Getting to Know one of our SPG Sisters by Mary Freeman, Theta Pi Chapter Editor

I would like to introduce to you Joan Wenrick, a 71-year SPG member of Theta Pi Chapter, Indianapolis, Indiana.


1. When were you initiated into SPG?

Answer: April 5, 1948

2. What is your most cherished or favorite story from a Province or International Convention?

 First Answer:  I was blessed to know for 10-15 years all 5 Founders while attending the Conventions when they were alive.  I was really close to Violet Pettit Tindall who was at the 25-year anniversary of SPG when the Convention was in North Carolina. While at the NC Convention I was invited into Violet’s home when she lived there during the Convention.  I also was close to Ferne Palmer Shick’s daughter, Joan, who was in our Theta PI, Indianapolis Chapter. 

Second Answer: When I went to Convention held in California in 1948-49, our Chapter hired a train car to have us travel to and from Convention that year.  We made many side trips while on that trip to Convention.  One was to be able to go all the way down into the Grand Canyon.  We were able to see the Southwest places that I longed to see all while with my Sisters in tow.  International Conventions are eye-openers especially to new members as you get a real feel for what they do on the International level of our Sorority.  Plus you get to see Sisters you have not seen in a year.  You also get to make new friendships as well as rekindle the old ones while at International Convention. 

3. How did you come to join the Sorority?

Answer: Helen Ritter, our own Kathy Anderson’s mother.  Two of Helen’s sisters were already in Sorority at the time.  There were five women that joined with me in 1948.

4. What is your most cherished memory or story with your Sorority Chapter Sisters?

Answer: Watching Helen Ritter marry and seeing all 7 of her children grow up and get married themselves.  I have a very close relationship and currently retain my friendship with each of her children.

5. What do you see for the future going into the 100 years of Sorority?

Answer: Being the age I am -keeping up with technology.  I still like my paper copies of the Lingo and Buddie.  I realize we need to live with technology in order to get the new members into our Sorority.


Strengthening Skills of the International, Province, and Chapter Organizers and Area Expansion Team for Optimum Impact

Shari Pash, Membership Strategist for Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, delivered her third webinar focused on membership retention and growth on March 23rd.  It was an hour packed with great information, strategies, tips, and encouragement.  To follow is my recap – if you couldn’t be on the webinar these notes might inspire you to watch the recording on the member side of the SPG website!

Let’s start with Why.  Simon Sinek a well-known author, business leader, and motivator helps us understand the WHY of what we do.  Everything we are doing to work on our recruiting and membership skills is part of discovering the Why of SPG.  It can be membership recruitment, community service, friendship, and so much more.

Next Shari talked about how the International and Province Organizers can help the Chapters they are partnering with.  She urged us to adapt the information she was sharing in our own roles – you don’t have to be an Organizer to use this information.

Receiving and Responding to Leads: How do our leads want to be communicated with – text, email, letters, phone calls?  How do we as key communicators work with potential members when their communication style may not be our most comfortable way to communicate?  We can be brave and try new things, or we can enlist help.  Shari stressed that membership development is not just the Organizer’s job.  Find that person in your Chapter that loves to text (or email, or write letters) and let her be the key contact with those who like to text (or email, or receive letters).  The added benefit of teaming up with a Sister in your Chapter is more interaction between the members, helps grow our friendships. 

How do you as a Province or International Organizer help your Chapters?  Let’s encourage members to recruit, it is our role to encourage all members to be in recruitment mode.  It is a layered process – International encourages AEX Team and Province and Chapter Organizers, Province Organizers encourage Chapter Organizers, Chapter Organizers encourage members.  This encouragement includes providing recruitment tools and learning their stories about why SPG is important to each of us.  In the coming months, new membership development tools will be produced that will help us all.  In the meantime, use the tools we have – membership brochure, Organizers’ handbook, etc.

