All posts by International Editor

Portland Has a Lot to Offer!

Portland has the largest wilderness park within the city limits. Forest Park with over 5,000 Square acres. We also have the smallest park 2.5 feet in diameter within the city limits called Mill End Park.

We have the world’s largest independently owned bookstore, Powell’s Book in downtown Portland.

We have over 700 food courts through out the city and have been named the best city in the world for street food. I hope you get a change to try some.

We have great Saturday Market, and close to the Hotel on the Washington side, Easter Shore Park, they have a Saturday Market as well.

The Portland zoo.

Omsi Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Art Museums.

Rose Gardens, Japanese Gardens.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. Were you can see the Spruce Goose, Built entirely of wood due to wartime restrictions on metals.

We will have pamphlets at the Hotel with more things to see and do, and if your taking any of the TOURS you’ll get to see lots of what Portland has to offer!

Food:

Stanford’s Restaurant & Bar:  $$ · American, Contemporary American chain serving steak, sushi, pizza & pub grub, plus cocktails & local beers.

12200 N Parker Ave

Happy hour food – Late-night food – Comfort food

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse:   $$ · Restaurant, Family-friendly chain outpost pairs familiar pub fare with an extensive list of house brews.

12105 N Center Ave

Happy hour food – Late-night food – Happy hour drinks

Boomers:   $ · Barbecue, Unassuming restaurant offering long-smoked BBQ, plus burgers, booze & breakfast in a casual space.

1335 N Hayden Island Dr

Happy hour food Late-night food Happy hour drinks

Panera Bread:   $$ · Sandwich,Counter-serve bakery/cafe chain serving sandwiches, salads & more, known for its bread & free WiFi.

1400 N Tomahawk Island Dr

Reservations required- Breakfast – Outdoor Seating

Original Joe’s:  Unfussy outpost for simple American eats like sandwiches & handful of Asian-influenced bento boxes.

1321 N Hayden Island Dr

Late-night food – Comfort food – Breakfast

La Quebrada Taqueria:   Mexican

11980 N Jantzen Dr

Comfort food – Small plates – Quick bite

My Granddaughter is Turning Sixteen – Linda Bullington, International Service Secretary

My granddaughter is turning sixteen!
This birthday is a milestone, she’s excited to be getting her drivers license! The car her mom bought for her has been parked out front for months, now she’ll be able to drive herself places & have freedom from relying on others to get her places.
As one of her chauffeurs I’m dreading this newly earned freedom. I enjoyed shuttling her to school in the morning, & back & forth to softball practice, it was a way for just her & I to have a few minutes of together time. I liked catching up with what was going on in her life during our drives. You know teenagers, they stay in their rooms with the door shut must of the time when they’re at home & it’s sometimes hard to keep involved in their activities.
I can’t help but reminisce on times of joy I’ve gotten to share in on as a part of her life in years past.
I didn’t want to be called grandma, I thought I rather liked Grammie so that’s the name I was hoping my grand kids would call me.
As Bailey began to talk she heard her mom call my parents grandma & grandpa so that’s what they became to her as well. We knew she could say g sounds but for some reason Grammie didn’t happen… Bailey started calling me Mammie…needless to say I took some ribbing from friends on that & raised more than a few eyebrows of strangers when they heard it…When someone questions it I just say-as long as my grand kids say it with love, they can call me any name they want.
There was the time I came into my daughters home & Bailey was upstairs, I stood at the bottom of the stairs & yelled up-where’s my granddaughter?- she came running down stairs yelling- here I is Mammie – & at about 4 stairs from the bottom she launched herself into my arms! Its a good thing she was just 3 and was an easy catch!
Once I had cut my long straight hair short & it was curled, Bailey pointed to my head & asked- what’s that?- I asked -what’s what? She said- that- again pointing to my head so I leaned down & asked her to show what she was asking about, she touched my hair & asked- are you a lady Mammie?
In order to give her parents a date night, for a long while I had Bailey spend every Friday night with me. We would walk to school & sing a Friday song we’d heard on the radio- Monday is a bummer, Tuesday’s only fair, Wednesday’s gettin’ better, Thursdays almost there, but Friday, Friday, Friday is our favorite day! & she would add-cuz I get to stay at my Mammie’s house! I really missed it when Fridays at my house changed to spending the night with friends instead.
As Bailey continued to age she came into new areas of interest. She plays softball and is very talented in drawing, she likes K pop music-Korean pop bands- so decided to try & learn Korean on her own. She’s smart & beautiful & yes, I AM biased. I love my granddaughter more than any other grandma/Mammie ever!
As I sit here writing this blog, tears of love are streaming down my face. I’m looking forward to sharing in many years of birthdays for Bailey & sharing in all life brings her way! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAILEY! I love you!
at a recent Pink concert.at the play Pinkalicious
My beautiful granddaughter!

