IROC Convention Memories From Betty McClure and Donna Collins

As we prepare for the 2019 International Convention in Wichita, Kansas, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on conventions of the past.  Betty McClure and I are sharing a few memories with you:

Betty shared that her favorite convention was in Indianapolis, Indiana – June 24-28, 1992.  Betty was serving as International President.  Ferne Palmer Schick and Violet Pettit Tindall were in attendance.  Betty remembered that Ferne and Violet both really wanted to go to Founders’ Park, but they didn’t want to travel there on the bus.  So, Betty and her husband Dick drove them to the park by car.  Upon arrival, Violet and Ferne walked around and lounged a bit on the Founders’ Bench.  They both had a really nice time.

My favorite convention was held in Columbus in 2016.  Gamma Province was the host and I was co-chair of the convention along with Deb Juracich.  Like every Province, we worked more than a year on every detail.  It was hard work and so much fun.  So many Sisters stepped up and did us proud.  Because Deb and I were also on International Council–the day the convention began we relinquished our chair responsibilities to Linda Johnson (Xi Xi Chapter) and Gwen Toth (Mu Beta Chapter).  Wendie McKnelly was our presiding officer that year and the rest of the Council was: Donna Collins, Vice President; Joyce Berkey, Organizer; Jill Pyclik, Service Secretary; Jan Beeker, Editor; Deb Juracich, Historian; and Liz Cochrane, Counselor.  It was such an honor to be elected International President for the 2016-2017 year, and the bonus was my Province–Gamma Province–was the convention host in our hometown!  Wow, what an honor.

What was your favorite International Convention?  Take a moment to leave a comment below and tell us about your convention memories!

Many IROC Sisters had the good fortune to know and spend time with one or more of the Founders.  Betty McClure became close to Violet.  During the 75th Founders’ Day Celebration on August 27, 1995, Violet was the honoree.  Colleen Keller was International President, Robin Pelton was Upsilon Province President, and Betty was a Past International President.  The celebration was held in Fairfield making it easier for Violet to attend.  Colleen presented Violet with her 75th Year Member pin, Robin shared a video, and Betty presented the Candlelight Service.  The following year on January 27, 1996, Violet installed Xi Delta Chapter.  Wow, what wonderful memories!

      This is what we loved about Violet

V   Violet – Vivacious, Vibrant as a spring day

 I    Inspirational, spiritual, a moral leader

O   Openness to ideas and progress

L    Love and friendship ever true

E   Enchanting as a precious pearl

T   Tender and delicate, the Violet we love

      by Delta Nu Chapter, Chico, California

   Violet, Betty, and Ferne

   Betty, Violet, and Ferne

   Violet Pettit Tindal

   Ferne Palmer Schick

   Betty McClure

   Donna Collins

I get by with a little help from my friends by Debbie Henize, International Historian

I am by nature, a very independent person.  I was the first person in my family to go away to college.  I packed my things and moved three hours away and I knew no one.  I bought my first home on my own.  I lived there by myself for 6 years before meeting and marrying my husband.  I suspect that many of you are that way too!  It is not a bad thing but …

Isn’t it funny how there is always a but?  I need to keep myself in check because I don’t have to do it all myself.  I have friends.  Just like you, I have hundreds of Sisters who know more than I do and are willing to help.  

As you probably know, I have been inputting pictures in the new directory and hit a roadblock.  I didn’t ask for help, I just kept trying.  A dear Sister sent me an email with the pictures of her chapter for the directory.  I, of course, thanked her and proceeded to post the pictures to the directory.  In our conversation, she shared with me how she got the pictures.  It was like a light bulb went off.  Why had I not thought of that?  Now I know how to get the pictures from the old directory into the new one.  If I had only asked for help, I would have saved a great deal of time.

I keep learning more and more about our wonderful organization.  Even more important are the people I am getting to know and depend upon.  We all need each other and there are many more lovely women out there who need us as much as we need them.  

Practice Mindfulness by Robin Pelton, International President

As I catch up on my tasks as President, try to get ahead a bit on those deadlines coming up, keep up with my job/kiddos, try to spend time with my husband, try to relax a little, focus on better health habits, etc., I realize that sometimes I feel very frazzled.  Trying to make everyone and myself happy is a hard task.

So, in light of this, I am trying to practice “mindfulness”– a big buzzword in education and the world in general right now.  The dictionary says it is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”  I think the biggest part of this is being aware of the present moment—enjoying and accepting what is happening RIGHT NOW.

To be honest, I have always tried to be aware of the present.  When I raised my children, I kept reminding myself to enjoy EVERY moment because I didn’t want to regret what I had when it was gone. 

So these days, I am trying to keep all of my life in perspective and enjoy the busy-ness. Because after it is gone, I know I will feel a sense of loss and wonder how I did it all.  Enjoy the moment. Remember—the Present is a gift!

Welcome To SPG Anna Shipley-From Linda Bullington, International Organizer

A suggestion came from our Advisory Committee to have the International Officers reach out to new members and welcome them into sorority.  What a nice idea and one easily accomplished!  We receive the names of new Sisters who have joined recently from our International President, Robin Pelton. 

If it were me, as a new person, I would have two thoughts on an International Officer reaching out to me, and I’m not sure which would come first…one is- how nice, an Int’l Officer welcoming me into SPG, the other is…I don’t even know this person, what could we possibly have to talk about, I don’t want to talk to a stranger.

