All posts by International Editor

A YOUNG GIRL’S DREAM OF BECOMING A SIGMA PHI GAMMA SISTER by Karla Cook

I am a daughter of a Sigma Phi Gamma (SPG) member from a small town where sorority started in Hartford City,
Indiana. My mom (Zeta Chapter) had so many friends in Sigma Phi Gamma and served the community as well as
working at our beautiful sorority park. I grew up playing in the park and by the time I was twelve I started helping in the
concession stand for the ballgames! This is when my dream started! I loved seeing the ladies bond in friendship and
commitment to do service work to help others make a difference. I wanted to make a difference!
I graduated from high school and moved to Indianapolis in 1979. I already knew all of my mom’s Alpha Chapter
Sisters. One of my Mom’s best friends, Judy Stafford, gave her SPG Sister Beverly Robbins in Indianapolis my name
and number. Judy told her I was so ready to Pledge into SPG. Beverly called me and the rest is history as to me
becoming a member of SPG. During my learning years of Sigma Phi Gamma I knew I wanted to be a part of the
leadership of our wonderful organization and to keep what our five Founders’ started in 1920! I was so enthusiastic
by spreading the word of SPG to everyone I met! I started serving on the Lambda Province Council in 1993/1994 as
Editor and loved every second of it. I knew one day I would serve on the highest level of SPG on the International
Council.
I thought my dreams were going to be derailed by my husband taking a job transfer to West Virginia in the summer of
1994. Besides my husband and children, SPG is the most important thing to me. Over the years, growing and
learning while being a member of SPG I became a better wife and mother, and made so many friends for life. I have
brought in so many talented women during the time I was in Indianapolis and West Virginia! They are all still
members today! I told my husband I couldn’t move to West Virginia because the closet Chapter was in Maryland – an
hour and a half away. He said can’t you start a Chapter? Well, of course I could! A year to the day that I promised my
husband that we would get settled before starting the Chapter – Xi Epsilon was born. In May, 2016 we celebrated our
Chapter’s 20 year anniversary!
My International leadership became a reality in July of 2012 as our membership elected me as the International
President! I was extremely honored! It was the most exciting time of my life serving the membership on the
International Council for five years. It is so rewarding and the bond you have with your Council Sisters is forever!
Take your love of SPG to your next level by being a candidate on your Province Council or if you qualify by already
holding a Province Office by running for an International Office.
When you are International Vice President one of your duties is to visit the International Business Office to see how it
is run and so forth. One of your duties is to take inventory of the historical records, the current business records, etc.
Another jewel in the inventory might be Past International Officers Pins/Rings. I’m not sure you know this but when
Past International Officers join the Zeta Chapter, their families return their International President Pin/Ring to the
International Business Office. You receive a diamond Pin/Ring at the end of your Presidency. It is your choice if you
want the pin, ring, or necklace made to your choosing for your hard work and dedication to SPG. When there are no
pins/rings available a brand new one is made. The Secretary/Treasurer told me not to worry that mine was taken care
of and a new one didn’t need to be made! To my surprise I was presented with Beverly Robbins Pin that was made
into a ring with the gavel. She is still with us and wanted me to have it so she would know who got it! I will always
treasure my ring from Beverly Robbins who inspired me and is one of my dearest Sisters!
Remember there is never a good time to run! You just have to do it! The rewards are priceless! The Nominating
Committee is here for you to answer any questions you may have.
Love Ya!
Karla Cook
International Nominating Committee

karla-cooks-ring

WHERE DID SUMMER GO? by International Editor, Lindy Heath

This week we slipped into Fall and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “where did Summer go”? With that same thought came the rush of excitement to get back home to Florida and begin the year with my Chapter Sisters! We have so many things planned for this year and the planning has been going on most of the Summer so now we get to see the fruits of our labors happen; from vision to reality. I sometimes wonder what it was like for our Founding Sisters as they planned for their Chapter. Did they have planning sessions over tea? Did they have different opinions on what and where to put their hard earned funds? Did they get excited each year to start on making those plans come true? There is no doubt in my mind that even with almost 100 years between them and my fellow Sisters, we are still much the same. Maybe not over tea and biscuits but we still love getting together to share ideas, laugh, and plan where our funds could be best used in our communities. Sisterhood is an experience that is felt not in just the telling of how much it means to us as Sisters serving our Sorority, but in sharing in those planning sessions, the start of the first meeting in the Fall of each year, and the joy of seeing our plans succeed. My hope is for every Sister to have that excitement, that feeling of Sisterhood as they work together because,
“Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma”.

