When the Washington Gamma chapter chartered in 1991, they received a special gift from a brother who helped make their achievement possible. The gavel that they use today at chapter meetings was presented by the chapter’s previous regional director, and it is inscribed with something that he had admonished them to be time after time, “The single most unique experience available at Eastern Washington University.”
In the fall of 1990, a young SigEp colony found itself nearing closure after only a year of operation. After an unsteady beginning, all of the Eastern Washington SEC’s funds were stolen and membership dropped from 30 to 16. Undeterred, the resilient group kept meeting.
When a brand new regional director arrived on site, he saw something special in this group. His visit to Cheney, Wash., was supposed to be a brief stop on his trip from Pullman to Seattle. But when he met with the brothers, he knew they were different.
That first visit that was meant to be just a few hours became a few days, and the ensuing year saw a resilient group of brothers thrive under a supportive leader who was determined to see them succeed. The regional director shared his wisdom and continued to support their efforts throughout the semester. The chapter grew in size and returned to financial stability. They even recruited a volunteer committee from alumni brothers in the area. When the Washington Gamma Chapter received its charter in 1991, and the brothers all agree that it was thanks to their RD’s diligent efforts. He is even pictured in the chapter’s photo composite. He wasn’t just an RD — he was a friend and mentor.
In the years since, the chapter’s former regional director hasn’t left the hearts and minds of the brothers at Eastern Washington. Today, Billy Maddalon, North Carolina State ’90, is a member of the National Board of Directors and a successful businessman, but he has still made time for the chapter he once supported. The chapter’s former regional director returned to Cheney for the chapter’s chartering banquet in 1991 and again for the 10th and 25th chartering anniversaries. And, when the chapter recently faced a difficult time, he was there as an inspiration.
In 2015, poor leadership had left the chapter with a poor culture and on the brink of closure. Drew Henrickson, Eastern Washington ’95, saw an opportunity to build a new culture by developing chapter leaders. He and fellow alum Kory Kelly, Eastern Washington ’97, decided to develop a workshop that would instill ownership and accountability for chapter officers. The workshop offers personality testing and a chance to identify successes and roadblocks that are categorized as “roses and thorns.” Brothers are also asked to create “My Commitment,” consisting of four goals related to GPA, recruitment, improving a “thorn” and a personal area. Brothers write down their commitments and share them with another member for accountability.
The workshop and commitments from brothers have been a motivating factor behind the chapter’s positive culture. At every chapter meeting, brothers share “Commitment Success Stories” and celebrate those who have made strides toward their goals. And each year, brothers vote to select the member who has best kept his commitments to himself and his brothers. But Henrickson wanted to do more to emphasize what it means to diligently pursue your commitments.
Brother Henrickson thought back to the commitment that Billy Maddalon made to a fledgling chapter years ago. Maddalon wasn’t much older than the young brothers in the chapter, but he made a commitment that won’t soon be forgotten. In honor of that commitment, the chapter will present the Billy Maddalon My Commitment Award to the brother they select each year for having kept his commitments. The brother will also receive a scholarship funded by alumni and friends. In keeping with his many years of commitment, Brother Maddalon contributed to help endow the scholarship.
For years to come, this award will motivate the brothers of Eastern Washington to be focused and committed to their goals. Henrickson said, “We want our members to hear about Billy each year. To hear about the type of impact that you can make even at a young age and then to make a commitment to following in his footsteps.”