Thanks to a donation of $1,000, the STEM garden at the Senior Activity Center will soon include arts and music and become a STEAM garden.

Funds from the local Beta Sigma Phi chapter of the Eta Omega will contribute to the costs of interactive musical equipment.

Jeanee Smiles, Senior Activity Center executive director, said a $30,000 smart flower with a solar panel is on its way to be delivered. More equipment to teach energy conservation will also be purchased next.

“We have different modules, and as we raise the money, that’s what we allocate the funds to. So, we are ready to teach,” Smiles said.

“In the last eight and a half years, since I’ve been the director at the senior center, not only have they supported me and my wild ideas, they’ve always been here with projects we’ve had. For them to step up and think outside of the box with me is heartwarming.”


The national sorority was founded around 1931 after the Great Depression when there was a need for a social, cultural and educational climate that was not available at that time.

Over the years, the sorority has been known to bring peace and prosperity during war times and has been dubbed “The Friendship Organization,” according to its website. In the 21st Century, there are more than 165,000 members.

The local chapter, Eta Omega, formed in Waxahachie in the 1940s, and now consists of 11 members. The organization is comprised of a variety of demographics when it comes to age, religion and backgrounds.

Providing a service is not required by members, but the sorority naturally has a giving spirit.

Since 2005, 56 blood drives have been organized with Carter Blood Care, with 3,152 donors, which equates to over 8,400 blood-saving products whether it be whole blood, plasma or platelets.

The Eta Omega chapter regularly donates gifts to the Senior Activity Center for Bingo night, and crafts gift blankets for the auction benefiting Scottish Rite Hospital.

Beta Sigma Phi member raise more than $3 million for local charities and donate over 20,000 volunteers hours, according to a 2011 edition of Now Magazine.

The group gathers on a monthly basis and hosts a social activity a month as well. If interested in joining, contact Patty Smith at

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450