HALLOWEEN WISHES by International President, Donna Collins

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At our home in Glenford, we live off of a gravel road and our closest neighbor is several acres away. In fact there are only seven houses in the two mile stretch of road. So, this means on Halloween there are no beggars. There aren’t big bowls of candy waiting to be shared. The pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns sit lonely on the porch.

This quiet, no visitor night leads me to think about the elderly in our community. For some folks every night of the year is quiet without visitors. I imagine only one plate at the table, no clatter of dishes and silverware in the kitchen, no laughter or noise.

Let’s challenge ourselves to find a senior lady to visit. Is there a Sister in the nursing home or assisted living facility – the one you always mean to visit but time gets away? Is there a person in your neighborhood who lives alone and rarely has guests? Just do it – just make 30 minutes in the next two weeks to go visit. Take a small pumpkin, a half-dozen cookies, a magazine, a puzzle – and visit. Share a cookie, read a story from the magazine, start the puzzle, share memories about Halloweens past.

I promise … our brooms will fly higher, our spirits will soar, and the moon will laugh and whisper – “Together they are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – those good women of Sigma Phi Gamma!”

Happy Halloween, Sisters!

WONDERFUL MEMORIES by Linda Bany, Nominating Committee

img_1045Once upon a time, a past International President encouraged me to step up and be a candidate for a Province office. Was I surprised? Yes, and flattered too, that she believed I had something to contribute at that level. So, I did run for an office and was successful.

After serving on my Province Council for a few years, that same special lady encouraged me to step up again and be a candidate for an International office. Of course, by this time my confidence level and experience had grown, so I believed I could and should take the opportunity.

Well, the rest is history. I had the experience of a lifetime. The wonderful Sisters that I served with and all of the members that I met along the way made it all so worthwhile and gratifying.

It was an honor and privilege to be elected International President of Sigma Phi Gamma and I was proud to be the first to wear the designated President’s Pin that year.

Now I am ‘paying it forward’ and encouraging you to step up to the next level and become a candidate for office. Please consider it! You will benefit and so will Sigma Phi Gamma.

Love,
Linda Bany
Nominating Committee

Great Opportunities to Serve on International Council by Liz

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As I sit here in my office trying to work with a 3 month old puppy at my feet, I am love struck by what surrounds me. My new lab pup Brandy has brought both joy and wonder into the house, but there is much more to see. I look around at all of the mementos from my time serving on the International Council.

The surf board from Long Beach, California brings back some wonderful memories as it was that convention that our beloved Linda Carr presented me with my Life Membership. I was very fortunate to have served with Linda as she was a lady who loved SPG, and it showed. Receiving my Life Membership from Linda was a joyful experience. But the ultimate joy for me as President, was awarding all my Sisters who achieved their 25, 50, and even 75 year milestones.

To my right there is a picture of our current President and Vice President who got me to do the standing OHIO with them at Gamma Province. I never imagined that I’d be a part of that image. But, I was fully in it with heart and soul. Simply put, I loved attending Province meetings as the VIO!

The point I am trying to get to, is what a terrific opportunity it is to serve on International Council. The traveling from the east coast to the west and a lot of places in between. The chance to meet so many wonderful women in Sigma Phi Gamma is absolutely the best ever. We as Sisters have touched so many lives over the years whether it is through our service work in the community, bringing a new Sister into the Chapter, or just spending time with your Chapter Sisters, it is all so great. Imagine for yourself, that great joy multiplied, in a role as International Officer.

