From the Beginning....
A group of ladies dedicated to the idea of the pursuit of learning and helping others formed the first state council of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Membership Organization in 195l in Little Rock. This council was composed of thirteen chapters located throughout Arkansas: Malvern, Harrison, Ft. Smith, El Dorado, Prescott, Pine Bluff and Little Rock. The first convention was held in Little Rock in May of 1951 and by-laws were adopted, setting the dues at 50 cents per member. There were 23 chapters of ESA in the state and the following year another chapter chose to join the state association.
The Arkansas State Council became a member of the ESA International Council and thus began the legend of history between Arkansas and other states that are members of the International Council. The Arkansas State Council is proud to be the home council of two past International Council Presidents, Martha Beshears of Greenwood in 1991-92 and Charlotte Garrett of Pine Bluff in 1999-2000.
As the number of chapters in Arkansas grew so did the State Council and many projects were added. The first state project adopted by the Council was the Benton Unit of the State Hospital. Throughout the next years, many other state projects were presented and adopted by the chapters and the membership contributed dollars as well as time to various philanthropic agencies throughout the state as well as nationally. An International Disaster Fund was established in 1956 so that members would have access to aide from their sisters throughout the United States.
In 1972, at the International Convention, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was adopted as the International Philanthropic project and since that time the Arkansas State Council has ranked among the top states in raising funds for the hospital. In 1982, ESA International adopted Easter Seals as another philanthropic project and the Arkansas State Council immediately began state projects in support of Easter Seals and has ranked consistently among the top states in donations. Philanthropic donations from around the state consistently total over $600,000 with over 10,000 service hours from the state membership annually.
In 1959, the Arkansas State Council became a member of the Southeastern Regional Council, currently composed of 12 states and proudly boasts as having had 8 SERC presidents: Marty Brown, Hot Springs, Pat Wood, Springdale, Jerry Tschumi, Little Rock, Martha Beshears, Greenwood, Judy Tomlinson, El Dorado, Glenn Gay, Springdale, Ginny Hales, Greenwood and Tammy Akines, Star City.
Throughout the past 64 years, the Arkansas State Council has continued to be a beacon in the world of ESA in leadership, as well as philanthropy, and strives to be among the best in the pursuit of honor, truthfulness and friendliness.