MEMORIAL DAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU? by LINDA BULLINGTON, INTERNATIONAL HISTORIAN

Coming from a military family I am very aware of the significance of Memorial Day, it’s not about BBQs, camping and a three day weekend, it’s about honoring the fallen, those who gave their all, while serving their country who lost their life doing so.
Luckily, even though many in my family have served our country, I’ve yet to lose a family member to a war, so, I go to Willamette National Cemetery on Memorial Day to pay tribute to those members of my family who served our country and are gone now.
What an amazingly beautiful, heart-wrenching sight the cemetery is, large American flags on tall poles, flutter in the breeze lining the roadways, wreaths stand in honor around the podium in the main gathering area, each grave has a small American flag waving in the breeze above it’s headstone- placed there by Boy Scout Troops. The sheer number of flags is overwhelming when you realize each flag represents a person who lies beneath it. Willamette is just one national cemetery, there are many around the country and even in foreign countries, a sobering thought that so many have served.
Normally when I go to pay my respects to relatives in Willamette it’s very quiet, with few cars or people about, that is unless a funeral is being held, then there’s the bagpiper playing- Amazing Grace- the twenty-one gun salute and the sobering sight of grief-stricken families.
For Memorial Day, gratefully, there are many people visiting to pay their respects. Many people, means many cars, traffic patterns change to accommodate the influx- one way traffic is implemented and getting to your family members’ grave is sometimes challenging to figure out, challenging but very minor in comparison to the challenges our military members had to handle while serving their country. While serving, members are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for as long as they choose to serve, being separated from family and loved ones for long periods of time when serving in an area not safe for families to accompany them, or the ultimate challenge of serving- losing their life in battle.
Let’s not just pay our respects once the service member has passed on, give thanks to those you see in uniform, for their service to our country while they are still alive. The freedom we take for granted comes at a price service members pay, through their dedication to serving our country. Thank you, to any SPG member who has served our country as a service member, for your dedication to our country and thank you to those who were a member in the family of a service member, for you served your country with your support to your service member.

ON THE ROAD WITH DOGS by INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, LINDY HEATH

LOL, those of us that are dog owners will relate to this, those that aren’t just might find this amusing or move on to read the next blog, but I thought it would be a change of pace to read what the trials of pet owners on the road can be like.
First of course is the vet visit to make sure your beloved furbaby (or in our case four of them) are all up to date on their shots and the paper work is all safely packed in a place that is accessible. Then you start to pack up the needed harnesses, leashes, sweaters (in case of cooler weather), bowls, a spoon or fork for their food, medications that MIGHT be needed for everything from an ant bite to an upset tummy, and don’t forget that portable enclosure, blankets, and their beds! It’s now time to pack it all into the car. Wait we need to put up the special “pet containment” system that keeps them safe and secure in the backseat! Forty-five minutes later, with temps in the mid 90s it’s finally in place, right side up and ready to load the beds, but now we are sweaty messes!
Then it’s time to bathe those wonderful little creatures, after all who wants to ride 1150 miles with smelly dogs right? Three hours later that item can be checked off the list, you are soaking wet from waist to chin, the floor needs to be mopped up, and you have four very unhappy puppies, but it’s done.
Next comes the first day of the trip. Three of the darlings all settle into their places and immediately curl into a cute little ball to sleep. But there’s that one little bugger who becomes a crazed, raging, and uncontrollable scared little dog that you don’t even recognize as your own. What happened to our sweet little two pound six ounce Oscar? So you hold this panting, trembling baby in your arms for 350 miles, stopping at every rest stop so he can get out of the car and run. And you worry that’s he’s not eating or drinking enough so you push fluids and food with every stop. Back in the car and it starts all over again. You call the breeder and every other person who has dogs to see if they have had an issue like this and they say Benadryl or a thunder shirt…..and you stop at the next truck stop for the Benadryl and you dig out a t-shirt to wrap your little bundle up like a burrito! Nope, it doesn’t work.
Finally, you arrive at the hotel for the night and you get to walk the babies, drag in all of their food, bedding, and portable pens for the few hours you will call this place home. Does your little darling show any signs of his behavior from the hours on the road? NO! He’s a perfect angel….Oscar you are such a faker you think. As you fall into bed for the night you pray that the next day’s journey of 412 miles will go smoothly.
It doesn’t go well until mid-day until you realize that he’s much better if he can’t see out the windows! Yay! So you make a bed for him between you and the console, and you put a puppy pad over your lap and him! So relieved for him and for you until you realize that you can’t move your leg or change position in your seat because any movement upsets him. But you hang in there because it’s so much better than him being a basket case. The second night is much like the first only a different room with different smells and noises. It doesn’t matter much as now both my husband and I are so tired we don’t care if they are eating out of each other’s bowls, at least they ate.
Ah, we are at last here. Three days on the road. Our furbabies are excited to be home (at least they recognize the smells here) and have settled in. All that is left now is to unload everything that we had to pack in for them, give them another bath (three days in a car does not make for fresh pets), find their food, and crawl into bed! I am so glad we are animal lovers though, it teaches us so much, not sure what at times, but as they snuggle down in my lap I am filled with love for these little creatures.

