Welcoming Our Sisters
Donna Collins, International Counselor
My Mother died on February 10, 2016. I miss her every single day. My Mom was a member and leader in the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) for a very long time (it was to her what SPG is to me). My Mom saw her membership as a way to have meaningful friendships, volunteer for Veterans and their families, and to support the organization through local and regional leadership. You can easily see how our love of ALA and SPG mirror each other – friendship, service, and community.
When we sold our Mom’s home in Florida after her death I had her mail forwarded to my home in Ohio. I still receive, now almost two years since her death, the ALA magazine. I read it because – well in some small way – holding the magazine somehow makes me think about how my Mother held the magazine and read every page (like we read the BUDDIE).
In the February 2018 issue of the ALA magazine there are a half-dozen articles that can easily translate to issues we deal with, and care about, in SPG. One that really struck home was about membership, here’s my take from the article put into an SPG focus:
MAKING YOUR MEMBERSHIP MEANINGFUL
Loving the new Sister. We must help new Sisters gain a sense of belonging and gain an understanding of our commitment to friendship, service, and community.
Listen more than you speak. Learn about what interests your new Sister and make connections to your service projects in ways that are meaningful to her.
Invite, and, over Invite. Assume that your Pledge or new Sister wants to attend and participate in every business meeting and opportunity for social or service engagement. Just because one thing doesn’t fit in her calendar doesn’t mean the answer will be ‘no’ in the future.
Be reliable. Do what you say you’re going to do. Show up and do your part. You are a role model for Pledges and new Sisters – show them the SPG way.
Stick to it. Show your pride in SPG and its traditions. Helping a Pledge or new Sister understand services, rituals, and traditions grows the love of our Founders, members, leaders, and our entire organization.
Tick tock, tick tock. When meeting with Pledges and new Sisters be sure to be on time, keep meetings to the stated time, and respect everyone’s schedule and other time commitments.
Confidences are for keeping. When you’re getting to know your Pledge or new Sister you may share confidential personal information. Don’t gossip or share her business, and expect the same from her. Trust is key to new relationships.
Communications. Always extend good will and be positive. When possible make your communications personal – by phone for instance instead of, or in addition to, an email.
We know the more we work together, the more we delight in new friendships. The more we put our best foot forward, the more we encourage deeper friendships. Through these efforts we become better people. Let’s make our Pledges and new Sisters know how much they are valued and welcomed to Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority!
Hello Sisters! I am writing this post from an American Eagle plane headed to Cincinnati returning from Omega Province. What a great experience!
I was a little intimidated when I saw so many current and past International Officers in attendance. Talk about pressure!! They were all so kind and helpful and encouraging.
Nu Nu Chapter of Omega Province hosted a fabulous annual meeting. They had all the details covered and hosted 78 people at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Tampa. I saw a lot of familiar faces but also a great deal of new faces. I made new friendships and I am so grateful for how comfortable they made me feel. As I told them, I felt like I was home. My roommates, the Omega Province Council, were fantastic and did not even mention my snoring.
Thank you to Sharon Hilton who helped me do Facebook Live. I didn’t realize how easy it was. I am not a great photographer but it was nice to see that so many sisters from across the country commented on our post. Lambda Province next weekend is your turn. Let’s see if you ladies can post also. I would love to see you all enjoying yourselves.
The encouragement and help that I received was amazing. Although I am a little tired, I am excited to go again. I can not wait to visit Kappa Province in Kansas.
All my love,
There are three levels of sorority: Chapter, Province and International. Chapter sisters you see monthly or more. Province level sisters you see less often, hopefully, getting together with them at the three Roundtable luncheons and for the annual Province weekend. International level sisters you see even less, generally once a year if lucky, at the International Convention. Of course, there are exceptions to every scenario.
Iota Province covers both Oregon and Washington states. Because they cover a lot of land, each state holds their own Roundtables luncheons- Pre- Province, Pre- International and the Service Roundtable.
Each Chapter takes a turn hosting the Roundtables, they choose the location, decorate if desired, provide centerpieces and or favors; some Chapters cook the luncheon, others choose a favorite restaurant. Some have speakers or entertainment. Some hold drawings and /or 50/50’s. No matter what is offered, it’s always something I look forward to!
Roundtables are a good event to share with a potential member- someone you want to invite to join sorority, it’s a way to show your guest a little more of what we are all about.