When You Do It – Deb Juracich, International President

When You Do It
Ralph Marston
The work will be done when you do it. The problem will be solved when you solve it.
The money will be yours when you earn it. The skill will be yours when you learn it.
It’s not magic that creates the good and desirable things in life. It is focused, committed, persistent effort.
If you want life to improve in some particular way, then do the improving, be the improver. Jump to your feet and make it happen.
Skip straight past the wishing, begging, agonizing, theorizing, and wondering when the situation will get better. Step up, take action, and keep at it until you get the results you’re after.
You know what makes a difference, what brings value to life, and you know you can do it. So go ahead, without further hesitation, and get it done. — Ralph Marston (www.greatday.com)

As I read the poem above as presented by The Daily Motivator, it got me thinking. Let’s view this poem from a Sigma Phi Gamma perspective:
Finding new members will be done when you do it!
It is not magic that creates new friends and memories in SPG. It is focused, committed, persistent effort.
If you want to improve SPG in some particular way, then do the improving, be the improver. Jump to your feet and make it happen.
Let’s skip straight past the wishing, begging, agonizing, theorizing, and wondering if SPG will be around in a few years. Step up, take action, and keep at it until you get the results you’re after.
Each lovely SPG Sister makes a difference, knows what value SPG bring to life. Just do it! Go ahead, without further hesitation and get it done!
Let’s do it!

Little Sisters Thinking About Sigma Phi Gamma – Donna Collins International Counselor

This month I was invited to dinner with the Sisters of Nu Tau Chapter in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was their annual Mother/Daughter Dinner. In attendance were Chapter members (mothers/daughters/mothers-in-laws), guests (former members and potential members), and the Gamma Province Officers.
It was a great little restaurant with a fabulous menu. We were at a long table and there was lots of conversation, storytelling, and joy. Two of the daughters at the table were Makayla and Allison both elementary aged and eager to be part of the fun. There were moments to ask the girls about school, their pets, favorite colors, and so on. And, Makayla was happy to positively respond to my request that she read a page out of her book: Leif the Luck. She did a great job!
My final question to Allison and Makayla was, “When you grow up are you going to be a Sigma Phi Gamma girl?”

