The Week That Tried My Soul by Pat Herweg

“These are the times that tries men’s souls” said Thomas Paine, December 1776.  Well, our country, our world is back into a situation that tries men’s souls again.

We are strong, we are resilient, we just need a little encouragement and support from each other.  That is why we are a sisterhood.   We are there for each other.  If it is a phone call, a silly picture posted on Facebook, or maybe a card in the mail; we are there for each other.

I have been in Sigma Phi Gamma for 10 years now, it has been the best organization I have ever been associated with as an adult.  It is special to me and I rely on my sisters for support.

Last week was the week that tried my soul.  My husband had a medical emergency.  My sisters got me through the worst, phone calls, prayers and words of encouragement.  Let us be that for each other.  God bless my sisters.

Pat Herweg, Eta Sigma Chapter, Omicron Province, Buffalo New York.

Exercise Your Right To Vote By Linda Bullington, International Vice President

Have you voted yet?  Women fought for you to have the right to vote!  Exercise your right!  If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say in how our country is run and you can’t complain about the people in office.

On voting day in my state of Washington,  I thought about women in politics and the advances we have made through the years.  With SPG’s 100th anniversary approaching, I wonder if there were some significant events from the 1920’s related to women.  1920 was a time of change for our country.  Women were beginning to leave the home and make their mark in the world, but equality between the sexes was a major struggle.

Did you know that in 1920 there were many words to reference a woman?  Broad, tomato, doll, dame, moll, hotsy-totsy and Sheba were used for women seen as objects of pleasure.  A woman of low intelligence was a “Dumb Dora.”  An uptight straitlaced woman was a “Mrs. Grundy.”  When a woman was referred to as “the bees knees,” she was extraordinary.  Which label would fit you?

In 1920 our country had a defacto woman President, Edith Wilson.  Edith served as a buffer between her husband President Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet, following his decline in health from a blood clot which caused paralysis, partial blindness and brain damage.  Edith would guide Woodrow’s hand in signing documents and relay his decisions on topics needing his input for the last year and a half of his term.  Yet still 100 years later there has been no woman President!

On Aug. 18, 1920 women won the right to vote!  We owe our gratitude to the suffragists who championed that right!  Women are starting to run for President but it’s somewhere in the future, because politics is still viewed as a man’s arena.  But women now have a say in how their country is governed.

August 1920 was also the time that our Founders formed Sigma Phi Gamma which is dedicated to friendship, sisterhood and community service.  It’s been 100 years and SPG still provides friendship, sisterhood and community service!  Share our sorority with your family, friends and acquaintances.  Let’s keep our sorority strong by increasing our membership numbers.  Let’s make our next 100 years even better!  Share your “why, when, and who”  and what we do to “Help Keep SPG Glowing by Growing!”

Recognizing One SPG Artist by Linda Bullington

Sigma Phi Gamma is privileged to have an artist in our midst, Carole Causey-Hazelgrove.  Carole is the calligrapher of our official Zeta Scroll, but calligraphy is only one of Carole’s many artistic talents. Carole paints in watercolors, oils and acrylics.  She draws and sketches.  She makes rust paper pieces, paper tole pictures and pen and ink drawings.  She also designs custom jewelry pieces.

How did she get into art?  She took art in High School, then was accepted to the Chicago Art Institute.  Over the summer between her Senior year and fall of college she applied for a job and was hired to work for the The Lima News-an Ohio newspaper.  She worked her way up through various positions, never attending art school.  She studied under various artist along the way through life, acquiring her many artistic talents.  At one time she owned an art gallery and custom framing store, The Art Works Etc., which was a consignment studio for other artists, her own works, personalization pieces for the public and offered art classes for all ages.

Carole has been adding names to our Zeta Scroll for 43 years, having been asked to start the task by International Secretary/Treasurer Doris Griffin!  (Carole says she was 10 when she started keeping the Zeta scroll LOL)

Sadly, Carole added all 5 Life Founders to our Zeta Scroll.  To pay homage to our Founders they are highlighted with a gold star preceding their names.  International Presidents on the list, are highlighted with a black star preceding their names.  Keeping the names of sisters who have passed on the official Zeta Scroll began in 1923.

Carole knows how to pen 5 different styles of calligraphy.  The Zeta Scroll is penned in Olde English.

Your SPG Sisters thank you Carole for your many years of dedicated service volunteering to cover this sad task.

Video Conference Etiquette for Presenters and Participants By Linda Conard

Whether it’s a small video meeting of three staff members or an expansive national event, good video conferencing etiquette makes everything run more smoothly.  Just like the best in-person meetings, positive video conference experiences start with good preparation and a shared understanding of how the meeting will proceed.  With those two elements in place, you can shift your attention away from technology issues and back to the true goal of any meeting: effective communication.

