FRIENDSHIP – Robin Pelton, International President

I was just thinking today all of the wonderful qualities of my friends.  I am blessed to have many friends.  Some friendships are long-standing and will endure always.  Some are more recent and we connected right away.  And some are like acquaintances, but we have something in common and have things to share every time we meet.  I value every friend I have, from whatever part of my life they’ve come from.
These are just words, but they describe some of the qualities of my friends.  If you are already my friend, know that I treasure you.  If we have yet to become friends, let’s get together soon.  As Sisters we have a genuine common connection…Together We Are One in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!

The Honor Of Being A Pledge Mistress – Jill Pyclik

Serving as Pledge Mistress is a very important role for our sorority. The Pledge Mistress is the first person a Pledge will meet to really explain in depth about our sorority and describe the love that we as Sisters have for it. I can remember my Pledge Mistress, can you?

As I think back to the time when I was a Pledge, I still remember how I felt. Do you remember the feelings you had as a Pledge? Did you have feelings of anticipation in knowing that something exciting is about to happen? I sure did. Were you nervous? Did you giggle a little? Or did you smile a lot because you didn’t know what to do as you waited anxiously for the time of the Pledge Service to come? Those feelings remain with all of us forever.

As Marshal, I had the honor of standing with Tori while she waited to become a Pledge at International this year. It was a very exciting time for us because of the legacy that Tori brings to our sorority. The Pledge Service went well and Tori was thrilled to become a Pledge. And then we witnessed Ebony follow and take the Pledge of Friendship, virtually. Ebony lives in Boston, Massachusetts, and couldn’t be with us in person. But, through modern technology Ebony was able to join into the Pledge Service in real time.

The Pledge Service is now behind Tori and Ebony. Both ladies are eager to start down the path of study to learn more about Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority. I am pleased to serve as their Pledge Mistress. It’s an honor to guide our Pledges and share in their excitement. My thoughts easily take me back to the days when I too was a Pledge.

This is an exciting time for Virtual Chapter and also for all of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority. I am happy to serve as Pledge Mistress for our new Virtual Chapter Pledges. Going forward I look to all of my Sisters to help guide and mentor, not only the two virtual Pledges, but each and every future Pledge of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority. Will you take on the important role as Pledge Mistress for your Chapter? I hope you have the Honor of being a Pledge Mistress too.

A TRIBUTE TO PAT CROSON – by Barbara Drechsler

Many years ago, I met a very special person – Pat Croson.  At the time, we were in EPSILON Province, Washington DC based chapters of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority.  I was all of 20 when I joined SPG in 1961, newly married, and a new home owner.
Pat was a wonderful mentor through the many years of sorority…both in EPSILON Province and later in RHO Province.  She went on to become an International Historian 1980-1982, and rose all the way to International President 1983-1984.  From there, she became the International Secretary-Treasurer from 1985-1998.  Along the way, Pat encouraged me to run for an International Office, which I eventually did and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.  My family and I saw places we would never have seen when we attended Conventions in the U.S. & Canada.  Pat was always there pushing me, being a mentor, offering advice and being a true-blue friend.  It was a privilege to help her too, when she needed extra hands.
A friend is defined in the dictionary as “a person who knows, likes, favors, and supports; a comrade, chum, crony, companion, patron, and advocate”.  Pat was all these things not only to me personally, but to many other “Sisters” in SPG.  She was the glue that held things together – not the least of which was her family.
Richard and I were privileged to be considered “members of the family” from early on.  After a terrible accident, she and Tom unselfishly raised their little granddaughter, Marlyna, to adulthood, making sure she was always involved with her own mother’s family.  We watched and participated in many family functions as new grandchildren arrived and flourished.  It was an honor to be considered part of the family.  Unfortunately, I had to give up on remembering names as the grandchildren married and the family picture grew.  Eller taught her children well and Pat continued that legacy.
Over the years, Pat endured many health problems – she rarely complained, but was in constant pain.  We called her the bionic woman with all the replacement operations she went through and was ready for the next one if she thought it would help her ability to move easier.  Many times, I think I would have sat it out, but that wasn’t Pat…there were things to do!  She and Tom particularly enjoyed going to Nags Head.  They invited us a couple of times and, lo and behold, we bought a place in 1999 and shared the same time period (along with Diane and Bud Maraist).  This has enabled our Chapter to spend a weekend together once a year…a highlight for everyone, and especially Pat & Tom.  The guys fished and the ladies gabbed.  There was also her sewing club, members of which arrived after our sorority weekend.
Pat and Tom were a great pair – they would have celebrated 60 years of marriage on August 2, so they must have done something right!  They were helpmates for each other and doted on family (and pets).  I remember when I saw the house they bought in Charlotte Hall – me, I would have knocked it down and started over, but not Tom.  He and Pat worked hard on that house and made it a lovely home.  Juli and Jim are lovingly carrying on with improving the home.
There is so much more that could be said about Pat.  I will miss her dearly as will her entire family.  I hope you all will take comfort in the fact that she is no longer in pain and is probably organizing some function as she’s reunited with her mom.
Thank you, Pat…you were one of a kind.  I will always think of you so very fondly.  Rest in Peace.
My Love,
Barbara Drechsler