If you’ve ever thought “I would love to lead this group of women” then I encourage you to step up. Seriously consider becoming a candidate for International office. Ask questions and you too will see how rewarding the work is.

Love to all,

Liz

Sigma Phi Gamma History or Tradition? by Cindy Stath

One of the things that I loved about being on the International Council was the opportunity to visit other Provinces. It was fascinating to me to see how we do similar things in different ways. On one trip, a “random” question led me to consider the difference between our Sigma Phi Gamma history and our traditions.

According to freedictionary.com, the words are defined as:
History
A chronological record of events, as of the life or development of a people or institution, often including an explanation of or commentary on those events.
Tradition
The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.

This history of Sigma Phi Gamma is recorded in our history books, in the appendix to our Constitution and Bylaws, and even in our Rituals. We cannot change our history. Our traditions, at the International, Province, or Chapter level, have grown out of our experiences. Traditions, as cherished as they are, can change as the Chapter, Province, or the organization as a whole, grows and develops. Traditions are rarely written down; members learn the traditions of their Chapter or their Province by experience.

For example, in many Provinces, it is the tradition that the VIO present the “Candlelighting Service.” The assignment of this privilege is not in the Province meeting outline, or any other official documents. It is not “wrong” for someone else to present the “Candlelighting Service.”
So, if one of the traditions in your Chapter or Province doesn’t work for the members any more, don’t be afraid to develop new traditions! Think of your family traditions,I know that my family traditions have changed as son-in-laws and grandchildren were added to the family. As we think ahead to our 100th Anniversary, think how exciting it is going to be to start new traditions for a new century of Sigma Phi Gamma!

Love to all,
Cindy Stath
Alpha Delta Chapter

MY COMMITMENT TO SPG by International Vice President, Deb Juracich

Hello!  My commitment to Sigma Phi Gamma is a huge part of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and grow in this wonderful organization. Recently, my commitment to the local Boy Scouts was rejuvenated, along with tackling some fears and pushing myself “outside my comfort zone” by attending Wood Badge.
Wood Badge was started in 1911 by Baden-Powell, founder of Boys Scouts, drawing upon the most current leadership models being used by corporate America, academia, and outdoor leadership organizations found in all corners of the world. Wood Badge is the highest level of adult Scout leader training available providing advanced leadership and team-building training for adult leaders.
My first intense, packed three-day experience was in early August at Camp Falling Rock in Ohio where I began to tackle a few of my fears: camping alone and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night to pee! I had said that I would “never” be able to take this course because I do not have the confidence or what is takes to complete it!  (Also said I would never be able to run for Province and International Office.) NEVER say NEVER it ALWAYS comes back to get you!
After some humorous lessons on how to set up the tent from my son and husband and almost demolishing my son’s Lego village with the tent poles, the art of setting up a tent was mastered. I also learned to not set up a tent in the house! I got to camp, set up my tent, and then realized I may be near something that looked like poison ivy, so I moved the tent – just to be sure!
It was really hot, but I did not want to drink a lot so I would not have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The first two nights I did not have to go to the bathroom. So, I thought, “I’ve got this!”  Yep, I got cocky! The third night I had to get up not once, but twice! Another lesson learned … do not get cocky! Got my shoes and pants on, grabbed the flashlight and away I went through the woods, across the field to the bathroom! Did not see any creatures or scary people that would come and take me away, just the beautiful sky filled with more stars then I could count. God knew I needed that boost of confidence! Second fear concurred!
Now onto the hard one…confidence! Wood Badge is expertly designed to stress you out, tie you in knots, and take you on an emotional roller coaster. Yep, that all happened, but it also did something amazing and unexpected … I began to change. I became more carefree (hard for a Type A), more understanding, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle any problem (big one as I tend to run/hide from conflict and problems!).  Walking away from the first weekend I gained lifelong friends, a renewed love of Scouting, and my confidence. Life is a long road, and I am now ready for the adventure!
So what does Boy Scouts have to do with Sigma Phi Gamma? A lot! These two organizations are similar in many ways. We both build friendships, value service, and help our community all while growing individuals personally. I challenge each of you to confront a fear, or do something new, or tackle something that makes you uneasy. You will not regret it! I am looking forward to my last weekend at Wood Badge camp in September to continue to grow as a leader and person! What are you going to do to push yourself “outside your comfort zone?”
I leave you with a quote that my Wood Badge Course Director, Steve, he told us…”Clear eyes, open heart…can’t lose!”
Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!