Allison, Donna, Makayla

Makayla said, “No.” I was surprised since her Mother is a 25-year member, leader at the Chapter and International levels. I responded with, “Why not?” and Makayla said, “Sorority is a lot of work.” to which her Mom joined the conversation and agreed it was a lot of work but it was work worth doing. After sharing our stories about why we love sorority Makayla softened a bit, and by the end of the evening said she would ‘consider sorority’ but would make no promises.
Driving home that night (2 and ½ hours) provided me time to think about Makayla and Allison. I wondered:
1. Will we win these girls over by the time their 18 years old, and in a decade, they will want to be SPG members?
2. Will Makayla follow in her Mother’s SPG footsteps?
3. Will Sigma Phi Gamma still be around in ten or twenty years for these girls?
4. What do we need to do today to strengthen our membership?
5. What do we need to do to be relevant well into the future?
6. How do we create a strong brand, tone, and messaging about who SPG is and what we do?
7. While ‘hard work’ is part of our roles (service, meetings, leadership) how do we speak eloquently and openly about the rewards of that hard work so that others see the value not the sweat equity?
I want to work hard and help SPG be all that it can be today and in the future. I want to vote for Makayla and Allison when they run for Province and International offices as they grow into leadership in Sigma Phi Gamma. I want my grandgirl Cierra (13) to be an SPG member and know girls like Allison and Makayla so that they can have strong bonds of sisterhood to last a lifetime.
Who are the little girls in your life that deserve a healthy smart chance to join SPG? Let’s commit ourselves to their future and the future of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Inc.!

Is anyone listening? Debbie Henize – International Historian

Hello!! Hello!! Hello!!
Is anyone listening? Several members of council have been writing blogs over the past several months. It is so discouraging to spend the time writing these blogs and getting no response and only a few people reading them. If you are reading this or any other blog can you reply? Or better yet can you write something? I know you are each great people. I would like to get to know you a little better or laugh at your joke. Treat it a little like Facebook. Write what is on your mind and contribute to the blog. All you need to do is write it and send it to Deb Juracich. She will review and post. It really is that easy. We need each and everyone of you. The more people participate the better this blog will become. No one person is interesting enough to keep this blog going. However, as a group we are fantastic, interesting, funny and just a wonderful group of women. Did anyone read Robin’s recent post? It is hilarious. A laugh can combat stress and just bring a smile to our faces. A recipe would be a great post. How about some information about your wonderful sisters or a great service project? I am from Ohio but would love to hear about the wonderful or horrible weather in other parts of the country. The more we talk the closer we become. You may have a better idea than the one’s I included above. Go for it. I can’t wait to hear from you. (Yes, You, not the person behind you, YOU!!)

Let me share something with you that made me laugh.
My mother-in-law’s name is Ann. My husband used my phone to call her the day before mother’s day. However, he did not have his glasses on and couldn’t see the display that well. He saw Ann and clicked call. Well, I was sitting across the room and he put the phone on speaker. Image my surprise when I heard my sorority sister and dear friend Ann Scott from Kappa Beta chapter on the other end. My husband starts talking to her while I am saying that is my friend not your mom. Well, he proceeds to say this is Mark, Debbie’s husband. She says I am sorry, you have the wrong number. Do you think he would have explained to her what had happened? No, he just says sorry and hangs up. Well she calls back and we had a laugh because you see I don’t get to talk to her very often and she wasn’t sure that it was my husband. If anyone from Kappa Beta writes a post and mentions this story, I will donate $20 to a service project of their choice.
See you all soon in Portland!!!

Funny Story from Robin Pelton-International Vice President

I recently reread a funny story that my sister sent me. Nothing Sorority related, I just thought I’d share it with you. I hope it tickles you as much as it tickled me. I actually laughed out loud because I have been through this. I expect most of us have….
This past weekend I went shopping with my daughter and sister and bought some clearance items. So today, of course I want to wear this one purple V-neck t-shirt I got for $2.50. Quite the bargain huh? Well I don’t know about you, but when you get something new, I like to try to wear it right away. It kind of makes me feel better. Especially since I am a slob, and always dribble some sort of food or drink on my shirts.

Well, after the shower today, getting dressed, I put on a bra, and then the new purple t-shirt. Oops! It’s a bit too low. So I had purchased some camisoles recently. You know the kind I’m talking about, the stretchy ones with the built in shelf bras…………did you know those act very much like sports bras? Unless your “girls” are small, perky or filled with saline, they are gonna get squished in these shirts. It’s almost worse than sports bras. At least with the sports bras you have more material in the “girl” area. You can “expand your horizons” a bit more, where, with these tight, stretchy camisoles, there is no give up front. So I thought, well maybe with the t-shirt over the camisole, you won’t notice the 4 inch roll that runs vertically about 9 inches below my collarbone, and horizontally, goes all around the front of me, including way under my armpits. You know, kind of like those blow up flotation rings that children use in water? Although, I have to say, it really didn’t go around my back, but then again, I can’t twist quite that far around anymore to get a good enough view. So the rule is, if I can’t see it, no one else should, right?

