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Things We May Not Know When We Join Donna Collins, International Counselor

I recently read a few articles about the value of being in a sorority (most were about college sororities) hoping to be inspired and find some interesting content for my April BUDDIE Blog post. One of the articles stood out to me and was about the things a Sorority doesn’t tell a woman about being in a sorority. To follow is my translation of the big ideas in that article to Sigma Phi Gamma:

Being in sorority is a time commitment
You know there will be meetings and socials and service, but you also need time for reading the BUDDIE, BUDDIE Blog, and emails from the Chapter, Province, and International levels. There are the pop-up run outs for coffee, breakfast, pizza, or wine. Then, there are the extras: phone calls that require your undivided attention – supporting a Sister, sharing information, gossiping (which is not what we should be doing), requests for help, etc. All of this can add up to significant amounts of time in a week or month. The list of ‘extras’ here are mostly expectations – they are important to being a member and a supportive Sister.

The Chapter might have problems
Your Chapter isn’t perfect. It’s made up of women of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and interests. Every woman has ideas about how the organization operates, where you meet, when you meet, and the service work you do. We don’t have to like everything – just love the mission of why we became a member: Friendship, Service, and Community!

You won’t always be so involved
The Pledge period is the honeymoon. Everything is shiny and fun. Everyone is welcoming and very friendly. And, if done right you will make fast-friends with every member of the Chapter, but sometimes this isn’t possible due to personalities, age, work, and social interests. Over time you might find yourself drawn to specific Sisters. That’s okay if you remember other significant parts of why you became a member: service to the community and to people who need a hand-up; and participating in something bigger than yourself for the greater good of all the women in SPG across the world.

There are strict rules
We are governed by sets of rules: Chapter, Province, and International bylaws and standing rules that help us work well together. Not every rule sits-well with every member. There are membership dues and per capita; there are attendance expectations; there are rules of conduct; there are sometimes fines and penalties for not meeting obligations. As an organization with nearly 100 Chapters we need structure even when we think it’s silly or it doesn’t apply to us. I think of it as the ‘traffic light’ set of rules – we have green, yellow, and red lights to keep us safe and in our own lane.

You won’t be best friends with everyone in your chapter
When I look back at the founding on my Chapter I can say today that half of us were destined to be best friends and the others just friends, some falling away over time. I remember wanting to be like the ladies in Psi Chapter (our Big Sisters) who were very in-tune with one another and very social. This reflection remains the same today, although I now know there are small clusters of very close friends within the Chapter, and at the end of the day they remain true to one another regardless of the ‘depth’ of friendship from one woman to another. I would say, in a Chapter of 30 women, it’s likely you’ll be very close to eight to ten women. You don’t have to be best friends with every Sister, but you will want to respect, admire, and love them all.

Members come and go
Women join and drop out of sorority for all kinds of reasons: time, interest, money, job changes, or moving to a new town. A Chapter’s membership will ebb and flow overtime. It’s always a good idea to check-in with members from time-to-time when someone leaves the Chapter to make sure your operations and activities haven’t gone astray. Don’t let the amount of money women are expected to contribute (dues, per capita, charities, activities) is pushing women out or preventing women to join. Are you actually doing service work? Many women join to be ‘doers’ and that means doing more than having meetings. What is your Chapter doing to have active engagement in service?

An active member has a moral obligation to lead
We all have the ability to Chair a committee, run for office, hold an office, and serve as a leader. We all know there are women in our Chapters (some of them 25+ years) who have never served in an elected office. In the beginning there are reasons (new job, babies, caring of sick parents, etc.) but eventually you need to step-up. Yes, leadership takes a bit of time, thoughtfulness, and desire – and we each have a moral obligation to do our part. Letting, and depending on others, to lead and put in the extra effort while you sit on sidelines is not the SPG way. I promise leadership will not kill you!

And in the end…
You may not have truly understood about the obligation to volunteer, lead, participate, read those emails and newsletters, show up for an intervention to help a Sister, or even some of the secret aspects of sorority – with a definite guarantee I can say, it is all worth it. Sigma Phi Gamma and its members make a positive difference in our lives on the day we join, and overtime as we have life-moments (a wedding, a baby, a death, a new job, a dream and even a broken dream) that change us as women. Sigma Phi Gamma is a way of life for many of us and I know first-hand how much my Sisters love and support me, call me out when I’m wrong or misinformed, or show up for the coffee, wine, or just because.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone? Debbie Henize, International Historian