Tony Erwin, principal consultant for NASFAA’s Blue Icon Advisors, uses video conferencing extensively in working with colleges, universities, and career schools on their unique financial aid challenges.  He feels the key to a good video conference experience is concentrating on the meeting rather than the medium.

“If you stop treating video as special and just focus on being a good organizer, facilitator, lead, or presenter – or whatever the role is – then you will be effective,” Erwin said.

At the same time, he does advise managing the video conferencing technology well to keep attention on the meeting content.

“If you’re fiddling with the technology and trying to share screens and it doesn’t work, you’ve just introduced a distraction to the goal of the meeting. … [But] with preparation the technology disappears as a distraction and you can focus on being an effective facilitator or presenter,” Erwin says.

A large part of managing the technology is simply preparing well while considering the needs of everyone involved. The following etiquette tips for presenters, organizers, and participants will help you prepare, so when the meeting time arrives, you can focus squarely on achieving your goals.

Presenters/Meeting Organizers

  • Test all aspects of the platform at least a few days in advance – don’t make your participants wait while you “figure something out” during the event.  Check the video feed, audio, screen-sharing, presentation, recording, and chat features.  Don’t neglect to test your sound system, too.  Remember, the real star of your event is what you say, not how you appear.
  • Be sure all presenters and guests know the basics of using the video conferencing platform, such as how to mute/unmute and switch from one presenter to the next, as well as how you’ll handle questions.  Test everything one more time about 30 minutes before the meeting starts.
  • Notify participants in advance of important details for login and participation and, if possible, send them a reminder the day before or morning of the event.
  • If you plan to record a session, make sure all participants give consent – either in writing, on the recording, or both – before you begin to record a meeting or presentation.
  • Keep it professional.  Wear office attire and direct the camera on you and away from glare, background distractions, and noise.  Ensure the area behind you is neat and tidy (or put up a screen to hide any mess.)  Avoid hot-mic moments by never assuming your microphone is fully turned off.
  • Assign someone to take notes, track questions, and handle anything unexpected so you can focus on your presentation.
  • Close background applications on your device, turn off notifications, and silence your phone.
  • Speak clearly and look into the camera rather than watching your own image on the screen.
  • Greet participants at the scheduled time, announce the meeting will start in two minutes, then actually start it in two minutes.  This allows extra time for those who may be delayed by login or software issues, but still keeps on-time participants from waiting too long.
  • When the meeting begins, briefly remind everyone how the meeting will run — especially how and when participants may ask questions and how to mute/unmute their microphones.
  • If you switch applications, such as from video to screen-sharing, check with your audience to ensure they are seeing what they should on the screen.
  • Respect your participants’ schedules by sticking to the announced meeting start and end times.

Participant Etiquette

  • Approach video conferencing like an in-person meeting.  Show respect and remain engaged – avoid texting, multitasking, sideline chatter, or interrupting or speaking over others.  While on video, raise your hand to avoid interrupting or speaking over others.
  • Silence your phone and all computer notifications.
  • Wear office attire and keep background visual and sound distractions to a minimum.
  • Download and test the functionality of any needed software or browser system in advance – don’t wait until the moment the meeting is to start.  You may need to involve your schools IT department if you need to download software, so plan for this well in advance.
  • If you are in a room with multiple people, position your camera, microphone, and speaker so everyone participating on your end can be seen and heard.
  • If your group does not have a formal video conferencing setup, consider participating by using individual computers in individual spaces. This avoids everyone huddled in front of one computer or awkwardly passing a laptop or microphone among participants. Make sure everyone has a working camera, speakers, microphone, and any needed software.
  • Make note of how to mute/unmute.  Only unmute while speaking, and quickly mute again immediately afterwards.
  • Enter the meeting a few minutes early in case you confront unexpected login steps or software updates.
  • On systems that don’t identify each speaker, start all comments with your name and, if relevant to the discussion, your school name.
  • If you must arrive late or leave early, handle it discreetly, just as you would in a live meeting.
  • If you must leave your video viewing window, turn off your camera before doing so as an indication you may not be available.