Anyway, I am getting off track here………..where was I. Oh yeah; I put the t-shirt on, and guess what? It’s VERY noticeable. It really looks like a blow up flotation ring is under my t-shirt. I can’t have that now, can I? So now I have to take the stupid camisole off. The trick is, though, not to throw my shoulders out of socket while doing it. Did you know stretchy material doesn’t breathe well? I now know that because, in taking the camisole off, it got stuck, my arms flailing in the air, the camisole is off my body, but still, somehow, connected to my shoulders, the “girls” are peeking out from this stretchy material, or perhaps I should say, oozing out, and it’s not a pretty sight (do you think they put superglue in these items of clothing or something?), and I am stuck, and now I cannot breathe. I’m being smothered by underwear. What will I tell my children? How can I explain this one to my husband so he won’t think my mother dropped me on my head as a baby…..several times? How will my obituary read?
So, trying not to huff and puff too much and use up too much energy, because we all know using up energy uses oxygen, and I can’t afford to lose too much air right now, so, carefully, I pull this stretchy torture device over my head, but it’s VERY stretchy, and no matter how hard I pull, there seems to be more fabric, and it’s still wedged…..back to huffing and puffing regardless of the consequences. I manage to get it off, almost knocking my head on the sink in the whiplash that I experienced removing it.

Needless to say, I put back on the bra, put back on the new purple v-neck t-shirt. You know what? A little cleavage never hurt anyone.
Have a great day!!

Spring? From Linda Bullington, International Service Secretary

Spring?…
Ah Spring, warm, sunny weather…maybe in some places… but not so much in Washington state. We have cold rainy Springs.The rare warm sunny day is a treat.
Spring season brings outdoor sports, my 2 grandsons play LaCrosse & my granddaughter plays softball, that’s at least 3 outdoor games a week if not more.
To be ready for this I have to bring a Coleman chair- the rigid kind cuz I’m getting older & can’t get out of those chairs that fold up into the bag any more, they sit too low… a stadium seat, a rain shelter for the reeeeally wet days, a golf umbrella for the misty days, a blanket, coat & lined gloves for the cold days, yeah, I think that’s everything I think I’m ready to watch their games. Wait, what…it’s the rare sunny day?? Awww I can’t see, it’s too sunny…I need sunglasses….ah my face feels warm, this is nice- hours later…oh no, my scalp & face are sunburned…better remember to add sunscreen & sunglasses to the trunk…
Why is my mileage per gallon decreasing so much lately?! could it be because my trunk has become a storage unit?!
Yep, that’s spring sports in Washington!