Get out of your comfort zone?
I have written more in the past few months than I have since college. I must say it is not my forte. For those of you who do not know, I am a certified public accountant. I work as a credit officer for a local bank. This means I read numbers for a living. Just because I read numbers doesn’t mean that I can’t write. However, it is not something I do frequently or enjoy.
I know about now, if you are reading this, you are probably saying so what. Well, here is the point. I have done so much in the past few months that is outside my comfort zone. Some things I am doing well others I am still struggling with. The reason I am doing all these things is because I love sorority. I enjoy the friendships and community service. I love meeting new people in a comfortable situation. Sorority has become part of me. I want this organization to continue for my daughter and others.
I am also not the one who usually recruits people. I need to get over that. We need members to continue this wonderful organization that was started so many years ago. Each and every member of Sigma Phi Gamma can help recruit new members. Find a way and like Nike. JUST DO IT!!
Please respond to this post with ideas of how we can grow. How can we continue to do great work for communities and support each other with love and friendship? The smallest idea could spur another sister’s idea which could lead to a new member or two or three. Let’s work together!! Don’t wait. We can do this together.
Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!

Debbie

BUDDIE Blogs Robin Pelton, International Vice President

As I read the BUDDIE Blog posts, I see that most seem to come from the current International Officers. I would really like to see some of you “regular people” on here. I get it. I don’t really blog either and I really can’t see anyone being interested in what is going on in my life or in what I have to say. I am just like you. I get up every weekday morning and go to work, come home and cook dinner and clean up. I spend my weekends cleaning the house, running errands, spending some time with my friends and family and watching too much tv.
But has it occurred to you that what is happening in your life might be just what someone needs to hear? Maybe what you have to say will strike a chord in one person’s heart and be just what they needed to hear at that moment.
I have an app on my tablet called “Daily Bread”. It is a quick devotional that I read in the mornings before work. Sometimes it is just something I read and then digest as I say a quick prayer. But some days what is written really hits home. Those are the ones that I appreciate. Someone took the time to share an “a-ha!” moment with me and the millions of others that read it. I am sure that some of these writers thought, “Why would anyone listen to what I have to say?” But when it is one of those that touch me in some way, I thank God that they DID write it.
So, my point is, take a risk! Share what you are thinking with others. Share your thoughts and feelings. Maybe someone else is thinking and feeling the same way and that one person won’t feel so alone. Maybe your chuckle can bring a smile to someone else’s face. Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this to scold anyone for NOT writing blogs, I just want to encourage that someone (or two) who need a little push. How about it? Give it a try!

I Gambled on SPG! Donna Collins, International Counselor

In my last BUDDIE Blog post (in March) I reflected on membership from the perspective of judges on the television show “The Voice.” Imagine every woman as a potential Sister regardless of her social status, ethnicity, profession, or cleanliness of her kitchen floor. Would you ‘turn your chair around’ for a potential new Sister?
Last week while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the start of March Madness there was lots of people watching on our part as we walked up and down the strip or watched the games and races in the hotel Sport Book locations. Every walk of life, young and not so young people, diversity of race and background was plentiful – just like the Vegas strip – there was something for everyone.
As I sat at the Sport Book watching my home team lose a game, I struck up a conversation with the only other woman in the 60 seat screen viewing area. She was funny and easy to talk with. Sylvia is her name and she’s from South Carolina where she is a third grade teacher, mother of one, divorced, and trying to remember what it’s like to have fun. We were in the right place!
When Sylvia asked me what I did for fun it was the perfect opening to talk about Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority! I shared our cornerstones: friendship, service, and community! I was able to talk about how fortunate I am to have Sisters across the US and Canada. It was fun to share some of the antics from our most recent Gamma Province meeting. And of course, talking about our international sponsorships to organizations like The Fisher House was meaningful too.
As our conversation came to a close I gave Sylvia my email address, the SPG website URL, and encouraged her think about what a sorority Chapter might look like in her hometown. So, I did it, I engaged a stranger about the organization I love and care deeply about. Sylvia listened, she asked questions, and she has a way to follow up (email and website). The lesson here is that: 1) I did it – and it was easy; 2) I did it – and maybe just maybe I’ll get to share more with Sylvia this spring and encourage her to join the Virtual Chapter or start a new Chapter; and 3) I did it – and it was like a blind audition on “The Voice” – only I wasn’t the judge – Sylvia was. I hope to hear from her and I’ll let you know the outcome. What is your potential to share SPG? I vote for you to ‘turn your chair around’ and take a chance on a new Sister!

