All posts by International Editor

Why Not The Divine Nine? by Tanya Patterson-Stanley

The Divine Nine was founded in 1906 because African American students were isolated and segregated from the general student population, resulting in an abysmal African American retention rate.  They wanted to belong to something.  They needed and felt this would allow growth and support to other African American people.  They wanted to support one another.  Sound familiar?

Whenever I tell someone that I belong to a sorority, the first questions are “Are your Delta or an AK?  What are your colors?” and so forth.  I guess the expectation is that because I am African American, I must belong to an African American sorority, right?  People tend to stick to what they know and what looks like them.  Stay in a comfortable place.

So why join Sigma Phi Gamma International when there are established sororities that a woman like me would “fit” into.  Well, I courted some of the aforementioned sororities and did some research.  I learned about some of the great things they offered, their service to others and as a plus there were tons of networking opportunities.  I engaged in some interesting meet and greets, rush parties and happy hours.  Soon thereafter, I was invited to some volunteer events to spend some more serious time with the members.  It was at that time it became clear to me that I was different.  I didn’t feel a deep connection.  I realized that this wasn’t “the right fit” for me.

But I digress.  From the moment I had my first phone interaction with a lovely Sister from Omicron Province nearly 7 years ago, it just felt different.  She made me feel welcome over the phoneImagine that.  After several phone calls with Omicron Province, Diane Collings and discussions with my beloved Sisters, three of us made the trip to visit Rho Province during their Province weekend.  Saturday morning we were called down to their business meeting, after just getting in at 2:00 am.  There was a sea of white… not people, but everyone was wearing white.  It was a little overwhelming.  But Brenda Jones and I were blessed to sit next to Karla Cook.  Later we found out who she was.  Karla, God bless her, was and is so endearing.  Never was she arrogant or judgmental.  She never made us feel uncomfortable or different.  Karla and Miriam Brown would come to be personas of the type of sorority we wanted to be a part of.   A place that felt safe.

I am a very open-minded individual and try to look at humanity as a whole.  I wanted to join SPG, but how would that impact my values?  I don’t have the “us versus them” mindset.  My parents raised me to be more than that.  They grew up in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement and believed in equality for all.  Ms. Mildred would say “Do not hate the person, hate the deed and pray for them.”  Thank you for that Mom.

Over the years, Xi Omega and I have made many new and STRONG relationships.  I didn’t join a predominantly white sorority because I wanted to be something I am not.  I joined a sorority that accepted me.  One that was not concerned about my pedigree or lack thereof.  I joined women who wanted to support me and help me support others.  I joined my own divine Sisterhood.  Take a moment to hear what I am saying.  I joined a group of women who by all accounts stand for Sisterhood, Community and Service.  Who accept me and what I represent as an African American woman.

In these unprecedented times, I felt the need to share my journey.  Racism does exists in 2020, in many obvious and subtle ways.  We experience profiling, separatism, off-collar jokes in private that one thinks is cute and non-offensive and yes, many unnecessary deaths, just because of how God made us.

But know this, SPG as a group has the opportunity to show the world we are inclusive to all.  We can continue to lift up everyone, no matter their color, their sexual orientation, their educational background, their social economics, etc.   Our Chapter is made up a rainbow.  We are Jamaican, Caribbean, Puerto Rican, Guyanese, Dominican, Jewish and African American.  We are one.  So why SPG?  Because SPG allows a platform for women of ALL BACKGROUNDS and that is a what I tell all who ask.  I hope when you are recruiting new members you don’t just look in your own backyard, but take a moment to reach out to someone who is different, as they may have a lot to offer.  ALL LIVES MATTER.

In peace and love.

Tanya Patterson-Stanley

A proud member of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority.