Building relationships is key.  And remember, not all relationship building is in the form of face-to-face engagement.  We live in a digital world – maybe building relationships is digital and in-person.  What works for each of us and our personal style will allow us to be the most productive, however Shari encouraged us to try new things!  And remember, it’s not how WE want things to happen, it’s about that potential new member – how does SHE prefer to engage!

Share your experiences with your SPG Sisters: Let everyone know that in SPG we are all recruiters of members.  We need to help all members know that they have the skills to carry out the same activities as International, Province, and Chapter Organizers and AEX Team members.  We need to model what others can do.  Shari suggests we start with storytelling – a brief story, very succinct. Who are the storytellers in our Chapters and Provinces?  Let them help us develop the stories until we get comfortable doing it on our own.

Ratio of numbers: Define our prospects.  Do prospects exist in groups you are already exposed to or a member of organizations like the PTA, Chamber of Commerce, Church organizations, etc.  Where are the prospects?  Do we have membership goals at the Chapter, Province, and International levels for new members?  Setting goals helps us reach towards where we want to go … to work hard, and to partner to meet our goals.

Time Blocking – Battle Distractions.  It is a commitment of time to do this work for membership growth, it’s not hit or miss or by chance.  Whatever the time commitment is to your work as an Organizer you must block time in your calendars so that you are focused and working on membership.  Don’t be distracted, make a commitment to Organizer work every week.

Build a bunker around your ‘membership time.’  Set aside time and space to focus on the tasks at hand.  When preparing for your membership work time, get all your provisions together (coffee, laptop, list of leads, note pad, ink pen).  Next is to focus without interruption by your email dinger, phone, Facebook.  Shari described this as ‘sweeping for mines’ getting all of the distractions out of the way.  Don’t forget, share what you’re doing with others in your home or the space you’ve set aside for your membership time – ask for support so that you won’t be distracted during your set aside time.  Let someone else walk the dog, answer the door, etc.  You will be so much more productive when you’re focused.

The SPG strategic plan is a tool for all of us to use and helps us stay focused.  Last year the strategic plan was released at convention, it is your tool and guide for how we go and grow.  It is key to read, know, and learn about the framework of the strategic plan so that you can discover SPG’s overall framework for the future.  Some of the key words Shari found that impressed her were: energy, future, sustainable.  The strategic plan is a great tool for Organizers and AEX Team members.  She urged everyone to read the plan and find ways to use some of the strategies to do our work as we seek to retain and recruit members.  Key goals of the strategic plan are membership, meetings, governance, awards, etc.  The strategic plan demonstrates a thought-out process for the future of SPG.

Educate yourself so you can educate members about the SPG mission, vision, and strategic plan.

Shari talked about a SAMPLE DISCOVERY TOOL to use that will be refined based on feedback from the webinar.  Relational learning is important, especially for Organizers, AEX Team, and leaders.  How do our potential new members spend their time, what causes are they interested in, what are their extra-curricular activities, how do they see family as a priority?  What motivates our members and potential members?  Knowing these things will help us find the connections we need to be authentically interested in potential members – and the potential members will be more interested in SPG when they realize how sincere we are about getting to know them.  When sharing information about SPG, are the individuals you are speaking (or writing) with interested, asking questions, do you see their passion for wanting to be part of something wonderful like SPG?  The sample discovery tool can help us organize questions with potential members.  No scripts, but getting comfortable with the best way to connect.

We want to make sure the people we are approaching are good fits for our organizational culture, especially at the Chapter level.  It is important that people are comfortable with our mission, activities, and ideals or it will result in a lot of recruitment, Pledging, Membership – only to lose that person because we aren’t who they thought we were – and they aren’t who we’d hoped for.

SHARING INFORMATION STORYTELLING: Going back to the why, storytelling is key in the recruitment efforts, making it real.  Sharing what’s in it for a member is so important.  Sharing stories across Chapters and Provinces – encouraging the heart and motivation for member recruitment and retention will help everyone feel encouraged and responsible for membership growth.  And, my best guess is that it will make all of us more engaged members.