SPG – Making Connections Deb Jurachich, International President

Dale Carnegie wrote in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” After reading this, you know me, I began to wonder, how do we connect with people? While researching, I found an article in Forbes Magazine titled, The Seven Pillars of Connecting with Absolutely Anyone. The seven pillars are:
1. Be genuine. Have genuine interest in a person to make a connection.
2. Provide massive help. How can I help?
3. Pay ridiculous attention. Learn what matters to a person.
4. Connect with people close to them. Network and connect with people you see regularly.
5. Persistence wins most battles. Try multiple times to connect with people.
6. Make real friends. This is the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
7. Remain unforgettable. Send cards, notes, emails, or go the extra mile to connect.
The bottom line is by helping others we are making connections. This is Sigma Phi Gamma! Our organization engages in all seven pillars, proudly. It is what makes this organization very special. So, let’s take this one step further . . . connect and share with other women the ideals of SPG. Let’s see where it will take us!
Share your story with us! Write a BUDDIE Blog post or comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

March 2018 – PHI PROVINCE CAN’T BE STOPPED BY THE WEATHER

Did you know that Sigma Phi’s can do anything they set their mind to? We are doing new things every day. Some of you may know that Sigma Phi Gamma had its first ever virtual VIO.
The east coast was having very strong storms. I had booked a 6:00 am flight from Cincinnati, Ohio to Providence RI. I was going to arrive at about 10:00 and do a little bit of sight seeing in the area before meeting counsel for dinner. Well, unfortunately my flight was cancelled and could not be rescheduled until a 10:00 pm arrival time. In the mean time I spoke with Liz Cochrane and Deb Juracich. Both suggested that I not try to go because the weather was not getting better anytime soon. Disappointed was just the start. I felt terrible that I was unable to join my sisters in Phi Province. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how I was going to get to Massachusetts. I just knew I could get there: Storm or not!!
Well, I don’t give up easily, but mother nature is a tough adversary. It was an opportunity to try something new. My wonderful sisters from Phi Province included me in their council meeting on Friday evening via Zoom. Zoom is a program that allowed me to join the counsel meeting via the computer. This is the same technology the International Council uses to have meetings throughout the year. Following the meeting we set plans to do the same for the Province meeting held on Saturday. It wasn’t the same as being able to give and receive hugs, but it was a good alternative, and nothing stops a Sigma Phi.

Nothing Stops a Sigma Phi.
Sigma Phi Wins!!
Debbie Henize, International Historian

The Voice and Saying Yes to New Sisters Donna Collins, International Counselor

My husband and I love to watch the television show “The Voice.” Tonight as we watched the blind auditions I thought about how potential new members are approached or looked over and dismissed. Do we go into conversations with an open mind or do we close off opportunities through our own biases or discomfort (lack of confidence or inferiority, etc.)
Think about these points for a minute:
• What about the young woman with two small kids in tow, an older car, and broken sandal straps? I remember being that woman and would have given anything to have had SPG in my life at 25 to offer advice, cheer me on, and take me away a couple of times a month for a meeting or social.
• The cashier at the supermart – does she look like me or my Sisters, or is her skin and ethnicity different than mine? Don’t hesitate — reach out, tell her about SPG, it will be so worth it.
• Consider the physician who seems to have it all and might just need a bunch of girl friends or sorority Sisters in her life? Does her position of assumed wealth hold you back — stop it already, talk to her about SPG.
• The woman who has been divorced twice, drinks a bit too much, and cusses like a sailor, what about her joining your Chapter? Yep, she will be your best friend on skit night or at convention.
What if we recruited members like “The Voice” holds blind auditions?
• You can’t see the person’s clothes, car, skin color, or bad habits.
• You can hear a voice and learn about the woman’s hopes and dreams without judging.
• You are able to take a chance, find a connection, and move on to the ‘ask’ and invite this woman to a social or service project.
• You get to know her and realize she has much to offer and ask her to join Sigma Phi Gamma.
So in the tradition of “The Voice” – turn your chair around, take a chance on choosing the next best Sister for your Chapter and our entire organization. I don’t know about you, but thinking about joining “The Voice” coaches sounds great – who doesn’t want to have a good time with Blake, Adam, Alicia, and Kelly!?!!

