Afternoon Tea Time with Sister Vicki Hurwitz

On April 18, 2010, the National Organization of the Phi Kappa Zeta Sorority sponsored an event open to deaf women in the DC metro area called Afternoon Tea Time in honor of Sister Vicki Hurwitz, the current First Lady of Gallaudet University. The event also recognized an organization known as Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims of Rochester, NY, which was organized by Hurwitz in 1998 and has provided needed services for women and men involved in domestic abuse situations. It was Sister Marilyn Smith of ADWAS in Seattle, Washington, whose weeklong training program was described by Vicki as a "boot camp" led to the program in Rochester. Both Hurwitz and Smith then served on the Deaf Women United Board for four years. The successful event held in the Peikoff Alumni House was planned by a committee chaired by Sister Peg Volksdorf, with Sisters Sarah Burton Doleac , Abby Strauss Drake, Laureen Lynch Ryan, and Agnes Dunn Sutcliffe serving on it. Along with several other sisters assisting, the committee prepared trays of finger sandwiches, tea cakes, scones, and fruits that were delightful to the eye and the palate.

Later in the program, President Emeritus MJ Bienvenu moderated a panel of women from each age group, from college students to the 80s, asking about their role models and the role of afternoon teas in their lives. A signed rendition of a Britney Spears song, Stronger by Sister Renca Dunn was fun to watch.

When asked for a comment, Hurwitz said, "I felt deeply honored by the afternoon's program. It was exciting to see old friends and make new ones as well. I also saw former students I either taught or knew years ago. Wow!"

Even ten years ago when domestic violence was rarely discussed in public, the afternoon tea tradition in the alumni house was testimony to great progress in making the public aware about violence in the home. This clearly has been made possible by deaf women with strong convictions and it was inspiring to see what can be done when we expand and share our knowledge as we work together. The National Organization of the Phi Kappa Zeta Sorority is proud of Sister and First Lady Vicki Hurwitz and all the other women involved in advocacy.