Four Omicron Epsilon Sisters Share Their “Why” Virtual Chapter

When I heard of the Virtual Chapter, I was ecstatic!  Even though I did not really know what that meant.  What it did mean is that I could stay connected to Sorority.  I was initiated back in 1966.  I no longer drive on freeways and out of the Valley where I live.  Virtual Chapter is a great opportunity for me.      Mary Bundy

Here is my “why”…For as long as I can remember my mom would attend sorority meetings, socials, Provinces and International Conventions.  She loved and still loves her Sisters near and far and helping her community.  It took me a while to find my time to join but I joined my local Chapter.  I truly loved every second but shortly after I joined, my husband and I moved to Cincinnati.  I found a Chapter near me but struggled to attend meetings and felt like I was letting my Sisters down.  All this caused stress.  My mom suggested I give the virtual Chapter a try so I could continue to be part of SPG instead of quitting.  Virtual Chapter has been a perfect fit for me and my lifestyle.  I miss being in close contact with my Sisters, but I know my virtual Sisters are always there for me.  I have to say we do have fun, especially when we have a social.  We are all over the US and Canada!      Heather Carpenter

This is my “why” for joining a virtual sorority…I have a hard time making friends and feel out of place almost everywhere.  I found SPG online and was intrigued with the idea of making friends via the Virtual Chapter because there are no Chapters near me.  From the very beginning I’ve felt welcomed and included without any pressure and am excited to continue this journey.     Wendi Coats

This is my “why” for joining a virtual sorority…I tried to join SPG when I lived in Indianapolis but found I couldn’t attend the physical meetings on a regular basis due to work, family and travel constraints.  When we moved to Nevada, I continued with virtual sorority which freed me from having to leave home to participate.  I find this makes regular attendance easier, even when I am traveling.  I still feel close to my Sisters even though we are in difference parts of the U.S. and Canada.     Marcia Ward

 

“My ‘Why’ I am a part of Omicron Epsilon, Virtual Chapter” – by Jill Marconi-Pyclik

The love of your first Chapter, where you went from pledge to member, is something I will never forget.  My Pledge Mistress was Juanita Geberin of Alpha Mu Chapter, Peru,  Indiana.  She was a stickler for knowing what was in that pledge book.  She gave me the love of a Sister who knew her history and showed me what the love of a SPG Sister will bring into my life.  I will always cherish our time together.

After being a part of Alpha Mu Sisters for over 22 years, it was time for me to leave.  It was important to me, when I moved from Peru, Indiana, back home to Puyallup, Washington, to find a way to stay connected.  I couldn’t imagine my life without those Sisters back in Peru.

My job transferred to Joint Base Lewis Mc Chord, to run 17 different programs that serve and care for our military men and women and their families.  I have been a program manager now for 36 years.

If I say I missed my SPG Alpha Mu Sisters, that would be an understatement.  The old saying, “You don’t know what you have until its gone” is no joke!

Now, there are Chapters that I could have gone to here, and they would have welcomed me with open arms as they did when I attended the IOTA Province meeting.  I didn’t do anything for about 9 months and then Sharon Hilton contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of the formation of a virtual Chapter.  I had heard of the virtual Chapter and I was quite interested in it but I just didn’t do anything.  (I believe they call it depression!)  Well, Sharon can be very convincing!  I joined and am very pleased to have brand new Sisters.  Being able to be with them, even though it’s virtual, has been a blessing.

So my choices were, not joining another Chapter and becoming an Inactive member or trying something new in the way of Omicron Epsilon.  What would you do if you were in my shoes?  Which would you have chosen if you were faced with no Sisters or virtual Sisters?  I know I made the right choice for me.  I don’t regret my choice at all.  I see virtual Chapters as a great way to start new Chapters.

I hope that many Sisters, during this time of pandemic, have also learned to use different means to be together and be part of each other’s lives through virtual means.  Zoom is very popular to use, or you could use Microsoft Teams and I think Skype is still around.  I hope everybody is safe and healthy during this time.  I’m sorry we didn’t get to have our Convention this year, but I don’t blame them for cancelling it.  It may be our new normal for now, but just wait until we are together again next year!!