So far, I have been assigned 5 new Sisters to contact.  Multiply that by 8 Officers and that’s a lot of welcoming!  Yea us for growing SPG!

Recently I arranged to contact Anna Shipley, to welcome her.  In responding to my email to set up a call time, Anna sent an insightful, thoughtful response.  After reading it I felt like I knew her and calling was that much easier, ‘cuz it’s easy to talk to a Sister you know.  Below is her response with my thoughts following in parenthesis. 

Anna– I would be happy to speak with you.  I am in the Eastern Time Zone, so we have a three-hour difference.  How about Wednesday at noon for me and 9 AM for you in WA?  (9 AM?! Yikes, I guess I’ll have to set my alarm since I’m a night owl.)

Anna– Are you wondering about anything in particular?  (No, I’d just like to welcome you into SPG and offer my help if you have questions.)

Anna I don’t want to waste your time hemming and hawing as I think of my answer.  (I like this Sister already.  One short, sweet phone call, and mission accomplished!)

Anna– I took the liberty to write out my thoughts about becoming a part of SPG.  I do my best thinking on screen with a delete key.  (I like the way Anna thinks!  That delete key gives us all the option to reconsider the way we word things.  Once words are out, it’s too late to change them.)

Anna– At 62, my chances for a 20-year pin are so-so and the 50-year pin is a solid no.  (Ya never know, you might see 112.)

Anna– I do not aspire to an office in the Chapter.  (Hopefully, that will change.) 

Anna– I am the farthest away from the sorority core, it takes about 40 minutes to get to the meetings.  I have a lovely home, but I will never host a social meeting because of the distance.  (I drive 45 minutes to my Chapter meeting so it is far for me too, but I still get my Chapter to my home once in a while.  Offer to host a birthday or Christmas party- that’ll get them to come your way.) 

Anna– The Chapter is comprised mostly of women who have been members for decades, were high school classmates, are related or have lived in the same area for most of their lives.  So why join?  (For the sisterhood!  Anna is one sharp cookie for sure, did you notice that she has a WHY!)  

AnnaI joined, because I met a member of SPG in 1995 who is still very active, Sharon M.  We became good friends.  She and I had the same position in different counties.  We were the Directors for our counties’ recycling programs.  We traveled together to meetings and conferences and did things socially.  I even attended a Province convention with her around 1997!  Sharon went to the sorority functions and I swam, shopped and had a relaxing weekend.  (Nice job Sharon M!  Way to work SPG, take ‘em to fun things and slowly reel them in!  Anna- we swim, shop and relax while attending meetings- you’ll see.)

Anna– Sharon asked me early into our friendship about my interest in SPG.  (Good job Sharon.  Offer her the opportunity, then sit back and wait for her to let you know when the time is right for her.) 

Anna– I was interested but I had a work conflict with the Chapter business meeting, every month.  (Give it time, keep us in mind.)

Anna– In the years since then, my job ended, I remarried and had to convince my new husband that the sorority would be good for me and thus for us as a couple.  (Job ended-retirement or downsized?  Remarried…I have two thoughts here-Yea for love or didn’t you learn from the first time?!)

Anna– He wasn’t convinced for a while, that he was happy for me to join a ladies only organization.  (Um… not his decision to make.  Can you tell I’m single?)

Anna-His health was not good for several years and I didn’t want to commit to a group if I wouldn’t be able to participate fully.  (Sorry to hear his health was bad.  What a good wife- putting your man first.  Just remember to take care of you while caring for him.  Sorority friends are good for your soul!)

AnnaI joined SPG because I have been acquainted with the members of the Chapter for 20 years due to my friendship with Sharon.  (Her Why again!)

Anna– I still do not know all the ladies (Sisters) yet, but over the years I met them in various places.  They were always kind and gracious to me.  (Good job Chapter Sisters, way to be friendly!)

Anna– Many remembered me from previous encounters.  (When we SPG members have a potentially interested Sister, we just keep reelin’ them in till we snag ‘em!  Good things take time.) 

Anna– These ladies (Sisters) seem to be the kind of ladies (Sisters) that a person would want to have as friends.  (Yes, we are!)    

Anna– Finally, I joined to make new friends.  This is the most important reason and it is based on the first two reasons.  Having a group of ladies who are happy to see you twice a month Is priceless.  (YES IT IS!)

Anna– Getting out with a group of women twice a month is also wonderful.  (YES IT IS!)

Anna– The idea that some of the women might become personal friends is more than I hope for.  (They definitely will!  Give it time.)  

Anna– The opportunity to go to conventions is great and Sharon talks about the wonderful time she has, but I don’t think I will be able to attend much due to the cost.  (Hopefully, an International Convention will happen near enough to you to allow you to go.  It will charge your sorority battery and you’ll meet Sisters from around the country and Canada who will become your Sister friends too!)

Anna– I hope to go to St. Louis for the 100th anniversary.  (Yea!  That’ll be a grand celebration for sure!  100 years young is quite an accomplishment!) 

Anna– Making new friends is terribly hard for me.  (Chapter Sisters make it easier.  Don’t force things to happen or get depressed.  Good things take time and they will happen when it’s right.)

Anna– This age of virtual communication makes making friends face to face even harder.  (Our Virtual Chapter Sisters would beg to differ on this point but they would do so lovingly.)   