Ever Wonder Just How the LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND Got Started? By International President, Donna Collins

In 1940 at the Conference of the Southern Mountain Workers, a Committee on Health made its report and expressed its gratitude to Luella Foster Handel, then SPG International Welfare Secretary. Through Luella’s efforts, a separate health project, LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND, was established at the 1940 SPG Convention, and November was named “Health Month.”
The fund received its name at the 1942 SPG Convention, and the first letter of each word represents Luella’s initials. At that time, Luella felt that our members might hesitate to send small amounts of money to the local Centers that, individually, would be of little help; but, by putting these small individual amounts into one fund, collectively SPG could do much good.
The LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND was made up of a ten cent assessment of each of our Active Members and voluntary donations from any source, provided they were made without restrictions. In contrast to the SIGMA PHI GAMMA Health Project, no part of the LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND came from the International Treasury.
Each November the Chapter Welfare Secretaries collected and sent the assessments and donations to the International Welfare Secretary, who then presented the total in one check to the Chairman of the Health Committee at the conference of the Council of the Southern Mountains, Inc. The Health Committee used the funds, after approval of our International Welfare Secretary, on special health projects to benefit needy people in the area of all of our Centers.
The LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND has a record of wonderful accomplishments: maintaining hot lunch programs in remote mountain schools; helping to establish health and dental clinics; setting up nursing scholarships; providing vitamins, medicines and inoculations; assisting in making and publishing a survey and study, “Health Care Services and Facilities in the Southern Appalachians,” assisting in the making of a movie trailer in color film to use in health education; assisting in the compilation, publishing, and distribution of twenty thousand (20,000) copies of the booklet “Health Careers in the Appalachian South,” to attract graduating high school seniors to further education for health work; and supporting the Mobile Health Fairs.
It is truly amazing to read about the impact of the LITTLE FRIENDS HEALTH FUND – right from the very beginning. The information in this blog post comes right from the SPG website, members only: Governance tab, International, Appendix 2016 pdf. Visit the SPG website and take a moment to learn more about the Little Friends Health Fund … and so much more about your sorority!
Together we are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!
Until next time,
Donna
Donna Collins
International President

Founders’ Day…2016 by International Counselor Wendie McKnelly

It was such an honor to share Founders’ Day in Mesa, Arizona with so many dedicated sisters from Sigma Province. Donna Long who had just gotten out of the hospital with a broken wrist managed to get there. Milly Creighton, our Ninety-four (94) year old member who recently was hospitalized…arrived with her beautiful smile. Rosie Lytle, who is a 66 plus year member found her strength after a serious illness, rode with me so she could attend. The love of Sigma Phi Gamma runs deep and the vision of our Founders is ALIVE and WELL!
Wendie McKnelly
Nu Delta Chapter
International Counselor

International Photo Directory in the Works by Linda Bullington, International Historian

I’m so excited to get the International Photo Directory going! How cool will that be? You will be able to see our members listed with their name and Chapter. It will make it easy to find that Sister you just met in case you’ve forgotten her name, because you’ll be able to see her face! Or, you might have a phone call scheduled with a Sister you haven’t met yet, you’ll be able to look them up and have a face in mind while talking to them.
Getting your photo in is really easy to do. Simply have someone in your Chapter take a headshot of you using a digital camera or cell phone (stand against a solid color wall so you are the focal point not the background!) Please send names along with the photos, in the order of the photos so I get the correct name to each picture. Send the photo and names via email to:
historian@SigmaPhiGamma.com
The sooner you send it, the sooner you’ll be posted! Any questions please email me at the address above. Thanks!
Later, Linda Bullington- International Historian
As Members, We Are The History Of SPG!