See you then,

Jill

A Momentous Milestone by Linda Garbutt

     As of March 9, 2020, Beryl Humphreys will have been in Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority for 60 years.  What an an accomplishment that is!  We wish to extend congratulations to Beryl from all her SPG Sisters!
     Beryl is a member of Delta Omega Chapter in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
     She has served her Chapter and Province with professionalism.   She always attends their meetings and functions  with enthusiasm.
     Beryl has attended many Conventions throughout the United States and Canada.  She always greets her Sisters with delight.  She was looking forward to our 100 year anniversary celebration in St. Louis in June.
     Beryl enjoys particularly the role of Treasurer in our Chapter.  It’s a money thing!  She was a paid bookkeeper for her husband’s construction business, until they retired.
     Beryl chooses to be responsible for organizing an annual bus trip to Stratford and has done so for many years.  Participants see a play that is thoughtfully chosen to bring pleasure to all.  Time is given for lunch on our own and to do some fast shopping.  On the way home, we have an elegant dinner at Elmhurst Inn just off Highway 401. Beryl’s organizational skills and friendly manner contributes to the success of this summertime event.  It is her Ways and Means project for our Chapter.
     She has eagerly participated in many activities to raise funds for local women’s charities.  Helping others is a matter of significance for Beryl!
     Beryl is more than a Sister in SPG.  She is a friend to those she has come to know personally.  She shows compassion and joy for their life happenings.
     She is a vibrant conversationalist.  She must have a lot to share about SPG over these past six decades.  Just ask her!
Submitted by Linda Garbutt
Delta Omega Chapter President

A Cup, a Chain and a Statue by Eleanor T. Cheslak

A CUP, A CHAIN AND A STATUE 

            Three words form the circle that is the Sigma Phi Gamma logo.  These words, “Friendship, Community, Service” represent the essence and/or goals of the Sorority as well as the dedication of its members.  Our Pledge and Creed confirm these commitments.

            Further evidence of these intentions is represented by three objects; the loving cup, the chain of friendship and the Buddha statue, found on the crest which was designed by the Founders one hundred years ago.  The loving cup is often used at wedding ceremonies to signify love, togetherness and family.  When repeating our Pledge we say, “I PLEDGE TO PROMOTE FRATERNAL FEELINGS.”

            The second symbol on the crest is the chain of friendship which dates back to 1916 and a cartoon published during the First World War.  The cartoon depicts one nation coming to the defense of another forming a chain.  Thus we say, “I PLEDGE TO DO ALL I CAN TO HELP A SISTER.”

            The third object pictured on the crest is a Buddha statue.  In order to understand the reason for its inclusion, we must answer two questions.  Is the Buddha statue the symbol of Buddhism and is Buddhism a religion?  The answer to the first question is “no”, the symbol most often used is the lotus flower.  However there are several symbols used such as The 8 Spoked Wheel, and Two Golden Fish.  In order to answer the second question, we must go back in history to 500 BC to the first Buddha.  Siddhartha Gautoma was the son of a nobleman in northern India.  He was a philosopher who denied the ancient deist beliefs.  Siddhartha traveled the countryside searching for and contemplating the meaning of life and death—a beginning and an ending.  His thoughts were more closely related to science than religion.  It is said that he reached enlightenment.  Therefore, a Buddha is simply defined as an enlightened person.

            In order to answer the second question, we must look to the definition of religion.  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as: “The belief in a god or a group of gods: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules used to worship a god or group of gods.”  Buddhism does not fit this definition since Buddhists do not look or pray to a god, a belief, or a doctrine.  Instead, it is a system of meditation concerning awareness and meaning of life especially the concepts of generosity and good thoughts and deeds.  These concepts are basic to our fulfillment in life. Generosity is the  basis of compassion and the greatest gift to us is the act of giving itself.

            Ghandi referred to this concept when asked the question, “Why do you serve all these people?”  He answered, “I don’t give to anyone.  I do it all for myself.”

            As a Sorority, we are dedicated to community service and our Creed states, “MY DONIMANT DESIRE IS TO RENDER A SERVICE AS GREAT AS LIES WITHIN MY POWER AND TO RENDER THAT SERVICE TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.”