Anna– I won’t go into detail about the efforts I’ve made in past years to find a friendship niche for my husband and I, but I’ve tried a variety of things.  We have momentary success, but it doesn’t last.  Neither of us are native to the rural area where we live, roots are important here.  Without history, we are different enough, to not fit into the local mold.  Our circumstances left both my husband and I with few ties to family or friends.  We’d love to have a couples group to socialize with, go on day trips, eat out, but it may not be in our cards.  (SPG has many supportive husbands- we call them our Mister SPGs.  Give your Chapter friendships time to bloom and perhaps friendships between your husbands will too!)  

Anna– My only negative in joining SPG is that I have a group and my husband does not.  That makes me a little sad.  (Perhaps try to find a men’s organization for him- Elks or Moose, get him a hobby with a club.  Just keep going to sorority meetings for you!)

Anna-I feel fortunate to be able to join Sigma Phi Gamma.  I am happy to be a part of a group who holds friendship in high regard and one that values service to others.  (And we’re happy to have you Anna!) 

AnnaSister love going out to you, (I feel the love!)

Anna 

LindaWhat a great, unsolicited, email Anna!  Best wishes for years of feeling the SPG love!  I look forward to seeing you in St. Louis!  And wishes for success in finding a niche for your husband too!

What sisterhood means to me, by Linda Bullington, International Organizer

I woke this morning to sunshine!  Sunshine warms my soul, lifts my spirit and makes me want to be outside enjoying nature.  But let’s be real, I’m not a morning person…so if it’s still sunny and nice at noon when I start my day, I’ll go out then.  I’ll enjoy the sun and lack of rain, by mowing my continually growing grass.  I’ll wait for the frog to hop out of my path to safety.  I’ll marvel at the bright color of the green grass and the yellow dandelions-darn flowers-some have already turned white with seeds, then I’ll mow them down!  I’ll go through my morning, retired person ritual of waking gradually.  I move from the warmth and comfort of my bed to the comfort of my couch where I check my phone to see what has changed while I slept. 

Friends and family have taken their turn in our game of Words with Friends, so now it’s my turn to play a word.  Emails have come in-one has me shopping for a specific item for our upcoming sorority Convention!  Next, I go to Facebook.  One sorority Sister shares a bright cheery picture of colorful flowers and wishes us a great day- I thank her for the pretty picture.  One Sister shares photos of her great-grandkids having an Easter egg hunt at her farm-I can feel the family love through her snapshots.  One Sister shares that she is visiting her 5-month-old granddaughter she only gets to see occasionally because of distance-I tell her to enjoy her time together because grandkids grow so quickly.  Today is one of my Chapter Sister’s birthday, I send her a wish for a great special day!  These posts I read, warm my soul with the love of friendship and sisterhood we share, just as the sunny day does!

I continue scrolling through my FaceBook page, reading other posts, I come to one posted just 2 minutes ago.  It’s from a Sister whose husband is in an advancing stage of dementia.  Her post moves me to tears.  This Sister shares her heartbreak of losing the man she loves so dearly.  She has valiantly tried to keep him at home, to love him in sickness and health as she pledged on the day of her marriage.  But things have become impossible for her to handle on her own and she has had to arrange for him to move into a care facility.  I can feel the sadness and pain this decision has caused my Sister.  I send her an electronic hug.  It doesn’t seem enough.  I reach out to her by phone.  My intent is to cheer her up, but I hear the sadness in her voice and I join her in tears.  I hope I’m helping with the words of support I offer, she lives across the country, or I’d go hug her in person because the phone hug doesn’t seem enough either.  The days that follow will be hard for my Sister and her husband as they adjust to the newness of their situation.  Know that I will be thinking of you until I see you in Wichita where I can hug you in person dear Sister! 

Sorority has given me an extended family and electronic technology allows us to stay in touch more frequently than in days of the past.  Before technology, I would see just a few of my Chapter Sisters outside of sorority, but mostly just a couple of times a month.  I would see my Sisters from other Chapters in the area occasionally- at socials or Roundtables and then at Province.  I would see my Province Sisters in other states less often, due to distance.  I would see my Sisters who live in other states across the country even less, usually just once a year at our International Convention.  Now, thanks to technology, I can stay in touch with my Sisters much easier and more often.  We share details of our days and engage in games together to stay connected.  I look forward to seeing what my Sisters post as a way to stay in touch until we are together.  I am grateful for my sorority Sisters and the friendship and sisterhood we share, that being a member of SPG has given me! 

IN LOVING MEMORY OF BEVERLY ROBBINS, Tributes From Her Nu Epsilon Chapter Sisters

IN LOVING MEMORY OF BEVERLY ROBBINS

March 4, 1934 – January 8, 2019

Karen Barnett: Losing our Sister Bev Robbins has been difficult for all of us.  She was an inspiration to all who knew her.  A perfect example of a Sorority Sister.  She touched many lives and brought joy and happiness to all who knew her.  I will never forget the great times we had together.  I know she is looking down on all of us with a smile and enjoying time with Sisters that we have lost in the past.

Jill Colbert: One of my fondest memories of Bev Robbins is at the cabin in Brown County.  This particular year Connie & I slept on the hide a bed and Bev on the couch because she had to get up early to leave Sunday morning & didn’t want to disturb anyone, but she didn’t want to miss her Colts game.  She loved the Colts.

Beverly Collignon: Bev was my neighbor for over 50 years, she brought me into sorority.  We had unique adventures together.  I will just say that we had an unspeakable experience in Nashville, TN.  I sure will miss her. 