A Mother’s Heart and a Sister’s Love – Donna Collins, TJ’s Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches it is bitter sweet for me. Our oldest son TJ died on April 26, 2010. He was 31 years old. TJ was smart, articulate, an avid reader, funny, a great singer, and a story telling kid who loved his family and friends. When TJ died a part of me died. I stopped wearing a watch because time just wasn’t that important anymore. I stopped dreaming about lots of things because the pain was too deep and TJ’s death was just too much for me to handle.
In the days, weeks, years that followed TJs death I slowly realized that I couldn’t stop living because after all I’m fortunate to have two living sons, Josh (36) and Ryan (24), who are healthy and happy. I am still their Mother, I still have an obligation to keep making new memories with them. And, we also have a grandgirl (Cierra who is 13) and a grandboy (Chance who is 8) who keep life interesting and fun. Can’t forget about Josh’s wife, Deidre, who is like having my own daughter.
It’s an abnormal way of living with one portion of your heart frozen in time longing to see your dead son’s face, hear him laugh, and hug him tight just one more time. The other part of my heart is filled with love and admiration for the other boys’ smiles, stories of success, and plans for the future. My heart fills up – sometimes with tears, sometimes with joy, and always with love.
My husband and family continue to grieve and miss TJ. We also try to help each other by keeping TJ’s memory alive – telling stories and sharing photos. We have birthday cake on his birthday. Last time he was at our house he left a pair of shoes by the door. All these years later the shoes sit by the door where he left them. Those shoes bring me comfort. His leather jacket hangs on the back of the chair in our office where he left it. When I sit in that chair I can lean back and feel the collar of his jacket, it feels good. While all of this sounds like I must surely need counseling or even something bigger – I’m more fortunate than many women who have lost their children too early. I have Sigma Phi Gamma in my life. I have Sisters who will listen, talk, share, sit quietly to hold my hand, and help me live through the birthday, anniversary of death, holidays, and just plain awful days when the pain is too intense.
There are many reasons why women seek out an organization like Sigma Phi Gamma – what I know for sure is that had I not been a Sigma Phi in 2010 when TJ died I’m quite certain I could not have come out of the spiral of grief. A card would arrive out of the blue to say ‘hello, I’m thinking of you. Love, Your Sister.’ A group of Sisters would say, ‘let’s do a girls weekend, we deserve some time away.’ And we went. The phone would ring the day before TJ’s birthday and a Sister would be calling to see what I was up to and invite me for coffee.
Sigma Phi Gamma is an organization of women coming from all walks of life, with varying skills and interests, who have hearts and minds that are focused on love and friendship. Sure, we can have opposite ideas and views but at the end of the day we’ve got each other’s hearts in the palm of our hands – holding each other in love during good times and bad. So, my abnormal life has truly been shaped by my Sigma Phi Gamma Sisters across the United States and Canada – there are no boundaries to what SPG can do to make your life better.

International Conventions of the past – Deb Juracich, International President

International Conventions of the past
Deb Juracich
International convention is right around the corner. Not that anyone needs assistance getting excited for our trip to Portland, but let’s share our favorite moments from past International conventions. When I look back there are a few special moments that come to mind.
In South Bend and Grand Rapids, the membership was engaged with productive conversations about our organization and future. It was so exciting to see the passion of our Sisters from all over sharing ideas to help move SPG forward.
Hosting in Columbus has been one of my favorite International conventions. The collaboration of the members of Gamma Province was special. It was a bonding experience for the Sisters of the Province Planning Team, and working to provide a memorable and successful convention was amazing. The hotel staff was so impressed by our presence that they requested that we host every year at the Hyatt. Our members are always courtesy, kind, and generous. It was fun to share Ohio’s capitol city with our SPG Sisters.
The last memory is of the kindness of the SPG members. This was demonstrated in Nashville. We made convention that year a family affair – Kyle, our eight year old son at the time, got separated from us in the elevator, we got off and Kyle stayed on. He rode the elevator again to various floors, without either of us, and as parents we were panicked. A few minutes later, Kyle returned safe and sound with an elevator of SPG Sisters laughing with him and ensuring we were reunited.
Gives me goosebumps and puts a great smile on my face when I think of these and many more great memories of our time together at International convention.
What memories bring a smile to your face? Please share in the comments below!

Things We May Not Know When We Join Donna Collins, International Counselor

I recently read a few articles about the value of being in a sorority (most were about college sororities) hoping to be inspired and find some interesting content for my April BUDDIE Blog post. One of the articles stood out to me and was about the things a Sorority doesn’t tell a woman about being in a sorority. To follow is my translation of the big ideas in that article to Sigma Phi Gamma:

Being in sorority is a time commitment
You know there will be meetings and socials and service, but you also need time for reading the BUDDIE, BUDDIE Blog, and emails from the Chapter, Province, and International levels. There are the pop-up run outs for coffee, breakfast, pizza, or wine. Then, there are the extras: phone calls that require your undivided attention – supporting a Sister, sharing information, gossiping (which is not what we should be doing), requests for help, etc. All of this can add up to significant amounts of time in a week or month. The list of ‘extras’ here are mostly expectations – they are important to being a member and a supportive Sister.