By Eleanor T. Cheslak

Moving Forward by International President Sandy Morris

I hope this letter finds everyone safe and healthy!  As we are all in different parts of the country and in Canada, we face slightly differing situations with staying home, quarantining, being safe and healthy, which is and should be our focus right now.  Things related to that are changing daily, everyone is hoping that Covid-19 is relaxing its grip on us and will allow us to renew our economies.

Your International Council along with the 2020 International Convention Committee is working together.  Knowing that we are living in an uncertain time right now, we are going to have to move on with the planning and hosting of our International Convention.  We have an obligation to the Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri and they are very willing to work with us on having our Convention.  Now, we know there is still a possibility the event will be cancelled due to the State of Missouri continuing its ban on groups larger than 50 from gathering.  It is very clear that this is out of our control and it won’t be decided until much closer to the event.  Lambda Province must move forward to plan the event; they cannot wait.  We are asking you to send in your registrations for International Convention if you think you will plan on attending if the travel bans and group restrictions are relaxed.  Only this way will Lambda Province have a clear picture to move forward in negotiating with the hotel.  Please know your registrations will be refunded if indeed the Convention is cancelled.

The International Council is considering the consequences of cancelling and believe we have the beginning of a good plan in that event.

The ABCs of Quarantining By Beth Beckham, International Organizer

Adventure – Life is an adventure, maybe a little too adventurous for some at this time

Blessing – Use this time to count your blessings, you will discover some you never knew you had

Clean – The dreaded spring cleaning, now a quarantine clean

Donate – After quarantine cleaning, think of all the donations you will have ready when this is all over for those less fortunate

Earth – Show the earth around you some love, plant, weed, mow your grass

Fabulous – Show up every day as your fabulous self, even if it is only to get the mail or take out the trash

Gratitude – There are certainly many we can show our gratitude to during this time, pick someone and show them you appreciate their efforts

Helpful – We can all be helpful to others during this time in some way

Imagine – Together we will get through this and it will end someday, imagine your life as it will be when this is over

Joy – Find joy in all that we do, no matter where we do them, be joyous daily

Kind – Be kind to those we encounter, we do not know what they are personally dealing with and they are providing services for us daily

Lovely – Find the lovely in every day, a flower blooming, a bird calling, a neighbor walking that we greet from afar

Mindfulness – Approach each day with a mindfulness to us and others

Nourishing – Every day nourish our souls, minds and bodies, it’s important to take care of ALL of ourselves during this stressful time

Obtainable – Know that peace and happiness is obtainable for each and every one of us, these should be daily objectives

Playfulness – Be playful in some way every day, not only can this bring us joy, but it keeps us young

Quirky – (I could have put quarantine, but we have had enough of that!)  A little quirky every day never hurt anyone, it can be fun, try it, you may like it

Relax – We are all in this together, frustration, anxiety will not make it go away any sooner, just relax, we’ll get through this

Smile – What can I say, a smile can make everyone’s day, even your own

Triumph – We will triumph over this current crisis because we are strong and committed

Understanding – Demonstrate understanding of others’ situations, we are here for each other

Valued – Know that every one of you is valued by me and others, make your day brighter by knowing this

Witty – Maybe take up a new hobby, sharing jokes and riddles, just to make someone’s day a little brighter (see Quirky above)

X – Did you know that X. X. in Victorian slang means double-excellent and X. X. X. is treble excellent?  A little X trivia for you today

You bet – Well really, I bet you can achieve greatness in your own way during this time, see what you can achieve

Zest – Whether a zest for life or a zest in the kitchen, live you life with it

I hope you reach out to others during this time to let them know they are not alone.