Gail Cowan:  I remember when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I went to talk to Bev, and she was so reassuring that all would be ok.  I have been cancer free for nine years.  So thankful she was so reassuring when I needed it!

Joan Eastham: So many memories.  Bev was, without a doubt, the most loved member of our Chapter.  Our matriarch, our counselor, and adviser, but most of all, our friend.  One of my special treasures is the afghan she made when I was her secret Sister.  I know she was so upset when she could no longer make them for our newer members.  Another fond memory was our discovery that we were both going to the New Orleans Jazz Fest.  We met there for several years and occasionally could get our husbands to change their routines so we could have dinner together.  Until her health began to fail, she was the happiest, most positive person I’ve had the honor of calling my friend.

Connie Fraley:  All my memories of Bev are very sweet.  She was such a loving woman and Sister.  Our last conversation she gave me great advice to do everything, live my life to the fullest.  Any chance I got to get up and go somewhere, do it.  Great advice and that’s how I’m going to continue living always up to do something. 

Evelyn Higgins: Bev and I spent many conventions as roommates.  Bev was always one for having a good time, and she loved her ice cream.  Sometimes we walked for blocks to make sure she got her ice cream “fix” for the day.  At one convention (maybe Sacramento?) she and I went on the post-convention trip to Napa Valley as we wanted to see some wineries.  One of those wineries, Sterling Wineries, was on top of a mountain, and the only way we could get there was on a tram.  Bev didn’t like heights and I didn’t mind them, so I kept looking out trying to tell her how beautiful it was, and she kept closing her eyes and telling me to hush.  We took another tram up a mountain in Palm Springs.  We had dinner on top of the mountain while waiting for the city lights to come on below.  

We had some fun times on our drive to Lake Tahoe with Sandy and Pat.  We had such a great time together that we decided to form a bowling team, and we were known as the “Chilly Willys” where we won a trophy for First Place, Second Division.  We had a lot of fun.  We came upon an old store with an outside “facility” and Pat said she couldn’t wait any longer, so she was going to use the “facility”.  When she opened the door, there sat a man, pants to his ankles, and she yelled “Get in the car!  Let’s go.”  She was safe until we arrived at a safe place.  Whenever the two Bevs were with us, they couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble.  For instance, the night they rang Joan’s and my room and got us up and wanted me to go out into the hall to see if I could tell what was going on in the room next to them.  You’ll have to ask Bev C. about that.  Bev loved her Sorority and all her Sisters, especially those in Nu Epsilon.  She will surely be missed.

Judy Monroe:  Beverly Robbins was a great friend and Sorority Sister.  She will be missed.

Sandy Morris: I first met Beverly at Lambda Province.  I had not been in Sorority very long and my husband’s job took us to Indianapolis.  She was so excited to get a new member!  She made me feel at home immediately, which I really needed at the time.  Having just moved away from family and going from working full time to staying at home with a 2-year-old, Sorority became MY escape.  Beverly was a leader in our Chapter and as our Chapter grew, we decided we had enough for two Chapters, so we split, and she was “Girl Responsible” for Nu Epsilon Chapter.  I remember when Bev decided to run for International Office.  She asked for help in creating her skit.  She was such a good sport, we came up with an idea and she went along, no matter how crazy it was, she pulled it off brilliantly!  I mean seriously, how many Sorority Sisters do you know who would dress up in a bird/owl costume and sit in a nest with a gummy worm hanging out of their mouth?  We made poodle skirts for one skit and played blow up instruments, she rocked it!  She was always ready to go!  Even the time we took her driving through the mountains around Lake Tahoe and there was not much of a guardrail, driving close to the edge on her side was terrifying to her, but she hung in there!  We went to Las Vegas on the way to a convention and she walked and walked even though we thought it was only two blocks, it ended up being about two miles!  Bev had a great sense of humor, she could pull off a one-liner, and not crack a smile!  Priceless!  Bev was always there, she was a friend, a confidant, a Sister, a mom, whatever we needed.  To say she will be missed does not even begin to express how we feel.   

Jane Rice: One of my best memories of BR is hanging out with her on her front porch.  A couple of months after I moved next door to her, I was outdoors with my dog, Roxie.  Bev asked me to come over, so Roxie and I started going over to sit on her swing to visit.  We’d sit there talking about everything and anything while Roxie would bark at the neighbor’s kids.  Eventually, Bev started talking to me about sorority.  To make a long story short, BR is the reason that I am an SPG member.

Becky Stevens: I wanted to give a couple of my most favorite memories of Bev.  My first memory is of my very first social I went to was at her house and we played Bunco.  My other one which is the last time the Colts missed the playoffs I had to go by her house for something after the game and she had been at the game.  My granddaughters had told me my grandson Luke was in the corner crying.  When I stopped by her house she had just got home, and I said Bev were you crying at the game?  She said, “No, but I really felt like it.”  I will really miss her as I know most all of you will.  Bev was a great lady.

I really miss Bev.  Even though you don’t see someone you always think they’re just a phone call or a trip away.  She always loved to talk to my husband, Kurt, about The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless.  I just see Bev and Kurt in heaven and chatting away.  I know Ed is going to miss her too.  I hope he realizes someday he will see her soon.  I know I’m looking forward to seeing Bev and Kurt.

Pat Wheeler:  Beverly Robbins was always my “go to” lady, at any time she was there to listen and help.  Bev and I were late night owls so we would often call each other while the rest of the world slept.  I have so many memories – both funny and loving.