SPG BENEFIT STATEMENTS: Shari shared that there is going to be a tool we’ll create – with benefit statements.  The document will help us better articulate our sisterhood, and the positive difference we are making in our communities – all while staying focused on the SPG mission.  Maybe there is a lady in your Chapter who is more reserved and may need some encouragement – and maybe having the SPG benefit statements available might help her feel more comfortable in the effort to recruit her friends and associates.

OBJECTIONS: We know there are ladies who throw up objections when we approach them about SPG.  Shari asked the group what objections they get from the ladies we approach?  What prevents ladies that have an interest, resist becoming a Pledge?  Once they are interested, what stops them from becoming a member?

Objections: time, work, family obligations, children/child care, transportation, etc.

Shari is developing responses to these common objections so that we are able to have intentional recruitment strategies that also address objections.

FOLLOW UP: The Social Secretary is a great right-hand worker with the Organizer.  This can become a mentorship role – how can the Organizers and AEX Team work with the Social Secretaries in our Chapters?  How can the Social Secretary help with follow-up to leads – notes, drop off a small SPG token, etc?  Remember, this is a way for Organizers to engage with other ladies in the Chapter to help.

Shari reminded all of us involved in follow up to block time for the tasks we need to do.  Good intentions often get lost and before you know it days, weeks, and even months slip by.

Timeliness is key.  If we aren’t on top of follow up with the ladies we are approaching they may become less interested or feel like we’re not really interested in them if we don’t stay in contact. 

Continuing conversations and documenting information so that everyone’s on the same page is important – we don’t want to be walking all over each other’s efforts.  And we want to be organized.  Next steps must always be confirmed, remember to block time. 

RELEVANT VOICE MAILS and EMAILS: Our communications must be short and sweet.  Long drawn out emails are a turn off.  Remember our messaging must be succinct.  A potential member may be reading information on their phone and tablet – too much is just too much.

Persuasive language is key.  Shari will be working with the Advisory Committee to introduce some persuasive language that can be used to stay on message and show potential members the value of SPG.

Shari suggests when calling on a potential member we do so as a peer to make it more comfortable than wearing an ‘official hat’ for SPG – being yourself and being natural is best.

We must be committed to helping potential members experience a strong value for their new commitment/membership in SPG.

Connectivity, introductions, events, and engagement are key to engaging potential members.  Remember sharing your personal story and benefits from being a part of SPG will go a long way.  Take on the role of a hostess, for instance you might say to someone you’ve invited to an SPG meeting or event: “At our upcoming meeting/social, I’ll meet you at the door.”  You become the SPG welcome-wagon.

AEX/ORGANIZER: AEX Team members were encouraged to look at their structure and schedule time with organizers in their assigned area – what does this look like now, are you even doing it?  How are AEX Team members working to stay connected with Province Organizers?  Information sharing is important.  Monthly phone meetings or Zoom meetings will be beneficial to staying focused on the work to be done in each AEX Team member’s area.  Remember having membership goals is important – something to strive for.  Make it fun. 

Staying connected by email, social media, or whatever means that works is very important.  Sharing information that is timely and relevant keeps people engaged.  All the ways we communicate must be timely.

Help each other be accountable for goals – determine your goals together as the AEX Team, Organizers, International Council – start with the strategic plan.  Then hold each other accountable.  A support system for growth is key to stay energized and motivated. 

I’VE JOINED NOW WHAT?  How are we doing with why a lady joined?  Now what?  How do we help them engage?  We can develop a plan – 30, 60, 90 days – that includes small bite-size activities (ex. In the first 30 days: attend a business meeting, participate in a social, read the Chapter bylaws, read the SPG strategic plan).  A tool is being developed around a framework that will give new members a road map to learning and growing in sorority.  The tool can be printed on paper, a PDF that is emailable, online, etc.  Input is welcome for key points in the development of on-boarding new members.

MEMBER TO MEMBER ENGAGEMENT: A sample document was shared that can be used to develop a profile for each potential member.  It can help us stay organized and work together to get to know a potential member, it is also an accountability measure among those ladies sharing the responsibility of communication and encouraging someone to join SPG.  Creating a hospitable culture of member recruitment is important.

SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT: There is so much we can do with social media.  And, there are Chapters who do not want to use social media, of course they won’t or don’t have to use it.  Shari strongly suggested that every Chapter consider adding social media as one element of your recruitment efforts.  How do you use Facebook, Instagram, etc. as your friend?  We do need to help one another identify at least one person who is good at using social media in every Chapter to join in the recruitment efforts.

International Council and others are already working in the social media arena and we can do more.  Think of social media as digital networking.  How do we stay “front of mind” with folks using digital tools available to all of us?

How do we use our new database program, Membee, to capture information about our members and their skills – this is another way we can find the ladies who would like to help with social media in our Chapters and Provinces.  We can create a ‘skills’ check off in Membee that will capture this information when ladies update their profiles. 

Future generations are our future … we need to stay focused on new things so that we don’t miss opportunities.

Shari wrapped up the webinar by saying she looks forward to seeing us all in Wichita!

There were 58 Sisters registered for the webinar with 30 actually participating.  One group sent a message that they had a group of 5 together in one place to participate.  Shari asked for any ideas we have to be sent to her by email at

It was another great webinar to help us grow membership in SPG.

Much love, 


Donna Collins for the SPG Advisory Committee

Deb Juracich, Chair; Liz Cochrane, Donna Collins, and Cindy Stath

On Our Way To San Antonio by Dee Dee Rupp

For myself and two sorority sisters, our recent Province trip was almost “the trip that wasn’t.”  Bad weather was expected and my husband, Dave, insisted that I cancel the entire trip.  However, as much as Dave would like to control me, I am uncontrollable (hee, hee)!  The three of us had discussed our options, checked weather and mapped out what we thought would be the best route.  This route kept us off the main highways, where we could seek help in small towns along the way if needed.  In the end, we were convinced the route, and stops made along the way was the path which God had intended.

During a stop in Cisco, TX, three eateries were suggested by a local resident.  We chose Waverly’s, a small café with famous meatloaf sandwiches, according to the person who suggested the place.  The proprietors greeted us with a warm welcome.  The store itself was filled from top to bottom and on each wall with children’s games, books, toys and other fun items.  We immediately felt comfortable and, oh my, the food was not disappointing.  The male owner, Sean, came to our table with samples of their homemade Sweet Potato Soup.  One of the best soups I have ever tasted, and I am a cook myself.  Sean then asked if he could sit with us and we agreed.  He proceeded to tell us about the café/store and we visited a lot about food.  During our discussion, it was mentioned that my mom wrote a cookbook, and Sean asked if he could purchase one.  He was very interested in my mom’s recipes for German foods.  Sean and his wife had also written a book and before we left, he gave us a complimentary copy.  We took pictures with Sean and his wife and were on our way to San Antonio once again.  The book made each of us think anything we want to accomplish can be achieved.  It was full of scripture and recipes and told of their loss of a child (Waverly) and their leap of faith to start their own business in order to spend time with their family.  Many positive events happened along their journey to success and have brought them to where they are in their life right now.  While this story was by far the most inspiring adventure along the way, we have many more pleasant memories from the journey to and from Province that weekend.

Yes, our journey was extraordinary.  And upon reaching our destination, Province proved to be just as exceptional.  Seeing all of our sorority sisters in one place and spending quality time with them was a true treat!  We ate and laughed and, of course, had motivating meetings as well.  I even did a little twerking demonstration.  For those of you who don’t know what twerking is, you will just have to ask the next time you see me (hee, hee)!  During meetings, we were encouraged to increase our membership as well as our own involvement.  As you know, a great opportunity is ahead of us to do just that, International Convention in Wichita, KS.  It is a time for us to shine and show off our hospitality skills as we ‘skip’ down the “Yellow Brick Road” with our International sisters!  We are prepared to work hard and have fun as well. 

