There is a group in Delta that has initiated friendships that have spanned decades and has benefited the community in a variety of ways. With only 11 members, Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA to its members) is by no means the largest philanthropic organization in Delta, but it is one of the strongest, made possible by its dedicated members.
The sorority is a gathering venue for the handful of women to have a chance to visit with friends and do a good deed for their community.
ESA is an international philanthropic organization that began in 1929 as one woman’s response to World War I and the new roles of women. Now, there are over 1,000 chapters worldwide. Each chapter dedicates itself to raising money for local, national and international charities.
The Delta chapter is Epsilon Zeta. They meet twice a month; their first meeting is a business meeting, and their second is a “fun” meeting, where they do activities, or hear speakers from various civic groups in the area. The group plans to hear a presentation on the Dolphin House at an upcoming meeting.
Their biggest fund raiser is an annual soup and sandwich luncheon held in the fall. Proceeds from the luncheon help fuel their philanthropic activities throughout the following year.
ESA has adopted a family in Delta, and they help out with groceries, gifts during the holidays, and other needs that come up. The chapter has helped this family for several years.
They also try to help out one other community organization with those funds from the luncheon. Over the years, the group has helped Hospice, Delta County Memorial Hospital Foundation, Delta Public Library, Delta High School Grad Night, and others.
“We support the community wherever it’s needed,” said Helen Jurca. She is currently the president of the chapter, and has been a member for 37 years. When she and her family returned to Delta from Illinois, a friend invited her to the sorority. She’s been a part of the group ever since.
“It was a means of meeting people and making friends,” she said, “and a way to give back to the community.”
Most of the money raised by the chapter stays in Delta. However, on an international level, ESA donates money to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. ESA has supported St. Jude’s since 1972 and has helped raise over $120 million for the hospital. Several years ago, the Delta chapter organized a bike race with routes around town, with proceeds benefiting St. Jude’s.
In the past, the group has put on bake sales and book sales, held craft fairs and manned booths at Deltarado Days. Many years ago, the group put on a lunch and fashion show. But member Thelma Starner said, “That was when we were all younger and more full of pep!” Starner has been a member of ESA for 36 years. She was asked to attend a meeting by Jurca.
The chapter also contributes yearly to a disaster relief fund. Members across the world can apply for funding if they experience hard times. Laura Tarr, a member for five years, was assisted by the ESA fund when her house burned down last year.
Tarr’s mother, Sandy, is also a member, and is the longest-running member of the Delta chapter topping Jurca’s 37 years. Tarr and her sister Terri Brown grew up helping Sandy with ESA fund raisers and events, and Tarr can remember helping her mom decorate and cook for events. She and Terri both joined ESA about five years ago.
“It’s a good group of women who know Delta very well,” she said, and added that the group paves the way for women in the community to make great connections with each other.
Twice a year, the Delta chapter meets up with other regional ESA groups, including Cedaredge, Grand Junction and Palisade. The regional chapters discuss issues at the international, national and state levels, and then share projects each chapter had done in the past few months.
“It’s a good philanthropic organization for the community,” Starner said. “We work hard but we have fun.”
Epsilon Zeta is welcoming new members. If anyone is interested in attending an ESA meeting or joining the sorority, Helen Jurca can be contacted at 874-4650 and Thelma Starner can be contacted at 874-3242.