Many years ago, I had to have some medical tests. Me being a worrier; was doing just that.  I called her and we talked.  She calmed me down.  The next day I was sitting out back when the doorbell rang.  It was Bev – she didn’t want me to be alone when I got the results of the tests.  I had no idea she planned to do that.  Bottom line all was fine, and we had a lovely afternoon.

A funny story comes to mind from our trip to International Convention in Portland, OR.  We were visiting Cape Mears Lighthouse.  The sidewalks were full of huge slugs!!  We had to watch our step!!  I was at a gift store and found a can of slugs.  I started laughing and knew I needed to share that with Bev.  Here is a picture of her opening them!!

Beverly was a lady that I respected, loved and laughed with.  Not only was she a dear sorority sister, we bowled on a team together (The Chilly Willys – another story), we were in a euchre club, we went on a cruise with a group of friends and we enjoyed adventures.   I will miss her so much, but I thank God for giving me the honor to share part of her journey through life.  Until we meet again…

Kim Wolford: I have so many fond memories of Bev.  Beverly came to North Carolina for a PSI Province meeting (no longer exists) about one year after I moved to Charlotte, NC.  Beverly was so glad I was contacted by Allison Clark, Past International President, 1978 – 1979 and active in Sorority in NC.  I didn’t know many people in sorority in NC yet, so it was nice to have a couple of familiar faces.  She also was one to encourage me to run for a PSI Province office only three years after I joined sorority.  Thanks to my fan club (BR, Mary Lou Bernard, Pat Thornton, Joanie Dahl) I held most PSI Province offices, then came back to Lambda Province and held the office of Province Organizer.

One of my favorite memories is when I was able to host a social at my Mom’s (Evelyn Higgins).  I flew home and we were going to have a blind wine tasting.  I had all North Carolina wines and had them covered so the ladies couldn’t read the bottles.  We fixed a London Broil on the grill and had some other finger food to go with it.  On to the wine tasting, there was a red wine called Christmas in Dixie that Bev really liked.  I ended up calling the winery, Southern Charm, three times one year to order more cases to be sent to Indy.  I think BR had six of those cases alone…she did share with Ann and Kay because they liked it too 😊.  I had to check with Bev every year after that to see how many cases of Christmas in Dixie she wanted that year.  Southern Charm really liked Nu Epsilon and especially Bev for about five years.   

A safety reminder, from the Office of the International Organizer

My eyes are open and I’m listening for something… but why? it’s still dark out.  What time is it? 3:15!  Why am I awake?  Just then a noise happens, oh, that’s why, a smoke alarm battery has died.  Why do they always expire in the middle of the night?!  Maybe it’s just a fluke, perhaps there was a blip in the electrical power that caused it to beep and it won’t go off again.  I lay there hoping for silence…but no…there it goes again.

I have to act.  I get up to figure out which smoke alarm it is- the office one.  Ok, so now I have to go downstairs for the ladder, to be able to reach it.   Darn it, the ladder is heavy and I really don’t want to be doing this right now, but I have to. 

It crosses my mind if I had a husband this would be his job.  I could still be in my warm bed instead of in the garage getting a ladder.  But just as quickly another thought pops into my head- no, most husbands have to be the Alpha and I am the Alpha in this house, so just get the ladder and get the job done! 

I see a chair and decided using it would allow me to reach the smoke alarm and remove the dead battery.  The chair is lighter and easier than hauling the ladder upstairs so I choose the chair instead.  Up the stairs with the chair I go.  

Stand on the chair, cover off, battery out, new battery in, push the test button to be certain the battery is good, 1 loud beep then, ah, blessed silence!  The new battery is good, my home is guarded once more.  Back to bed. Note to self- test batteries of other smoke alarms tomorrow.

According to the US Fire Admin., smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and replaced once or twice a year.  They suggest doing it when the clocks change, spring forward- fall back. That would work unless you are in an area that doesn’t use that time adjustment.  If you do, you will have to set another time that can be easily automatic for you.  Perhaps if I followed a schedule, I wouldn’t be up in the middle of the night doing this task.

There are two types of smoke alarms, battery-powered and hard-wired.  Both types need to be tested regularly.  Test monthly and change the batteries twice a year.  While you’re up there, check for dust and clear it if you see any.  At 10 years, replace the whole thing, with a new smoke alarm.

If you have a husband, you can put this chore on his honey-do list, but from what I hear, actually getting him to do it may be another thing.  So, you may want to take on this chore yourself to be certain it gets done!  Safety of yourself and your family is of the utmost importance, so as the saying goes- JUST DO IT!

Be safe my sisters!

Getting to Know one of our SPG Sisters by Mary Freeman, Theta Pi Chapter Editor

I would like to introduce to you Joan Wenrick, a 71-year SPG member of Theta Pi Chapter, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Questions:

1. When were you initiated into SPG?

Answer: April 5, 1948

2. What is your most cherished or favorite story from a Province or International Convention?

 First Answer:  I was blessed to know for 10-15 years all 5 Founders while attending the Conventions when they were alive.  I was really close to Violet Pettit Tindall who was at the 25-year anniversary of SPG when the Convention was in North Carolina. While at the NC Convention I was invited into Violet’s home when she lived there during the Convention.  I also was close to Ferne Palmer Shick’s daughter, Joan, who was in our Theta PI, Indianapolis Chapter. 