Stay well my SPG Sisters, Beth Beckham

International Organizer, Xi Theta Chapter, Omega Province, Port Charlotte, FL

Reach Out And Support One Another By Debbie Henize

Hello Sisters and Friends,

What a difference time can make.  60 days ago if I said that you would be out of work, contained to your home and expecting $1200 from the government, many of you would have said I was crazy.  You would have been right.  Unfortunately, that is our new reality.
I wanted to post this article because I want anyone who reads it to know that Sigma Phi Gamma is strong.  We have wonderful people with great hearts.  We can be that light for others.  Let’s use this time to get close to one another.  (Figuratively speaking)  Call on that sister who may be in need of some encouragement and would love to just hear your voice.  My mom is 71 years old and under normal circumstances is self sufficient.  She helps me much more than I help her.  However, she feels helpless and was nearly in tears yesterday when we spoke on the phone.  You see, she is safe and healthy but this is causing her mental stress.  (I can share this because I know she will not read it.  She does not read the blog.) I share this not for pity for my mom but for a wake up call for all of us.  This is a stressful time and we need to stay strong and support each other.
We each have different skills.  I have noticed that some of you are helping by making face masks and many other selfless acts.  Can you share these with people?  Facebook, this blog or your Province publication are great starts?  Also, let’s be creative.  Which is difficult for me.  How can we make someone else feel special and loved?  I get so much satisfaction from my association with sisters across the country and Canada.   I want to share that love with as many as possible.  Also remember that many of our members are not actively engaged on social media so it may take other means to reach them.  Use your God given talents to reach out to a sister who may need you.
Dear sisters you are all on my heart.  I am proud to be a Sigma Phi Gamma and want to let all my sisters know I love them.  Special prayers for each of you as you reach out safely.  Let this chain of friendship into deeper love grow.  I’ll light your candle.  Keep it aglow!!
Love and Prayers
Debbie Henize
Nu Tau Chapter

Connected Through Social Media by Vice President Linda Bullington

I love being a member of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority! We are sisters across the US & in Canada too, united in friendship!

We have 3 levels of membership, we’re all in a local Chapter- a group of women who gather in friendship to help in our community.  Next is the Province level- a region of multiple local Chapters & then there’s the International level- sisters in local Chapters, across the US & Canada.

We see local sisters at our monthly meeting, occasional social gatherings, or work parties for community service or fundraising projects. We see our Province sisters at quarterly lunches & our annual regional Province convention. We see our International sisters, at our annual convention. 

If we’re lucky we also see these sisters socially- sharing vacations & travel. We also keep in touch via phone calls, texting, emails & social media. Today, I’m marveling at our social media connections!
I saw a post this evening, made by one of our sisters across the country, she shared that her family had lost a loved one this morning, I sent her, what I hope, was a comforting message, to let her know I wish I could lighten her sorrow.
I made a post- my daughter works in the Emergency Department at a hospital, tonight she’s outside in the triage tent that’s been set up to assess potential patients before they enter the hospital. It’s scary to me, she could come in contact with a Covid-19 contagious person… My sisters post comforting comments & well wishes for my daughters safety- it helps quell my fear.
One sister’s mom lives in a care facility, they had a positive Covid-19 diagnosis in the facility, we posted comments of well wishes for her moms health safety.

Social media not only allows my sisters & I to share our sadness or fears, but also allows us to share our joys & day to day lives. 
A sister went for a 20 mile bike ride, her first ride of the season! 
Another, shared a recipe.
Do you need a laugh, there are plenty of jokes.
There’s lots of sharing of photos-families, celebrations, nature & vacations.
By using social media we stay in touch with our sisters, share in our day to day life no matter how far apart we are & strengthen our bonds of friendship, this sharing makes our sisterhood stronger!
We are always looking for new members, if our sisterhood appeals to you, check out our website for more info & contact us for details on joining.

