time with them right now is at night when we are reading their books and talking about the day's experiences – to see the world through their eyes is so adorable.
How has your role of Gamma Phi Beta sister prepared you for your role as a mom?
LOVE, one of our sisterhood’s Core Values. We support and love our sisters, provide emotional support in fun times as well as serious. The depths of love that you have for your children only magnifies the normal. The love you feel the first time you hold your babies (in my case) does not translate into words – it is explosive, overwhelming and everything!
What Gamma Phi Beta lesson will you pass on to your twins?
Loyalty and strong friendships. I truly learned a lot as an executive leader in my chapter, but what we all ultimately take away from our sisterhood is our forever sisters. People who will always be there for you and you for them. That is what makes our ΓΦΒ sisterhood so special, as I feel we place value on it and support it through our programming.