Second Answer: When I went to Convention held in California in 1948-49, our Chapter hired a train car to have us travel to and from Convention that year.  We made many side trips while on that trip to Convention.  One was to be able to go all the way down into the Grand Canyon.  We were able to see the Southwest places that I longed to see all while with my Sisters in tow.  International Conventions are eye-openers especially to new members as you get a real feel for what they do on the International level of our Sorority.  Plus you get to see Sisters you have not seen in a year.  You also get to make new friendships as well as rekindle the old ones while at International Convention. 

3. How did you come to join the Sorority?

Answer: Helen Ritter, our own Kathy Anderson’s mother.  Two of Helen’s sisters were already in Sorority at the time.  There were five women that joined with me in 1948.

4. What is your most cherished memory or story with your Sorority Chapter Sisters?

Answer: Watching Helen Ritter marry and seeing all 7 of her children grow up and get married themselves.  I have a very close relationship and currently retain my friendship with each of her children.

5. What do you see for the future going into the 100 years of Sorority?

Answer: Being the age I am -keeping up with technology.  I still like my paper copies of the Lingo and Buddie.  I realize we need to live with technology in order to get the new members into our Sorority.

 

Strengthening Skills of the International, Province, and Chapter Organizers and Area Expansion Team for Optimum Impact

Shari Pash, Membership Strategist for Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, delivered her third webinar focused on membership retention and growth on March 23rd.  It was an hour packed with great information, strategies, tips, and encouragement.  To follow is my recap – if you couldn’t be on the webinar these notes might inspire you to watch the recording on the member side of the SPG website!

Let’s start with Why.  Simon Sinek a well-known author, business leader, and motivator helps us understand the WHY of what we do.  Everything we are doing to work on our recruiting and membership skills is part of discovering the Why of SPG.  It can be membership recruitment, community service, friendship, and so much more.

Next Shari talked about how the International and Province Organizers can help the Chapters they are partnering with.  She urged us to adapt the information she was sharing in our own roles – you don’t have to be an Organizer to use this information.

Receiving and Responding to Leads: How do our leads want to be communicated with – text, email, letters, phone calls?  How do we as key communicators work with potential members when their communication style may not be our most comfortable way to communicate?  We can be brave and try new things, or we can enlist help.  Shari stressed that membership development is not just the Organizer’s job.  Find that person in your Chapter that loves to text (or email, or write letters) and let her be the key contact with those who like to text (or email, or receive letters).  The added benefit of teaming up with a Sister in your Chapter is more interaction between the members, helps grow our friendships. 

How do you as a Province or International Organizer help your Chapters?  Let’s encourage members to recruit, it is our role to encourage all members to be in recruitment mode.  It is a layered process – International encourages AEX Team and Province and Chapter Organizers, Province Organizers encourage Chapter Organizers, Chapter Organizers encourage members.  This encouragement includes providing recruitment tools and learning their stories about why SPG is important to each of us.  In the coming months, new membership development tools will be produced that will help us all.  In the meantime, use the tools we have – membership brochure, Organizers’ handbook, etc.

Building relationships is key.  And remember, not all relationship building is in the form of face-to-face engagement.  We live in a digital world – maybe building relationships is digital and in-person.  What works for each of us and our personal style will allow us to be the most productive, however Shari encouraged us to try new things!  And remember, it’s not how WE want things to happen, it’s about that potential new member – how does SHE prefer to engage!

Share your experiences with your SPG Sisters: Let everyone know that in SPG we are all recruiters of members.  We need to help all members know that they have the skills to carry out the same activities as International, Province, and Chapter Organizers and AEX Team members.  We need to model what others can do.  Shari suggests we start with storytelling – a brief story, very succinct. Who are the storytellers in our Chapters and Provinces?  Let them help us develop the stories until we get comfortable doing it on our own.

Ratio of numbers: Define our prospects.  Do prospects exist in groups you are already exposed to or a member of organizations like the PTA, Chamber of Commerce, Church organizations, etc.  Where are the prospects?  Do we have membership goals at the Chapter, Province, and International levels for new members?  Setting goals helps us reach towards where we want to go … to work hard, and to partner to meet our goals.

Time Blocking – Battle Distractions.  It is a commitment of time to do this work for membership growth, it’s not hit or miss or by chance.  Whatever the time commitment is to your work as an Organizer you must block time in your calendars so that you are focused and working on membership.  Don’t be distracted, make a commitment to Organizer work every week.

Build a bunker around your ‘membership time.’  Set aside time and space to focus on the tasks at hand.  When preparing for your membership work time, get all your provisions together (coffee, laptop, list of leads, note pad, ink pen).  Next is to focus without interruption by your email dinger, phone, Facebook.  Shari described this as ‘sweeping for mines’ getting all of the distractions out of the way.  Don’t forget, share what you’re doing with others in your home or the space you’ve set aside for your membership time – ask for support so that you won’t be distracted during your set aside time.  Let someone else walk the dog, answer the door, etc.  You will be so much more productive when you’re focused.

The SPG strategic plan is a tool for all of us to use and helps us stay focused.  Last year the strategic plan was released at convention, it is your tool and guide for how we go and grow.  It is key to read, know, and learn about the framework of the strategic plan so that you can discover SPG’s overall framework for the future.  Some of the key words Shari found that impressed her were: energy, future, sustainable.  The strategic plan is a great tool for Organizers and AEX Team members.  She urged everyone to read the plan and find ways to use some of the strategies to do our work as we seek to retain and recruit members.  Key goals of the strategic plan are membership, meetings, governance, awards, etc.  The strategic plan demonstrates a thought-out process for the future of SPG.