Submitted by Tanya Patterson-Stanley, Xi Omega Chapter and Chair of Toolkits

Recharging Your SPG Battery by Linda Bullington, International Vice President

Have you ever had a day that seemed to drag on forever?  I bet it wasn’t a day spent with sorority Sisters!  Days spent with sorority Sisters pass too quickly!  You look forward to having fun with your Sisters.  You talk, laugh, go somewhere fun, do something fun, sometimes sit quietly together just sharing the togetherness and sometimes share a sad moment.  Sharing is caring.  This time spent together, recharges my sorority battery and makes me grateful that I joined SPG!
I recharged my sorority battery just this weekend, by attending Omega Province.  The friendship and Sisterhood I enjoyed this weekend, will carry me till I share a weekend at Chi Province in February.  I’m looking forward to being with my Chi Province sorority Sisters soon!  After that, I’ll look to March where I’ll spend the weekend with my Iota Sisters!  That Province will be extra special because my Mom will be initiated; my Mom will become a sorority Sister!  Following quickly after that, in June, will be SPG International Convention; our 100th anniversary will be celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri.  What a milestone!
Province weekends, service projects, social gatherings, Ways & Means events and Business Meetings are small recharges of my sorority battery.  International is a major recharge!  These recharges, keep me going!  Keep me looking ahead to see what’s coming next!
If you’re a sorority Sister, join in, every chance you get!  If your not, consider joining today.  The sooner your join, the sooner you can enjoy the battery recharges!

100-Year Anniversary Celebrations by Noni Gauder

Our Sigma Phi Gamma 100-year anniversary is such a great accomplishment.  Isn’t it wonderful that we can celebrate it together!

Have you ever thought you would like to have talked with our Founders during the time they were forming SPG?  I wonder what gave those dedicated ladies the perseverance and fortitude for their planning.  Could it have been another special event that was finally happening in 1920?  After many decades of woman suffrage supporters lecturing, marching, lobbying and some being cruelly jailed, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on August 26, 1920.  The 19th Amendment guarantees American women the right to vote.  Women voted for a president three months later.  Yea!!!  This may not have happened if it hadn’t been for strong women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul and Harriet Tubman, to name just a few.

Three-fourths of the states’ approval was needed for ratification.  Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify but that was a little iffy at the time.  Harry T. Burn represented his county in the Tennessee House of Representatives and he had thought he might vote against the passing.  But encouraged by a letter from his mother, his yes vote broke a tie vote and the amendment was ratified.  Hurray for Harry!!  So glad he was listening to his mother.

It’s been only 100 years of women voting.  Wow!  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the polls, I rarely think about all the hardships that suffragists had endured so that I may have my voting privileges.

In celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment and celebration of those courageous suffragists, we should vote and vote every election.  It is our duty as Americans.

SPG Sisters @ Sea by Vice President Linda Bullington

Recipe For Fun
Start with 10 SPG Sisters
Add 6 friends and/or family
Choose location: Miami/Cozumel/Key West
Pick date: Jan 4-9
Pick method of transport: car/shuttle/ship
Matching travel shirts and e-BUDDIE?  Check!!
Depart: 7:30am
First stop: Panera for breakfast
Second stop: Parking garage in Miami
Next: Shuttle to the ship!
Clear customs
Board ship!
Daily theme?  Check (lucky 7, hats, ties, glow sticks, flashing glasses)
Door decorations?  Check
Unlimited premium beverage package?  Check
Delicious food?  Check!
Special food requests catered to?  Check (No garlic for Lou Young, no mango or avocado for Crystal Smith)
Desserts-Check (more than a person should eat!)
Funny cruise games?  Check (Beth Beckham won @ not saying yes or no during a very active conversation w/the cruise activity director)
Bingo winner?  Yes ( Me!)
Casino winner(s)?  Yes!  (Della Kochert won more than the cost of her cruise, Carole Causey-Hazelgrove was a winner too!)
Nightly live theater productions?  Check
Silent disco?  Check!  So much fun!!
ABBA party?  Check!
Wine tasting/food pairing class?  Check (Chris Wilkins, Barb Dempsey & others)
An anniversary?  Check!  (Becky & Don Frye)
First time cruiser?  Check!  (Theresa Caterson)
Mayan ruin tour?  Check!
Tequila Factory tour?  Check!
5th Ave shopping tour?  Check (Mexican style)
Hop On/Hop Off Key West Tour?  Check!
Prospective Pledges?  Possibly 2 of the ladies that were friends/family joining in on the fun!
Would I go again?  Yes!
SPG Sisters @ Sea!

As a Reminder – What is a 501(c)(7)? By Mary Ann Tuer, International Secretary/Treasurer

Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Inc. is considered a “social/friendship club” and was organized for pleasure, recreation and other non-profitable purposes by our Founders in 1920.  Generally, social clubs are membership organizations primarily supported by dues, fees, charges or other funds paid by their members.

The main difference between a 501(c)(7) and 501(c)(3) is that any money or goods received from our members or outside sources are NOT tax deductible.  When looking for donations from businesses or other sources, make sure you tell them that we are a (c)7 and NOT (c)3.