On January 20th I attended Iota Province’s, Oregon Chapters Roundtable. I’m a sister of an Oregon Chapter. It’s always fun to see sisters from other Chapters as well as getting together with my own Chapter sisters. The laughter flows; you share ideas and have a nice lunch together.
On January 27th Barb N. and I traveled 2 hours north to attend the Washington Chapters Roundtable. Going up north is something we look forward to because we see these sisters just a few times a year. Barb has a niece in a Washington Chapter so it’s fun to see her and our other Washington sisters. Attending this Roundtable was a sister who had recently moved to Washington from Indiana, Jill. Jill is considering starting a new Chapter in Washington, one close to where she lives. Growth in SPG is exciting so we had a lot to talk about. I shared one of my niece’s names with Jill, as a potential member.
This same weekend, Omega Province, located in Florida, held their annual Province weekend. I’ve joined those ladies in Florida so I know they have a fun- filled Province weekend! This year their theme was pirates and their costumes- as seen on Face Book- were fantastic! I could tell they were having a grand time and wished I were with them! Even though I wasn’t, my spirit was lifted by seeing the pictures and videos they shared!
I will miss my own Province weekend this year because as an International Officer, I have an assigned visitation that same weekend. I’ll miss the fun my Province sisters have but I know they will keep me posted with photos and videos so I can remotely share in their fun.
In fact, I have not only one Province visitation, but three! I get to go and join sisters in 3 Provinces around the country for their Province gatherings! I’m looking forward to each visitation; I will better get to know my sisters in each location!
Attending two Roundtables in January and seeing the fun my sisters at Omega’s Province had, boosted my spirits and I’m looking forward with anticipation to my visitations!
March to me is an interesting month. You so hope winter is over, however, it can be unusually cold in Indiana in March and we have been known to have ice storms. But hope persists! When John and I were trying to pick a date to get married we chose early March instead of late February. It just seemed like it was more “spring like.” So, when I was talking to by Daughter-in-law about a date for her baby shower and I was explaining to her I only had a couple of weekends free in February due to sorority events, unknowingly she picked the first weekend in March. She said she thought it sounded more like spring! I agreed.
As we look toward March we all hope for Spring and new beginnings and new growth. This is the time when we want to sweep away the debris from winter and refresh and brighten things up! I would like for us to do the same thing within our chapters. I know in my own chapter we get complacent at times and we need to refresh our thoughts regarding our dedication to SPG. Let’s regenerate ourselves to look for new members and to approach potential members with the enthusiasm and love for this organization that it deserves. The responsibility of growing our membership falls on all of us. It is not possible for one person alone to make it happen.
I had one more thing I wanted to share again with you in case you missed it, regarding service, which isn’t my job as an officer however, it crossed my desk as Editor and it stuck with me. It came from Mu Tau chapter in Everett Washington, Maria McCracken, Editor. She shared a quote “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, JR.
I close with this, I think we as Sigma Phi Sisters have hearts of grace and we just need to go out and share our love of sorority!
Meetings, meetings, meetings! I don’t know about the you, but some days I feel like all I get done is go to or participate in meetings! Do you ever feel like you spend so much time in meetings that nothing ever gets done?!? Me too!
As your Sigma Phi Gamma Parliamentarian, may I suggest that when any of us feel that our meetings are no longer productive, we go back to the basics? Robert’s Rules of Order serves our organization, and many others, as the guide for productive and effective methods of conducting the business of the organization.
Did you know that our SPG Rituals book (found on the Documents section of the members only side of the SPG website) contains the order of business for Chapter, Province, and International meetings? The Chapter order of business can be found on page 21, the Province and International follow. This order of business should not only be familiar to the President, but to all members as well. The members of the organization are as responsible to ensure that meetings are effective and productive as the presiding officer. It is our job to participate in the meeting, and to avoid “derailing” the meeting by failing to follow the order of business.
Please remember these important tips for effective meetings:
1. Follow the order of business.
2. Be sure that a quorum is present to address any matter that requires a vote.
3. Items for “action” must be brought to the member body in the form of a motion, properly seconded as needed. No discussion of the matter may take place without a motion!
4. Keep accurate records, the minutes of the meeting are essential to serve as the history of business of the body!
5. Be a responsible, respectful, and engaged member. Effective meetings require active officers, and active members! Listen to the speaker, pay attention to the matters at hand, and be ready to actively participate!