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT by PAT AMLIN

Taken from Dayton Crayons to Classroom’s May Newsletter:

Volunteer Spotlight
Twice a month, the Volunteer Room of Dayton Crayons to Classrooms is occupied by women of the Kappa Beta Chapter of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority. Based out of Vandalia, the Kappa Beta chapter has been volunteering at DC2C since 2009.
The women of Sigma Phi Gamma are dedicated to their sorority’s values of Friendship, Service and Community. These values have always been exemplified by the Kappa Beta chapter in their work with DC2C. Not only are these women some of our quickest and most efficient volunteers, but they are also some of our friendliest and most caring. The women of Sigma Phi Gamma demonstrate an understanding of service as both an opportunity to help and as a way to create a community based on dedication, kindness and love.
We at Crayons to Classrooms would like to extend our thanks to Sigma Phi Gamma – these women have collectively volunteered for well over 400 hours with us! Their joy, spirit, and commitment are both greatly appreciated and inspiring to all of us here at Crayons to Classrooms.

WHAT TO WEAR by INTERNATIONAL SERVICE SECRETARY, JILL PYCLIK

What to wear?
Today is Saturday and it’s a beautiful day outside. It didn’t snow last night
and I’m thankful for that. This would be my first day off after working 19
straight days. I’m looking forward to a quiet Saturday. Maybe I can sleep in
past 0430 or have my husband take me out for breakfast.
However, everything seems to have stopped.
I’m getting ready to go say goodbye to a friend, my sorority Sister and a co-
worker.
You see, last Sunday she had a massive stroke and a heart attack and
didn’t show up for work Monday or Tuesday. Her son found her, on the
couch, where she took her Sunday afternoon nap. It happened so quickly.
So today, I am getting ready like I would any other day to go to work but it’s
not to work I’m going. I am going to say goodbye.
It’s ironic how life has a way of just making us stop and look around at our
own lives and see what’s important again. I thought for sure this friend of
mine would be ready to go on a girl’s night out with me in April. My Chapter
has our monthly social next week and I planned on driving her as she
doesn’t like to drive at night. Plans were made and she said she would be
over about 6pm.
Almost every day she would walk over to my building in the morning and
we would have coffee and just talk. She was always doing something like
sewing, knitting, just creating different things she saw somewhere. We’re
all very crafty and creative, this group of friends we have.
But now, there will be one less friend, sorority Sister and co-worker, and it’s
hard to prepare for my day to say goodbye.
So today, I prepare myself. I wish I had waterproof mascara because I think
I’m going to need it today. I had a hard time picking out clothes. What would you wear? My stomach, well it’s in a knot, so food is out, but I think
I’m going to need some coffee.
Right now I’m just looking in the mirror thinking, “I won’t see her ever again,
talk to her or have our morning coffee.” There are so many people that
loved her, and she was well loved at work and in our Chapter.
So what does one wear? I stared at the clothes in my closet and couldn’t
find a thing to wear. After I grab some pants and a blouse, I thought, is this
what you wear when you take someone off life support?
I’m very glad that my Chaplain from work is coming with me today. He and I
will be allowed in the room, with the family, when this happens. She leaves
behind two children, 18 and 23.
But what does one say? I’ll tell her I love her and I’ve enjoyed my time with
her and that I want her to go to God now and enjoy her eternal life with him,
that he is waiting for her.
But I’d rather be selfish and say “Please fix your heart, don’t have a stroke,
come back, we all want you here.”
Can we rewind the clock and be there when this all happened on Sunday? I
know I can’t, but I sure would like to make it go away and have her just be
here. Her children need her to be here. We need her to be here. I need her
to be here.
There are always miracles and I believe God can change the world if he
chooses. God didn’t cause her to have a massive heart attack and stroke
and I know that. But right now her children are angry, confused, and scared
and they want their mother back. I want my friend back.
Today I know what to wear. I’m going to wear God’s Grace. I will speak the
words God gives me and trust in his work and let him lead me through this
day, as he had on another day, in a recent year, that I said good bye to
another dear friend and sorority sister

