Sorority house moms share House Mom of the Year award; say it’s more than ‘just a job’

Lyndi Stucky | The Collegian Julia Wilkens is hugged by the senior pledge class of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Julia won the 2014 house mom of the year.

For Julia Wilkens, or “Mom Jules,” it was a porch swing set in the Southern-mason style porch that initially solidified her choice to become the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house mom in August.

“I fell in love with the swing on the side porch,” Wilkens said.

Now, less than a year later, she said she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Wilkens was honored as a “House Director of the Year” during Greek Week in April for her work at the sorority.

“I love it all,” she said. “I think when they are willing to share a little bit about themselves is the best.”

Wilkens describes her house mom duties as a mixture between “manager,” when she coordinates things like house repairs and meals, and “mom,” when she listens to worries and problems and attends events and activities.

“I like anything the girls are involved in,” she said. “I like to attend everything.”

The award process required an application from the members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, where chapter members wrote their own stories about their “Mom Jules.”

“When it comes to making you feel valued, or bringing a smile to your face, ‘Mom Jules’ does it best,” one story read. “She is spunky, proactive and quite possibly the very best thing that has every happened in Gamma Alpha.”

Another contributor had trouble describing “just how awesome” “Mom Jules” was in a few sentences.

“Trying to describe ‘Mom Jules’ in a few sentences is completely inadequate,” another sorority woman wrote. “She is a lady who loves whole-heartedly, invests deeply in the things she’s passionate about and gives her everything to Gamma Alpha … one minute (she is) attending an intramural basketball game at 11 p.m. to cheer on ‘her girls’ and … the next minute in the kitchen making supper on a snow day so in-house girls have a warm meal to eat.”

When she received the award, Wilkens said she was touched and amazed.

“I wasn’t even sure if I was doing my job right,” she said. “It was excitement, tears, emotions. It was a very happy moment of my life.”

Wilkens lives in the Kappa house, so she is available if there is an “after hours” emergency. Being a house mom is a special balance, she said.

“It isn’t as bad as people would think (being available 24 hours a day),” she said. “They are adults. They are figuring things out on their own. I just try to keep them calm.”

Wilkens said she doesn’t have any plans to step down as the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house mom, and that she hopes that the women that spend time in the house will leave with something positive because of her time as house mom.

“I hope they learn how to be open minded and kind,” Wilkens said. “I hope they learn to lend a listening ear and how to smile. We get too busy to smile.”

‘More than a job’ at Gamma Phi Beta
For Pam Risley, Gamma Phi Beta sorority’s house mom, her position is more than just a job.

“I basically treat them like (I am) their mom,” Risley said. “After a while, they really feel like a part of your life.”

Risley has been the house mom at Gamma Phi Beta sorority for 10 years. At Greek Week in April, she was one of the two house moms selected honored as “House Director of the Year” for her dedication and work for the sorority.

For Risley, a highlight of the job is watching the 185 chapter members grow while in college, including the 60 that live in the house at 1807 Todd Road.

“I love just watching them grow over the years, seeing how they change,” she said. “They are young, beautiful, talented women.”

Recruitment is another highlight, Risley said.

“I like recruitment a lot, because you get to have the whole house here,” Risley said. “The involvement and meeting everyone is wonderful.”

For Risley, receiving the award was a highlight to her job she said she already enjoys.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “It warmed my heart. I know that I’m loved, but I can’t think of one house mom on campus who wouldn’t deserve it. They are all great.”