Also, I believe there is a misconception about being “exempt”. “Exempt” does not mean that a Chapter or Province does not pay sales taxes.  Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Inc. as a whole is exempt from paying taxes (Federal), but even I pay taxes for everything purchased for the business office.

Did you know that our Bylaws (governing instrument) may not contain a provision that provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color or religion?  I was not aware of this – but fortunately this is not something Sigma Phi Gamma has to worry about since we do not have any of these provisions and we are a “friendship” organization that welcomes those who want to join.

Lastly, any net earnings of this organization may not inure to the benefit of any person (member or their family members) having a personal or private interest in its activities.  This is why none of the monies earned can go directly to a Sister in need.

Remember, before you commit to a function or a meeting place where they are requesting your non-profit status, make sure you tell them we are a 501(c)(7) so there is no confusion at the end of the day.  I have a copy of the IRS letter stating our exempt status in the business office if you ever have to produce it.

Just know I am a phone call away if you ever have any questions.  Mary Ann

New Year’s Thoughts by Sandy Morris, International President

Can you believe it’s that time of year again already?!

If your tendency is to lean towards procrastination, the New Year can either be your best friend or worst enemy.  Like any good friend, the New Year fills us with hope and encouragement.  It reminds us that time is on our side and that we’ve got 365 blank pages ahead of us.  But as time goes on, the New Year can begin to shift from being one of our closest friends to one of our biggest enemies, putting off joining the gym, cooking more at home, getting fit, or being better at meeting commitments and deadlines.

According to a survey of 2000 people, the majority of us are expecting New Year’s to be some sort of magical day where something will finally “click” and we’ll do what we’ve been wanting to do for months.  As awesome as that would be, the reality is, New Year’s or not, we’re going to have to put in the effort to prioritize our goals and then take action.

How about we mix up our own magical formula for curing our procrastination?  That would be nice.  I am a queen of procrastination at times.  I think I inherited it, that must be the cause.

Step 1: Bundle Your Temptations

The first step is to mix up what you love with the what you procrastinate about!  For instance, only watch your favorite tv show while walking on the treadmill, or you could try to only have dessert with sorority events, or only get a pedicure with a friend who might be a prospective member.

Step 2: Use Rewards

The second step is to add in some immediate positive reinforcement for doing the thing you’ve been procrastinating.  For example, if you prepare your lunches and snacks for the work week ahead, allow yourself to watch your favorite Netflix show.  Rewards reinforce behaviors and are ultimately helpful in building habits long-term — figure out a reward for your members who bring in a new pledge to the Chapter.

Step 3: Set Smarter Goals

The third step is to make sure your goals are achievable.  What can often be the trigger for procrastination is feeling overwhelmed from the start of your goal!  And as most of us know, getting started with any goal is usually the toughest part.  A great way to make goals feel less overwhelming is to make them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Time-Bound).  Let’s set small goals and try to accomplish them one at a time.  Make a goal for March, maybe set a plan for a rush party.  Then in October plan a pledge party.  Make it part of your calendar, plan ahead, set a measurable goal and make it realistic for your Chapter.  Embrace it!  Let’s make 2020 the best year yet!

Consider looking at all that Sigma Phi Gamma has survived over the last 100 years.  We can do this!

The Reason for the Season… by Pat Herweg

Now I know why the elves have a whole year to prepare for Santa’s BIG night.  It is exhausting being an elf!

My sorority sisters took on a large undertaking this year.  We provided a little bit of Christmas Cheer for homeless women and their children.  We prepared 62 gift bags for the women and 34 gift bags for the children ages 5 months to 16 years old.  A secret Santa (hopefully a sister soon) made Blankets for all the children adding a wonderful edition to our gift bags.

Last night we delivered the bags, to be given out Christmas morning, and 12 of our sisters added our singing voices to a cafeteria audience of women and children.  All kinds of Christmas songs, goodies and crafts were on the agenda for the night.

The feeling we all experienced was amazing!!!  The Reason for the Season was shining bright on a snowy, dark night in Downtown, Buffalo, New York.

Respectfully submitted,

Pat Herweg (Treasurer), Eta Sigma Chapter, Omicron Province

Mu Eta Chapter’s Christmas Party by Cindy Worley

Mu Eta Chapter (Hays, Kansas)  had their Christmas Exchange Party at the Smoky Hill Country Club on December 3, 2019.  Chapter Sisters (and one guest) were decked out in their fine Christmas attire and the decorations were colorful and festive.  After a short meeting, conversation flowed freely and laughter and smiles were abundant.  Our meals were scrumptiously delicious and we had beautifully decorated cupcakes for dessert.  Everyone was so clever with their exchange gifts, and we all left with a smile on our face, a song in our heart and just a little bounce in our step.  We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Sister to Sister…..