SPG Live Deb Jurachich-International President

Sigma Phi Gamma is featuring our Sisters at their Province meetings through Facebook Live! It has been great to see our Sisters smiling faces, and everyone having fun. Facebook Live is another way for us to stay connected. Some may ask, “So what is Facebook Live?” It is a video that streams (is seen) live on Facebook (a social networking site that is free and available to everyone with an email address). This is an opportunity for SPG Sisters to share with other Sisters on Facebook.
So how do you do you get in on the action if you have a Facebook account? Want to Facebook Live at your next social or service project?
Here’s how:
1. Open Facebook.
2. Tap “What’s on your mind” at the top of the News Feed.
3. Select “Live Video” from dropdown menu.
4. Add a short description (Psi Chapter Social) and choose your audience (who do you want to know about this) before hitting “Go Live.” There will be a red icon at the top left-hand corner with word “Live” next to icon.
Helpful Tips:
1. Let Sisters know when you are going Live. What date, time (time zone too), and your Facebook name – so they know where to go on Facebook to see the live feed.
2. While broadcasting, keep reintroducing yourself, telling people where you are and what’s happening.
3. When panning a room or location go slowly – otherwise everything is a blur.
4. Encourage viewers to Like and Share the video that results from you being Live!
5. Engage people at your event – encourage them to introduce themselves, say hello, and share what’s happening from their perspective. It is so much fun to be interactive with everyone.
6. As you prepare to end your Facebook Live session – let the viewers know you are ready to sign off – and then thank them for joining you and say goodbye.
7. After the Facebook Live feed/broadcast ends, Facebook creates a video and it is published to your Facebook page.
Try it so we can see what your Chapter is doing? Looking forward to “seeing” you on Facebook!

Counselor, Cheerleader, Communicator! Donna Collins, International Counselor 2017-2018

I’ve given much thought lately to the role of Counselor in Sigma Phi Gamma at the Chapter, Province, and International levels. While each organization has their own set of rules for the Counselor. To follow is a general description from my viewpoint:
A Chapter Counselor works to help all officers fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Usually by the time a Sister serves as Counselor she has held most elected offices and chaired many committees. The Chapter Counselor is a wealth of knowledge!
The Province Counselor usually maintains ritualistic materials, reports the death of a Sister to the International business office, coordinates the Memorial services, assists Chapters and the Province Council. The Counselor offers support by helping the officers stay on top of many tasks throughout the year by encouraging their organization and cheering them on!

At the International level the Counselor is a member of the International Council along with the President, Vice President, Organizer, Editor, Historian, Service Secretary (all elected) and the Secretary/Treasurer (part-time staff professional). The International Counselor also serves as the Bylaws and Advisory Committee Chairs. The rules also say that a current or past International Counselor can serve as International Parliamentarian. And of course, as Counselor the role includes supporting the International President and her team, as well as members who seek guidance from Chapters and Provinces.

The office of Counselor feels a bit like being a ‘Big Sister.’ You want your Sisters to soar, succeed, and grow to serve the organization as you have, only better. That’s how I feel having been a Province Counselor and the current International Counselor. When our International President, Deb Juracich, tries something new, introduces a new way of communicating, or a dozen other things I feel so proud of her. That’s my job too – to cheer, encourage, support, and love her ideas and help her succeed. The International Counselor, when successful, is selfless and supports others so that they can know their own gifts and skills at deeper levels.

It is so rewarding to see the women of Sigma Phi Gamma step up to leadership. It is evident at our Province meetings where women are accepting leadership roles as President, Secretary, Editor, and Organizer. The same happens each year in our Chapters. And of course, this summer you will elect the next class of International Officers. I hope you’ll think about how good it will feel when you achieve the role of Counselor – it means you have participated fully, done your part, and earned your Cheer Captain star!

Super Bowl and Sorority – Linda Bullington International Service Secretary

Today is the creme de la creme of football- Super Bowl Sunday!
Coming in June is the creme de la creme of sorority- International Convention.
Football has a long history!
Sorority too, 98 years and counting!
In football both teams travel to a neutral stadium each year.
In sorority all guests travel to a different location each year!
In football both teams prepare for the big event.
In sorority both the hostess Province and the attendees prepare for the big event.
Football brings friends together, sorority does too!
Football has lots of pictures and video- sorority too!
Football has commercials- you see it, you want it, you go to the store for it.
Sorority has Marketplace- you see it, you like it, you buy it, right then!
Football has pre game, sorority has pre tours!
Football introduces the players, sorority introduces the Council!
Football has sponsors.
Sorority sponsors!
Football has half time entertainment, sorority has Skit Night!
Football gatherings have lots of food and beverages, sorority does too!
Football has side bets, sorority has 50/50s and drawing baskets!
In football, players get injured, win or lose yardage or even worse…the whole game.
In sorority, you can win or lose elections, sponsorship proposals or proposed bylaws.
In football the winners get a ring, in sorority- 25 year members get a gold card and 50 year members get a beautiful pin!
Football has a winning team, in sorority we all are winners- because of the friendship and community service we do!
Football winners go to Disneyland, sorority sisters go on post tour!
Yes, football and sorority have much in common, who knew?!