A TALE OF TWO SISTERS by CINDY STATH and NAN HARGISS

A Tale of Two Sisters
Some of the things that we feel makes Sigma Phi Gamma so special are the friendships that we make, the opportunities to mentor one another, and how those connections bring us together over and over throughout the years.
Many of you have heard that my first convention was Tucson, Arizona, in 1984. Nancy Hargiss was the International Vice President. I didn’t meet Nancy, that I recall. In March of 1985, I was initiated into Theta Pi Chapter, Indianapolis, Indiana. Who signed my initiation certificate….Nancy Hargiss!
Ruth Stath, my Mom, and Nancy Hargiss were Alpha Province officers together in the 1970’s. I surprised my Mom by attending the Province meeting the year she was Alpha Province President. I’m pretty sure Nancy was there too.
In 1999 or early 2000’s when, I was Alpha Province President, we needed qualified candidates for Editor and Organizer. Who did I recruit, yes, it was Nancy Hargiss and my Mom. They referred to themselves as “the reruns.”
When I was elected as International Organizer in 2010, Nancy was one of the first people I called. After she congratulated me, she said “You’re going to be International President when I get my 50 year pin.” I of course told her she was crazy!
When I received my Life Membership in Long Beach in 2012, my Mom wasn’t able to come to International convention, so Nancy Hargiss was my escort. We both cried.
When I was installed as International President, I was bound and determined that Nancy Hargiss would be part of the ceremony. Diane Costello was also part of the service. Diane presented my Mom with her Life Membership in 2002, I was Mom’s escort. Diane and I were both members of Lambda Phi Chapter when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana.
As Nan predicted, I was International President in 2014 when she received her 50 year membership pin in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was privileged to present her with the pin and sign her 50 year certificate. Again, we both cried.
Nancy served as International Parliamentarian from 1999-2002. She served with Helen Biales, Mary Lou Bernard, and Diane Costello. Nan has encouraged me in my Parliamentarian studies, and as you know, I am your current International Parliamentarian.
Do you see the connections? I was not consciously following in Nancy’s footsteps. She does not think of herself as my mentor. But her encouragement and support have made my leadership path easier.
Cindy Stath
When I first met Cindy it was as Ruth Stath’s daughter. How fun it was to get to know her and find out she loves bylaws! One of my favorite things!
If I had known I was a mentor I would have dressed better and worn a brighter lipstick  🙂  It is amazing how our paths have intertwined.

It was an honor and privilege to escort Cindy to receive her Life Membership in Long Beach. I was deeply touched to be the Installing Officer for Cindy as International President. The icing on the cake was receiving my 50 Year Pin and certificate from Cindy. I was profoundly grateful my daughter was there to escort me. The 50 Year Pin I received was Colleen King’s of Zeta Chapter. Her husband Keaton had heard I would love to have her 50 Year Pin and made it happen. I loved Colleen so much and am honored to wear her pin.

I am happy Cindy was interested in becoming a Parliamentarian and created another connection. Trivia: my Initiate card was signed by International President Olive Knecht, Alpha Chapter, one of the Chapters Cindy was a member of in Alpha Province.

Nancy Hargiss

Thanks to God and our Founders for the opportunity to make life-long friends through Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority.
What connections do you see in your SPG journey? Who have your mentors been? Who are you mentoring today in SPG?

Cindy Stath & Nancy Hargiss

“Tooting our own horn” by Noni, Xi Rho Chapter, Omega Province

Xi Rho Chapter, Omega Province

Xi Rho Chapter, Omega Province has had the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches as a service project for many years. We sponsor the Dorista Cottage at the FSYR Girls Villa in Bartow also. We were at the Villa open house on April 8th and as surprised when those of us who were there were called up in front of the audience and were presented this framed certificate and each was given a personal thank you coin and card. Just thought we would share our surprise recognition with all of you!

Let’s Hear From You, the Members! Deb Juracich, International Vice President

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy reading the SPG BUDDIE Blog. It is another way, as Sisters, to learn about and from each other, to be inspired and to inspire, and a way to stay connected, to name a few. I know that Donna has noted many times that members can write a BUDDIE Blog post and provide it to her for inclusion, but I only see a few postings.

Sigma Phi Gamma Sisters want to know what you are doing, and the interests, hobbies, talents, and businesses that you care about. Let us see what is going on with the membership! Your Sisters want to hear from you! Please respond to this BUDDIE Blog post sharing with us, your Sisters, your special talents, skills, and businesses!

All of us from around the US and Canada are looking forward to hearing from each of you!