I’m sure each of us have different memories of the weekend, but one of my favorites was getting to spend time with our VIO, Rene Chenault, International Service Secretary.  We had a wonderful time down at the San Antonio Riverwalk.  It was kind of enchanting, with the music, lights, aroma of delicious foods, laughter, conversations and especially the parade of Lantern Floats.  I will never forget my Province experience in San Antonio, TX.  Thank you to all who worked to make it special!

The SPG Province meetings inspired me to be more involved in sorority and community.   Who knows, maybe in 5-10 years you will see me as a Province or International Officer.  You might hear me plug my newly inspired book, “It’s a DeeDee Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand”, coming soon to book stores near you!  Meeting Sean and his wife, attending the Province meetings and spending time with my sorority sisters have inspired me to write this blog, convinced me to go back to school and get my Master’s degree, and get involved in the ALZ foundation in Hays, KS.  My biggest dream is to convince backers to build a much needed Alzheimer’s/Dementia living facility in the Hays area.  Dream Big!

Hope this little blog has inspired and uplifted anyone who reads it.  May God bless!  Forever friends in friendship!  

With Love, and Friendship and Inspiration.

DeeDee Rupp

Mu Eta Chapter

Hays, KS 

Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! by Debbie Henize, International Historian

I am entering pictures into our SPG Online Directory.  I have been using some group pictures that I have received from Facebook or emails.  The problem with this is when you take a group picture and remove just one person the image can be distorted.  I am using them anyway because I would rather have a picture with less quality than no picture at all.  If you have a better picture, please send it to me including names.  I am trying to get as many pictures as possible included before the International Convention.

I Read Your Facebook Post and I Cried, by Donna Collins

Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook hoping to find some happy photos, great quotes, and service activities of my Sorority Sisters from across the country. My search was easy – I saw a photo of Sisters out to dinner enjoying each other’s company, I found Province meeting updates and information, and then I happened upon a string of politically motivated posts – and I was surprised that these ugly words and discriminating rants about women were being posted by MY Sorority Sisters. 

My first instinct was to ‘unfriend’ every single Sigma Phi in the list. My second thought was to post something myself letting the ladies know how offensive their comments were to me. Instead, I closed out of Facebook and picked up my SPG notebook (full of notes and official SPG documents) for some guidance. As you and I know, I’m not perfect. I’ve certainly made bad choices, had my own rants (usually reacting to something that I felt was unfair or defending a Sister’s honor) and I’ve hurt people’s feelings and even ruined a friendship. So, while I’m not perfect, I’m not dumb – I am learning to be more thoughtful and considerate and I try to let past lessons help me be a better person.

I flipped through the notebook. I read the Pledge and Creed. I looked at photos of our International Council. I read the Friendship Service in the Rituals Handbook. I even read the words to several songs. All these things kept taking me back to words like – love, friendship, respect, care, and encouragement. Not once did I see negative phrases, belittling of strangers, or name calling about people different from me.

I asked myself, is it my role to call these Sisters out for posting what must surely be their personal opinions on Facebook? Probably not. I wasn’t sure about the answer to this question, but I knew posting about it on Facebook would not be productive.

I wondered if my Sisters cared that other SPG members were reading their Facebook comments and they were offended. Were they aware that not everyone in Sigma Phi Gamma is a Republican? or a Democrat?  Certainly, they are aware that SPG Sisters are of different races, religions, and political backgrounds. We are, in fact a beautiful, unique, and slightly diverse group of women – truth is we aren’t diverse enough (but that’s another BUDDIE Blog post).

Mostly though, I wondered how these types of comments might be keeping someone from considering membership in SPG.  I mean, really, who wants to invest time and resources in an organization that appears from a string of comments to be made up of women who are disrespectful, out of touch, and dare I say racist.

I wondered if my Sisters understood that a post at 5:45 PM about an SPG fundraiser, and a post at 7:00 PM calling elected officials ugly names and belittling women created a clear and unmistakable connection between them and SPG.