Facebook Sisters – Linda Bullington

As I relax in my easy chair I find myself reflecting on the sorority friendship connections made stronger through Facebook. I’ve just scrolled through and made comments on several sisters’ posts. One sister just became a grandma! She’s sad because she missed being present for the birth because her granddaughter was born a week early. Thankful that all went well with the delivery. And joyful that she’ll see her new granddaughter very soon. Another sister is home with strep throat. She works out at a gym faithfully, so I know her down time is driving her crazy. One sister is touring in my area. She and her husband went to a tourist site I haven’t been to yet, and I’ve lived here for 40 years. Yet another sister is vacationing in Key West. Quite a switch in scenery from her home base mid country. I enjoy staying connected to my sorority sisters through their FB posts. Because we are spread all over the United States and Canada, FB helps us keep in touch. We share both the joys & sadnesses of everyday life. At times we add a quick emoticon while other post draw out a thoughtful or compassionate response. Sometimes our posts include a joke or pretty scenery, but what really counts is that we stay connected. When I meet up with my FB sisters in person, it’s like we’ve enjoyed some of life’s journey together, despite living across the county from each other. So until we meet next time, know that I’ll be seeing your posts.

Summertime Reflections – Debbie Henize

Welcome to the heat! Based on my local news this heat wave is pretty much nationwide. I think even Canada is warmer than normal. As a reminder, I am in Ohio. Our heat index today reached 106. This may not sound bad to my friends in Nevada or Florida, but to wimpy me, heat is a big deal. The good thing is that it gives me time, in air conditioning, for my sorority work. I am sitting in my recliner, daughter at my left, with my computer and a to-do list.
I am reflecting on our time together in Portland. As my first year as an International Officer has ended, I would like to thank the membership for their support. I could not begin to thank each of you individually for your well wishes, cards and love. But, I do want each of you to know that your acts of kindness are appreciated much more than I can explain. During many tough times in my life, I have found the kindness of a sister has helped to pull me through. Thank you all for being Sigma Phi Gamma Sisters. Be good to one another and continue to support our communities.

Becoming a Sigma Phi Gamma Sister – Vittoria Trentacoste

I’ve heard many stories about my great-grandmother Violet Pettit Tindall. Stories of how meaningful sorority was to her, how much she enjoyed giving back, and being surrounded by Sisters. Although I lost my great-grandmother when I was young, I was able to get to know her. Thoughtfulness, care, and love seemed to emanate from her. Those memories made me realize that Sigma Phi Gamma is a group that I too want to be a part of. I’ve often felt there was something missing in my life and that I never quite fit in, until now.

Service work is one of my life long passions and I enjoy giving back to my community. Reaching out and helping others makes my heart full. So it seemed a fitting time in my life to look into my great-grandmother’s friendship and service sorority. I made my first contact through the SPG website. It took a while to get into contact with someone who could lead me in the right direction. I learned that while there are Chapters in Northern California, all of them were just too far away for me to attend monthly meetings and social activities. I was then told how the sorority was trying to launch a Virtual Chapter and I thought that would be perfect for me. I was put in contact with Sharon Hilton, and we discussed how the Virtual Chapter would work. I became very excited to learn more.

The first meeting was in March and I got a sense of how everything works; the goals and expectations. I also heard that the International Convention would be hosted in Portland Oregon, and registered immediately! I studied parks and recreation in college so the route to the Portland location was very attractive to me. The drive through so many beautiful state and national parks was an enticement on its own. Before leaving for the trip, my Virtual Chapter started talking about the prospect of being pledged at International. I was ecstatic! I was finally going to be following in my great-grandmother’s footsteps.

June came quickly, and I was becoming more and more excited and maybe a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be a little nervous to go somewhere you’d never been and surrounded by people you didn’t know? After my arrival into the city of Wine and Roses, I went to pick up my registration packet. Three women were there smiling at me and so excited to meet me. I just knew that I had no real reason to worry.

I soon met up with two of my virtual Sisters and I met their wonderful group of fun loving Sister friends. We all jumped in the car and went to dinner. Upon our arrival back to the hotel for the first night of fun, I ended up sitting at the International Officers’ table. At the time no one really knew who I was except that I was a pledge from the Virtual Chapter. As I introduced myself I could see the excitement in their eyes as they realized my connection to sorority. As the events of the week went on I felt more and more comfortable. As someone who sees them-self as a shy and quiet person (you would never believe that after seeing the skit I was in), I definitely became more at ease being me. I started to sit at different tables, have conversations with anyone I sat with, and most importantly I started to feel like I had a giant family who would support me in everything I do. For many years I’ve struggled to make friends as I’m not typically an outgoing person. But now I’ve found my place in sorority, to be the outgoing fun loving person that was inside of me all along.

Pledge day came and I once again started to feel nervous. I so wanted to make my great-grandmother Violet proud, and I knew she would be. As the minutes melted away and it came time for the Pledge Service, I knew I was going to be just fine. My temporary anxiety melted away and for a moment I could feel the presence of my great-grandmother Violet standing next to me as I received my pledge pin. I choked back tears, happy to be able to continue what my great-grandmother helped to start ninety-eight years ago. I feel absolutely honored to be joining Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority.

After the Pledge Service, I met up with a tour group to visit the beautiful International Rose Tea Garden and Pittock Mansion. I was able to get to know some of the Kappa Province Sisters as I walked through the gardens. We had so much fun taking time to literally smell the roses. Once the tour group returned to the hotel, it was time to get ready for Recognition night. Let me just start by saying that the food was amazing, the company was delightful, and I was tearing up while women were being recognized for their long term commitments to sorority. I knew right then that I would be a Sister for life. As I was getting ready to leave I started to feel sad that I would not be able to spend more time with the friends I had just made until next year. I loved my first Convention and I am proud to be a Pledge for Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority. I can’t wait for next year!