Educate yourself so you can educate members about the SPG mission, vision, and strategic plan.

Shari talked about a SAMPLE DISCOVERY TOOL to use that will be refined based on feedback from the webinar.  Relational learning is important, especially for Organizers, AEX Team, and leaders.  How do our potential new members spend their time, what causes are they interested in, what are their extra-curricular activities, how do they see family as a priority?  What motivates our members and potential members?  Knowing these things will help us find the connections we need to be authentically interested in potential members – and the potential members will be more interested in SPG when they realize how sincere we are about getting to know them.  When sharing information about SPG, are the individuals you are speaking (or writing) with interested, asking questions, do you see their passion for wanting to be part of something wonderful like SPG?  The sample discovery tool can help us organize questions with potential members.  No scripts, but getting comfortable with the best way to connect.

We want to make sure the people we are approaching are good fits for our organizational culture, especially at the Chapter level.  It is important that people are comfortable with our mission, activities, and ideals or it will result in a lot of recruitment, Pledging, Membership – only to lose that person because we aren’t who they thought we were – and they aren’t who we’d hoped for.

SHARING INFORMATION STORYTELLING: Going back to the why, storytelling is key in the recruitment efforts, making it real.  Sharing what’s in it for a member is so important.  Sharing stories across Chapters and Provinces – encouraging the heart and motivation for member recruitment and retention will help everyone feel encouraged and responsible for membership growth.  And, my best guess is that it will make all of us more engaged members.

SPG BENEFIT STATEMENTS: Shari shared that there is going to be a tool we’ll create – with benefit statements.  The document will help us better articulate our sisterhood, and the positive difference we are making in our communities – all while staying focused on the SPG mission.  Maybe there is a lady in your Chapter who is more reserved and may need some encouragement – and maybe having the SPG benefit statements available might help her feel more comfortable in the effort to recruit her friends and associates.

OBJECTIONS: We know there are ladies who throw up objections when we approach them about SPG.  Shari asked the group what objections they get from the ladies we approach?  What prevents ladies that have an interest, resist becoming a Pledge?  Once they are interested, what stops them from becoming a member?

Objections: time, work, family obligations, children/child care, transportation, etc.

Shari is developing responses to these common objections so that we are able to have intentional recruitment strategies that also address objections.

FOLLOW UP: The Social Secretary is a great right-hand worker with the Organizer.  This can become a mentorship role – how can the Organizers and AEX Team work with the Social Secretaries in our Chapters?  How can the Social Secretary help with follow-up to leads – notes, drop off a small SPG token, etc?  Remember, this is a way for Organizers to engage with other ladies in the Chapter to help.

Shari reminded all of us involved in follow up to block time for the tasks we need to do.  Good intentions often get lost and before you know it days, weeks, and even months slip by.

Timeliness is key.  If we aren’t on top of follow up with the ladies we are approaching they may become less interested or feel like we’re not really interested in them if we don’t stay in contact. 

Continuing conversations and documenting information so that everyone’s on the same page is important – we don’t want to be walking all over each other’s efforts.  And we want to be organized.  Next steps must always be confirmed, remember to block time. 

RELEVANT VOICE MAILS and EMAILS: Our communications must be short and sweet.  Long drawn out emails are a turn off.  Remember our messaging must be succinct.  A potential member may be reading information on their phone and tablet – too much is just too much.

Persuasive language is key.  Shari will be working with the Advisory Committee to introduce some persuasive language that can be used to stay on message and show potential members the value of SPG.

Shari suggests when calling on a potential member we do so as a peer to make it more comfortable than wearing an ‘official hat’ for SPG – being yourself and being natural is best.

We must be committed to helping potential members experience a strong value for their new commitment/membership in SPG.

Connectivity, introductions, events, and engagement are key to engaging potential members.  Remember sharing your personal story and benefits from being a part of SPG will go a long way.  Take on the role of a hostess, for instance you might say to someone you’ve invited to an SPG meeting or event: “At our upcoming meeting/social, I’ll meet you at the door.”  You become the SPG welcome-wagon.

AEX/ORGANIZER: AEX Team members were encouraged to look at their structure and schedule time with organizers in their assigned area – what does this look like now, are you even doing it?  How are AEX Team members working to stay connected with Province Organizers?  Information sharing is important.  Monthly phone meetings or Zoom meetings will be beneficial to staying focused on the work to be done in each AEX Team member’s area.  Remember having membership goals is important – something to strive for.  Make it fun. 

Staying connected by email, social media, or whatever means that works is very important.  Sharing information that is timely and relevant keeps people engaged.  All the ways we communicate must be timely.

Help each other be accountable for goals – determine your goals together as the AEX Team, Organizers, International Council – start with the strategic plan.  Then hold each other accountable.  A support system for growth is key to stay energized and motivated. 

I’VE JOINED NOW WHAT?  How are we doing with why a lady joined?  Now what?  How do we help them engage?  We can develop a plan – 30, 60, 90 days – that includes small bite-size activities (ex. In the first 30 days: attend a business meeting, participate in a social, read the Chapter bylaws, read the SPG strategic plan).  A tool is being developed around a framework that will give new members a road map to learning and growing in sorority.  The tool can be printed on paper, a PDF that is emailable, online, etc.  Input is welcome for key points in the development of on-boarding new members.