How To Help If You Sew by Marlyna Croson

Hi Sisters,

I’ll keep it short and sweet.  I know we have all been hearing and reading about the Coronavirus.  I know you are thinking, as am I, on what we can do to help.  Some Chapters and Provinces have probably already come up with amazing ideas-but for those that haven’t and are still looking-I have a fantastic idea!
If you sew; making cotton face masks for children and adults for hospitals, nursing homes, cancer related facilities, etc. is an amazing way to help your community.  The use of fabric face masks is an alternative during a crisis when all other supplies have been exhausted.  We are nearing that point!  Fabric face masks can be sterilized and reused as needed.  Your efforts would not go unnoticed and would potentially help thousands.  Please consider crafting and donating to your local health care facility.
Below are instructions used for creation.
Marlyna Croson
Nu Sigma Chapter
Rho Province

How to make a Face Mask

What you will need

  • Cotton fabric, a pretty print is best.
  • Rope Elastic, beading cord elastic will work (you may also us 1/8” flat elastic)
  • Cut the elastic 7” long and tie a knot at each end (DO NOT knot the ends of the flat)

You can make two sizes:   Adult or Child

  1.   Put right sides of cotton fabric together  (Cut 9″ x 6″ for Adult or 7.5″ x 5″ for Child)
  2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop.  Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner.  A few stitches forward and back will hold this.
  3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.
  4. Now sew across that top of the mask to the next corner.  Again put an elastic with the edge out.
  5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.
  6. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5” to 2” open.  Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.
  7. Pin 3 tucks on each side of the mask.  Make sure the tucks are the same direction
  8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice.

It is so easy to make this.

Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.

Impact of COVID-19 by International Vice President Linda Bullington

What a crazy time this past month has been!  Who could have imagined the fallout we are going through right now?!   And it’s all caused by a little virus!  Most of our communities have new, sometimes stringent directions in place to get our country through this crisis.  Follow those guidelines to stay healthy and help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Recent direct impact to SPG as a sorority was the cancellation of Mu and Alpha’s Province Meetings.  Mu Province is hoping to reschedule at a later date.  Luckily most Province members got their sorority batteries recharged from our weekends of sharing sisterhood before this health scare got so serious.  Your International Council is monitoring conditions and has decided to “watch what happens for a while” before making a decision on St. Louis.  For now, it’s still a go for International 2020, our 100th anniversary as an organization!  Happy Anniversary to us!

What have we learned from this recent health impact?  Not to hoard, not to gather in crowded spaces, to wash our hands often and not to touch our faces.  I hope we have also learned to help those who need help.  Check on the elderly or immune compromised in your life.  Help them out by doing their shopping so they can stay home where they are able to stay away from the unknowing carrier.  Check in on them to be aware of their health.  They will appreciate your concern and if they aren’t a member, it just might be the thing that makes them realize they want to be!

To help in your community, check to see if there is something you can do to help as a volunteer.  This is one of the things we do best as SPG members!

Many places are limited to essential personnel at this time.  If that’s the case in your area, don’t impact conditions by ignoring directions.  If we all have our health and the health of those around us in mind, we will make it to the other side of this crisis.  If you have been told not to go to work, make productive use of your time off: spring clean, read that book you’ve wanted to get to, enjoy the company of your family, play games, watch movies, whatever you enjoy to pass time.

This virus is transmitted by droplet contact-someone coughs or sneezes and you walk into the mist expelled, or, the mist settles on surfaces and you touch the surface then touch your face.  It is suggested to maintain a 6ft space around you when you must be in public areas but best of all avoid being there if possible.  This doesn’t mean you can’t go outside.  Exercise is good for your health.  Take a walk, enjoy the fresh air, birds and scenery in your area.

If you are sick, check with your doctor’s office before going in as there may be a new policy in place to keep you and those around you from potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus.   Wash your hands often using the 20 second washing rule.  Warm water and soap is the best method, or use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible.  Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, toss it afterward and wash your hands after tossing the tissue.  Avoid touching your face and avoid contact with others outside of your immediate household if possible, till this virus is contained.

If you are sick, self isolate, but stay in contact with someone who can monitor your health from a distance in case your health declines further.  If you are healthy, use common sense precautions.  Follow any restrictions placed on your area.  And share our resources fairly so all have a chance to get what they need, to get through this situation.

Sending Cyber hugs, Linda