International Conventions of the past – Deb Juracich, International President

International Conventions of the past
Deb Juracich
International convention is right around the corner. Not that anyone needs assistance getting excited for our trip to Portland, but let’s share our favorite moments from past International conventions. When I look back there are a few special moments that come to mind.
In South Bend and Grand Rapids, the membership was engaged with productive conversations about our organization and future. It was so exciting to see the passion of our Sisters from all over sharing ideas to help move SPG forward.
Hosting in Columbus has been one of my favorite International conventions. The collaboration of the members of Gamma Province was special. It was a bonding experience for the Sisters of the Province Planning Team, and working to provide a memorable and successful convention was amazing. The hotel staff was so impressed by our presence that they requested that we host every year at the Hyatt. Our members are always courtesy, kind, and generous. It was fun to share Ohio’s capitol city with our SPG Sisters.
The last memory is of the kindness of the SPG members. This was demonstrated in Nashville. We made convention that year a family affair – Kyle, our eight year old son at the time, got separated from us in the elevator, we got off and Kyle stayed on. He rode the elevator again to various floors, without either of us, and as parents we were panicked. A few minutes later, Kyle returned safe and sound with an elevator of SPG Sisters laughing with him and ensuring we were reunited.
Gives me goosebumps and puts a great smile on my face when I think of these and many more great memories of our time together at International convention.
What memories bring a smile to your face? Please share in the comments below!

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!