As your Parliamentarian, I am just a phone call or email away to help answer your questions, to give advice, and to translate Robert’s Rules of Order! I relish the challenge of researching your questions and concerns!
Love to all,
Alpha Delta Chapter
Overwhelmed in the New Year? Take a Break!
At this time of year, thanks to holiday weekends in January and February, many of my Sisters and I have a little time to relax, linger over beverages of choice, and read! It was wonderful. My 2018 started with several new books: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink; Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard; and Obama: An Intimate Portrait by photographer Pete Souza.
These recently released books offer many personal and professional insights. For me, the opportunity to see the world through each author’s research, study, experience, and opinions opened my mind and heart up to possibilities – what we might do, what we will never do, and what we must do! All three books are relevant to conversations happening around the water cooler or dinner table, but I particularly want to highlight Pink’s book When.
Robert Frost wrote, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” So true—and yet we routinely ignore new opportunities under the guise of being busy. When speaks right to this point and can help each of us stay focused on the self-care necessary to ensure our success in 2018.
Pink talks about “the power of restorative breaks.” If you’re like me, you have a regularly updated to-do list. Pink suggests creating a complementary “break list.”
At first glance, this seemed slacker-like to me. Who plans to take breaks and do less work in an already too long day—especially in the arts?
When suggests differently. Might we work more efficiently if we take some measures to restore our health and focus? He believes we should take three breaks a day, following a prescribed method.
Your break list should have three columns: time, duration, and what you’re going to do. Pink then offers a menu of breaks: Micro, Moving, Nature, Social, and Mental Gear Shifting. Each has some redeeming qualities due to its duration, ease, or our own level of comfort. In short:
• The micro-break is easy to do right at your desk—taking a moment to rest your eyes, hydrate with water, and stretch. (If you have a stand-up desk, this break is even easier to accommodate amid your busy day!)
• The moving break urges us to do just that—move! Take a walk, do some basic yoga at your desk, or venture out on a “group break” with your co-workers to plank or power walk together.
• The nature break encourages us to breathe fresh air, walk, or just find a place to sit quietly taking in the world around us. Pink says that if you can’t go outside (like those of us in Ohio suffering through a cold, snowy January!), then pretend you’re outside – viewing the world around you outside a nearby window.
• The social break is likely the easiest for all of us in the arts. We know the power of conversation and just catching up – we call it networking and it can be done at the OAC’s Riffe Gallery or a coffee shop!
• My friends who are yoga lovers will most certainly love the mental gear shifting break that asks us to reserve time to meditate, practice controlled breathing, and lighten up with some music or a podcast.
Let’s imagine how these breaks have the power to add significance to our lives!
Until next time,
Note: This BUDDIE Blog Post was taken from my executive director article found in the Ohio Arts Council E-News, January, 2018.
Do you like winter? Some love it. Some hate it. For those of you who don’t remember, I live in southern Ohio. For the past several years we have not had any significant snow fall or severe weather. This year we are not getting a great deal of snow but we are getting some pretty cold temperatures. The odd thing is that in January we had record highs and record lows in the same week. My husband is a school bus driver. I don’t mind telling you that I am so jealous. As a write this late at night, my husband who usually goes to bed at 8:00 pm comes out of the bedroom and sits down to watch tv. I ask him what is wrong. He says no school. I spent the whole day cleaning while he rested in his chair and now I have to go to work and he gets another day off. I must not be living right!! I guess it will all get even when I leave him for 4 weekends from late January through March to visit with all of you. See many of you in the coming weeks.