The Chapter might have problems
Your Chapter isn’t perfect. It’s made up of women of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and interests. Every woman has ideas about how the organization operates, where you meet, when you meet, and the service work you do. We don’t have to like everything – just love the mission of why we became a member: Friendship, Service, and Community!

You won’t always be so involved
The Pledge period is the honeymoon. Everything is shiny and fun. Everyone is welcoming and very friendly. And, if done right you will make fast-friends with every member of the Chapter, but sometimes this isn’t possible due to personalities, age, work, and social interests. Over time you might find yourself drawn to specific Sisters. That’s okay if you remember other significant parts of why you became a member: service to the community and to people who need a hand-up; and participating in something bigger than yourself for the greater good of all the women in SPG across the world.

There are strict rules
We are governed by sets of rules: Chapter, Province, and International bylaws and standing rules that help us work well together. Not every rule sits-well with every member. There are membership dues and per capita; there are attendance expectations; there are rules of conduct; there are sometimes fines and penalties for not meeting obligations. As an organization with nearly 100 Chapters we need structure even when we think it’s silly or it doesn’t apply to us. I think of it as the ‘traffic light’ set of rules – we have green, yellow, and red lights to keep us safe and in our own lane.

You won’t be best friends with everyone in your chapter
When I look back at the founding on my Chapter I can say today that half of us were destined to be best friends and the others just friends, some falling away over time. I remember wanting to be like the ladies in Psi Chapter (our Big Sisters) who were very in-tune with one another and very social. This reflection remains the same today, although I now know there are small clusters of very close friends within the Chapter, and at the end of the day they remain true to one another regardless of the ‘depth’ of friendship from one woman to another. I would say, in a Chapter of 30 women, it’s likely you’ll be very close to eight to ten women. You don’t have to be best friends with every Sister, but you will want to respect, admire, and love them all.

Members come and go
Women join and drop out of sorority for all kinds of reasons: time, interest, money, job changes, or moving to a new town. A Chapter’s membership will ebb and flow overtime. It’s always a good idea to check-in with members from time-to-time when someone leaves the Chapter to make sure your operations and activities haven’t gone astray. Don’t let the amount of money women are expected to contribute (dues, per capita, charities, activities) is pushing women out or preventing women to join. Are you actually doing service work? Many women join to be ‘doers’ and that means doing more than having meetings. What is your Chapter doing to have active engagement in service?

An active member has a moral obligation to lead
We all have the ability to Chair a committee, run for office, hold an office, and serve as a leader. We all know there are women in our Chapters (some of them 25+ years) who have never served in an elected office. In the beginning there are reasons (new job, babies, caring of sick parents, etc.) but eventually you need to step-up. Yes, leadership takes a bit of time, thoughtfulness, and desire – and we each have a moral obligation to do our part. Letting, and depending on others, to lead and put in the extra effort while you sit on sidelines is not the SPG way. I promise leadership will not kill you!

And in the end…
You may not have truly understood about the obligation to volunteer, lead, participate, read those emails and newsletters, show up for an intervention to help a Sister, or even some of the secret aspects of sorority – with a definite guarantee I can say, it is all worth it. Sigma Phi Gamma and its members make a positive difference in our lives on the day we join, and overtime as we have life-moments (a wedding, a baby, a death, a new job, a dream and even a broken dream) that change us as women. Sigma Phi Gamma is a way of life for many of us and I know first-hand how much my Sisters love and support me, call me out when I’m wrong or misinformed, or show up for the coffee, wine, or just because.