All of this kept nagging at me – for weeks. We are all the face of Sigma Phi Gamma – we seek to bring new women into our organization. We say we want to grow our Sorority and our words and actions matter. I sought counsel from a Sister who is a wise leader and she suggested I write a BUDDIE Blog post. Thank you, Robin.

At a time when we are working hard on growing our membership and retaining members, there is no room for political rants about one party or the other. There is no room ever to talk disparagingly about women, especially women in service to their country (even if you don’t agree with their priorities). 

Do you think our Sisters would have voiced the same derogatory words that were posted on Facebook in a room full of SPG Sisters – to their face? I doubt it. Just because we aren’t in the presence of people physically or in the same room doesn’t mean that others aren’t watching, reading, and listening. 

Would you want to be a member of an organization that says it stands for friendship, service, and community yet its members are belittling elected officials, refusing to open our doors to women of different races or religions? I doubt it. 

I’m not saying we can’t voice a concern, call out a truth, or hold each other accountable. What I am saying is that I hope we can strive to be the women who recite, believe, and live the SPG Pledge and Creed. Let’s help one another keep the conversation positive. We are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!  

I pledge myself to uphold the moral character of the Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority and to make myself worthy of our sorority pin. All this I promise with the realization of the helpfulness it will bring to my Sisters and to me.

Check Out The Pictures, by International Historian Debbie Henize

Hello sisters,

Did you know that the online directory is available on our website?  Try it out.  All you need to do is type in the name of the person you are looking for and the directory will search them out.  You can also search by Chapter or Province.  We are still working on all of the features, but it is a powerful tool.  Start to use it.  It is easy.  I bet you did not know that the new online directory will contain photos.  It will take some time to get all the pictures uploaded, but it is a great feature of the new database.  Thanks to Pat Herweg, Eta Sigma Chapter members were the first that  I  uploaded into the directory.  I will upload the existing photos from the photo directory on to Membee but if you want a different photo included please email the photo to me along with the name of the member.  I can not wait to see all your beautiful faces.

Debbie Henize
International Historian

Omicron Province Weekend by Pat Herweg

I came home from Omicron Province weekend and took a two-hour nap!  It was much needed as everyone had so much fun, and good business was conducted.  Beta Alpha Chapter was a superb host.  Whatever we needed or wanted was there for us.

New Sisters were in attendance at Omicron Province weekend.  And what joy new Sisters bring.  Such life and energy they breathe into our Province.  After the business meeting, the conference room was turned into Churchill Downs for the running of the 90th Omicron Kentucky Derby.  What fun!

I was fortunate enough to spend time with a wonderful woman that I have only seen from afar, VIO Renee Chenault.  Renee was my roomie for the weekend.  The kindness Renee showed all of us was wonderful.  She made it a point to talk and get to know as many Sisters as possible in the limited time she had with us.  Renee added to the meeting with grace and brevity.  She saw needs and graciously helped us through them.  All Renee’s Derby winnings were returned to the Host Chapter, and she donated her 50/50 winnings to our meager Province account.  It was my honor as outgoing President to spend time with Renee.

On a practical note, my house was cleaned as part of my preparations for Omicron Province weekend…Renee spent the first night of her visit as a guest in my home.

Tau Province Service Project – Center for Pediatric Mental Health Foundation, Dayton Children’s Hospital

This is a photo of Dr. Gregory Ramey accepting the Tau Province Service Project check in the amount of $2,053.00, from Kelly Markley of Mu Epsilon Chapter.  On behalf of the Center for Pediatric Mental Health Foundation at Dayton Children’s Hospital, Executive Director Dr. Ramey graciously accepted the donation.  The Pediatric Mental Health Foundation helps fund mental health services for children in crisis due to abuse, drugs, etc.

VIO Debbie Henize thought it might be nice to share this picture taken during Tau Province weekend.  By the way, Debbie did a fantastic job for us and I loved meeting her.  She is a tremendous asset to Sigma Phi Gamma.

 Conny Poole

Tau Province President