I’ve been asked to share my “virtual” membership story. Sorority for me began with an internet search. I was looking for friendship so I googled friendship organizations. You see I’m relatively new to the Saint Petersburg area of Florida. (My friends know I’m a proud Hoosier from northern Indiana.) Yes, I’ve made friends at work but those friendships seem to stay at work. SPG came up as a result of my internet search, though the website information then was quite limited. My next step forever changed my life. I went on Facebook and began messaging with Nancy Hargiss, who then forwarded my information to Lou Young. This is when things started to get exciting! Lou invite me to my first sorority social. We iced cookies or cupcakes (I can’t remember which) for veterans. It was so much fun working together to benefit those who’ve served our nation. And I felt truly welcomed into the group. My experience was so great that I knew right away that I wanted to join that circle of friends. However, reality soon kicked in. My amazing sisters of Xi Theta Chapter are well over an hours drive away. My crazy work schedule didn’t allow me the time to participate. I felt like I was letting everyone down 😕. I’d even considered withdrawing my membership. During my Chapter’s annual power meeting, I mentioned how I miss out on monthly meetings because of my work hours and distance. We decided to give FaceTime (Apple’s version of Skype) a try and it worked! Since then attending meetings virtually has been successful. So successful that I believe virtual membership could be a solution to attend sorority meetings for many women. Technology could be a means to stay connected with sisters separated from their Chapter by miles, health issues, bad weather, lack of transportation, etc. After all, virtual members are really just like other active members except we attend meetings using a smart phone, tablet, or computer. There are now three virtual members of Xi Theta Chapter. Virtual members are an important part of my plan of start a new traditional Chapter in my community. I happily continue to search for friendships to build my SPG circle of friends.
With love in SPG,
Virtual Chapter Committee
I want to ask each of you a favor for the coming year 2018. We have so many people who don’t have enough money to buy many of the necessities they need in life. So whenever you can spare some extra money while shopping at the grocery, drug store, a Wal-Mart, etc. Please purchase things to donate to your local food panty where you live. Some very important items that can’t be bought with money if a person is on assistance or without work are: bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, dish soap, sanitary pads, and tampons as well as any other personal items like shaving cream, disposable razors for men and women. You can imagine if you couldn’t have these things in your home how embarrassing it could be for you and your family members to not be clean and smell fresh when you go to work, or your kids go to school. Most food pantry’s welcome these items to be able to give them out. Many also will take good, clean clothing, coats and shoes to make available to those who come in for food. Even clean towels and wash cloths and bedding or blankets. By being kind and thoughtful to all of mankind, no matter what their circumstances, should give you each peace of mind that you have made a difference in the lives’ of those in your community not as blessed as you and your family are. So, I challenge you each to do this at least once a month in 2018. I can’t imagine not being able to feed my family and see that they have the basics needed to be clean and feel good about themselves. Please, accept my challenge and you will be blessed abundantly in ways you never thought possible in the coming year! God bless each of you!
PS – Do this in the name of Sigma Phi Gamma, and you can count this as hours for shopping, and the amount you spend as Intangibles on your Chapter’s Service Report and Income & Expense Report for 2018!
Many of you know that I have transferred my membership from one Chapter to another several times. Life has a tendency to bring about change such as a new job, moving, etc., that prompts a transfer to a Chapter closer geographically. Way back, when I moved from Theta Pi Chapter, Indianapolis to Muncie, IN, I had no way to participate in Chapter meetings while I was in transition to Alpha Chapter, Hartford City IN. Years later, when I moved from Lambda Phi Chapter, Bloomington IN to Dyer IN, my Chapter was in the process of hosting Lambda Province Meeting. When I announced my new job and impending move, the President’s first comment was “you ARE NOT going to transfer until after Province!” So, I attended Lambda Phi meetings by phone. I would call one of the members, answer roll call, they would pass the phone around for everyone to say “HI” and update me on the Province meeting plans. That continued until after the Province meeting, and I located Alpha Phi Chapter in Chicago, IL.
A couple years ago, to keep my mom, Ruth Stath, more active, I transferred to Alpha Delta Chapter in Lafayette, IN. It is a 2-hour drive for me to Lafayette and a one-hour time difference, so attending monthly business meetings and socials are challenging! However, with today’s technology and the “magic” features of smart phones, I attend meetings via FaceTime. I can usually see everyone, they can see me, and I can hear the entire business meeting. Mother Nature at times has kept my mom and I from attending some of the special parties, but we recently had a wonderful time at the annual Christmas Tea.
Because of my experiences, I am thrilled to be a member of the Virtual Chapter Committee. We are continuing the work of last year’s Study Group and are exploring new and different ways to use the technology available to us today to expand Sigma Phi Gamma. I predict that in the very near future, miles may no longer be a deterrent for a new member. Our hope is that participation in a virtual Chapter may serve as an incubator, giving interested women a chance to learn more about us and inspire them to find enough friends to start a traditional Chapter. It may also provide a way for members who are not physically able to attend meetings to stay connected.
I bet there are other members using technology in new and different ways to participate in SPG. The Virtual Chapter Committee would like to hear from you! Please share with us how your Chapter is embracing technology to keep members engaged.
Love to all,