MEMBER TO MEMBER ENGAGEMENT: A sample document was shared that can be used to develop a profile for each potential member.  It can help us stay organized and work together to get to know a potential member, it is also an accountability measure among those ladies sharing the responsibility of communication and encouraging someone to join SPG.  Creating a hospitable culture of member recruitment is important.

SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT: There is so much we can do with social media.  And, there are Chapters who do not want to use social media, of course they won’t or don’t have to use it.  Shari strongly suggested that every Chapter consider adding social media as one element of your recruitment efforts.  How do you use Facebook, Instagram, etc. as your friend?  We do need to help one another identify at least one person who is good at using social media in every Chapter to join in the recruitment efforts.

International Council and others are already working in the social media arena and we can do more.  Think of social media as digital networking.  How do we stay “front of mind” with folks using digital tools available to all of us?

How do we use our new database program, Membee, to capture information about our members and their skills – this is another way we can find the ladies who would like to help with social media in our Chapters and Provinces.  We can create a ‘skills’ check off in Membee that will capture this information when ladies update their profiles. 

Future generations are our future … we need to stay focused on new things so that we don’t miss opportunities.

Shari wrapped up the webinar by saying she looks forward to seeing us all in Wichita!

There were 58 Sisters registered for the webinar with 30 actually participating.  One group sent a message that they had a group of 5 together in one place to participate.  Shari asked for any ideas we have to be sent to her by email at Shari@sharipash.com

It was another great webinar to help us grow membership in SPG.

Much love, 

Donna

Donna Collins for the SPG Advisory Committee

Deb Juracich, Chair; Liz Cochrane, Donna Collins, and Cindy Stath

On Our Way To San Antonio by Dee Dee Rupp

For myself and two sorority sisters, our recent Province trip was almost “the trip that wasn’t.”  Bad weather was expected and my husband, Dave, insisted that I cancel the entire trip.  However, as much as Dave would like to control me, I am uncontrollable (hee, hee)!  The three of us had discussed our options, checked weather and mapped out what we thought would be the best route.  This route kept us off the main highways, where we could seek help in small towns along the way if needed.  In the end, we were convinced the route, and stops made along the way was the path which God had intended.

During a stop in Cisco, TX, three eateries were suggested by a local resident.  We chose Waverly’s, a small café with famous meatloaf sandwiches, according to the person who suggested the place.  The proprietors greeted us with a warm welcome.  The store itself was filled from top to bottom and on each wall with children’s games, books, toys and other fun items.  We immediately felt comfortable and, oh my, the food was not disappointing.  The male owner, Sean, came to our table with samples of their homemade Sweet Potato Soup.  One of the best soups I have ever tasted, and I am a cook myself.  Sean then asked if he could sit with us and we agreed.  He proceeded to tell us about the café/store and we visited a lot about food.  During our discussion, it was mentioned that my mom wrote a cookbook, and Sean asked if he could purchase one.  He was very interested in my mom’s recipes for German foods.  Sean and his wife had also written a book and before we left, he gave us a complimentary copy.  We took pictures with Sean and his wife and were on our way to San Antonio once again.  The book made each of us think anything we want to accomplish can be achieved.  It was full of scripture and recipes and told of their loss of a child (Waverly) and their leap of faith to start their own business in order to spend time with their family.  Many positive events happened along their journey to success and have brought them to where they are in their life right now.  While this story was by far the most inspiring adventure along the way, we have many more pleasant memories from the journey to and from Province that weekend.

Yes, our journey was extraordinary.  And upon reaching our destination, Province proved to be just as exceptional.  Seeing all of our sorority sisters in one place and spending quality time with them was a true treat!  We ate and laughed and, of course, had motivating meetings as well.  I even did a little twerking demonstration.  For those of you who don’t know what twerking is, you will just have to ask the next time you see me (hee, hee)!  During meetings, we were encouraged to increase our membership as well as our own involvement.  As you know, a great opportunity is ahead of us to do just that, International Convention in Wichita, KS.  It is a time for us to shine and show off our hospitality skills as we ‘skip’ down the “Yellow Brick Road” with our International sisters!  We are prepared to work hard and have fun as well. 

I’m sure each of us have different memories of the weekend, but one of my favorites was getting to spend time with our VIO, Rene Chenault, International Service Secretary.  We had a wonderful time down at the San Antonio Riverwalk.  It was kind of enchanting, with the music, lights, aroma of delicious foods, laughter, conversations and especially the parade of Lantern Floats.  I will never forget my Province experience in San Antonio, TX.  Thank you to all who worked to make it special!

The SPG Province meetings inspired me to be more involved in sorority and community.   Who knows, maybe in 5-10 years you will see me as a Province or International Officer.  You might hear me plug my newly inspired book, “It’s a DeeDee Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand”, coming soon to book stores near you!  Meeting Sean and his wife, attending the Province meetings and spending time with my sorority sisters have inspired me to write this blog, convinced me to go back to school and get my Master’s degree, and get involved in the ALZ foundation in Hays, KS.  My biggest dream is to convince backers to build a much needed Alzheimer’s/Dementia living facility in the Hays area.  Dream Big!

Hope this little blog has inspired and uplifted anyone who reads it.  May God bless!  Forever friends in friendship!  

With Love, and Friendship and Inspiration.

DeeDee Rupp

Mu Eta Chapter

Hays, KS 

Sister to Sister…..