All posts by International Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check Out The Pictures, by International Historian Debbie Henize

Hello sisters,

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

Debbie Henize
International Historian
Debbiehenize.spg@gmail.com

Omicron Province Weekend by Pat Herweg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Conny Poole

Tau Province President

Learning From Little Ones by Robin Pelton, International President

One thing I have learned in all of my years as a teacher is that, though I teach my students A LOT of things, they also teach me. 

The other day one of my students was “Super Hero” for the day. That meant he was my helper and had to do some tasks.  All of my students love to be the teacher’s helper, and he is no exception.  The thing is, this is my SLOOOOOOOWWWWEST student.  Really!!  So when he is my helper, I know that I have to BREATHE, bite my tongue, and keep reminding myself to be patient.  (WHAT?!?!  WE HAVE TIMELINES!!!  HOW IS EVERYTHING GOING TO GET DONE???? –This is what goes on in my mind…)

So when I announced his name, with a huge smile on his face, he VEEEERRRY SLOOOOOWWWLY got up from the carpet and ambled towards me for the ceremony of putting on the “Super Hero” cape.  He then proceeded to VEEEEEEERY SLOOOOOOWWWLY  and methodically, with many hesitations, lead our morning opening routine with all of the students.

As I took a deep breathe (or three), I thought about this precious little boy.  He is always cheerful, always kind, he loves to learn, and he is just absolutely adorable.  He takes life slowly and enjoys each minute while it lasts.  I need to do that more.  Slow down, enjoy the little things and live in the moment.

SPG Mantra – positive, welcoming, friendly & helpful! By Linda Bullington, International Organizer

Growing up in a military family means moving regularly.  You get to a new location rarely knowing anyone, so you start from scratch finding friends.  Most military families have multiple kids so that’s a plus in helping to attract others.  A family having fun is like a magnet- others notice & want to join in.  Do you think this works for sorority too?  You bet it does!

When you’re in a public place do you remember that others can see and hear you?  Do you seem positive, welcoming, friendly & helpful?  Or, do you complain, vent frustration and seem closed off?

In order for SPG to continue far into our second hundred years, we as members must find ways to increase our membership.

Attrition is beginning to hit our sorority hard.  Sisters are aging & feeling the effects of aging.  Inactive, Alumna & Zeta memberships are rising.  The results of attrition mean we have fewer viable members.  It’s harder to be successful with fewer members to spread the word of SPG.

Our communities need the care & help we provide.  We need the friendship and sisterhood we are accustomed to enjoying.

Look for ways to grow your Chapter, so you can continue enjoying SPG & so SPG continues for our communities & us! 

Finding new members will allow your Chapter to thrive.  New members will bring new ideas to try.  Be open-minded about new ideas and give them a try.  Just because they’ve been tried & didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean they won’t succeed this time, “For the times they are a changin’!” & you must change to keep up with them!

Remember- positive, welcoming, friendly & helpful, make it your new mantra!

The Loving Response Of Children by International President, Robin Pelton

I have been dealing with a terribly hard situation in my classroom. Over the Christmas holiday, two of my little students were in a car crash, and one died.  They were twin brothers and had just turned seven years old.  Thankfully the surviving brother had little physical injury. 

I am sharing this to let you know about the amazing reaction the rest of my students have had to this situation. 

I work in a small community and so, by the time school was back in session, some of my students had already heard of the tragedy.  But I had to tell the rest of my class.  We had a counselor on hand, just in case.  The reactions of my “littles” were varied, but if any one of them cried, others came immediately to hug them and pat their back.  My students were comforting me, my aide, and each other.  They were also concerned about their classmate who survived.  Without any prompting, the children agreed that they had to “be nice” to him, hug him, help him calm down if he became angry, help him with his classwork, etc. 

The next day, my students designated a basket in the classroom for gifts and homemade cards for their classmate AND the brother that died.  This was all on their own.  Amazing. 

The surviving twin finally came back to school this week.  My students enveloped him with love.  They proudly presented him with the things they had brought and made for him and his brother.  And, they demonstrated a touching amount of love and kindness.  I am getting emotional just remembering this. 

I just wanted to share with you all the immense love, kindness, caring, and support provided by a group of little children for someone they know who is hurting.  Again, AMAZING!!

I love being a Sister in Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority, by Pat Herweg

My biological Sister is in heaven…she has been there for over 18 years BUT I have many Sisters that I can rely on.  Being part of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority has been rewarding as it has been both emotional and sustaining for me.

I joined SPG 10 years ago.  I have not met a group of women who have been more loving, compassionate, and understanding.  They have supported me and encouraged me as a Sister.  We laugh, cry, complain, and argue together…but always with respect for one another.  

Our Chapter meets twice a month.   I so look forward to the time we spend together.  We work for the good of the community, which makes us better people…it is an amazing feeling.  

Last year we tried a new event, a Tea Party.  All my Chapter Sisters were so supportive.  Each took up a job and kept at it.  There was not a dishwasher at our location, and we used glass dishes for all 70 guests.  When one Sister’s back or legs gave out, a cry went up “CHANGE,” and another Sister stepped in to keep the clean dishes coming.  Everyone worked together to make our first Tea Party a huge success.  It was wonderful and heartwarming!  Now it will be an annual event.  That is why I love being a Sister in Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority.

Pat Herweg

Eta Sigma Chapter (Buffalo, NY), Omicron Province President

R’s of Membership Webinar was a First for Sigma Phi Gamma! by Donna Collins

While the weather outside my window this afternoon was cold and snowy – my heart was full of pride as we participated in the organization’s very first training webinar! Shari Pash, our Membership Strategist and consultant, provided a great training session for us all.

Shari shared with us that she is working with local, state, national, and international organizations on the topic of membership. She started the webinar by saying that she’s so impressed by Sigma Phi Gamma that she is going to start her own local Chapter! WOWSER!

My notes from the webinar follow. I hope you’ll take a moment to review and think about your role in membership growth for SPG!

Recruitment and Retention: A great resource is author and public speaker Simon Sinek and his work with WHY. What is ‘the why’ that women seek by being a member of SPG. 

The ABCs of Members: A members might be a daughter of a current member – which is often a sustainable member, someone who joins and stays! The B member is a person who stays with SPG because of relationships or active service. The C member comes for a short time and then leaves. Knowing your members is important. We need to think about membership in a more intentional way – a way to recruit with purpose.

Relational, Friendly, and Strategic: Think about the things you need to know about your Sisters and potential Sisters – What are their current cause involvement; how do they spend their extra-curricular time; how do they socialize – is it in groups, one-on-one, or via technology; what does family mean to these women. The idea is to learn more about women we approach so that we know how to talk with them from their center of interest aligning it to specific aspects of SPG.

What are the benefits of SPG:

  • Lifelong friendships – We are united through friendships and dedication to community service. We are just as busy as the busiest person you know, but we each believe that we can make a positive difference and united … we do!
  • Sisterhood – We are women of all ages and circumstances – single, married, widowed, and divorced. Some have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, aging parents, and fur babies!

Reaching Goals: Setting and reaching goals – short and long term (for example, an increased number of members and Chapters). What are the activities and outcomes – what are the intentional activities that we’re planning and doing to reach those short and long-term goals. Make sure there are strategic activities to help us reach our outcomes/goals.

Relationships: Is what we’re doing transactional or relational? It’s about the personal relational things we do in our communications and interactions that will make the biggest positive difference. Providing the high-touch with care in our relationships around membership will yield the biggest and best results.

Relevance: What is the value proposition in being an SPG member? Members aren’t buying a membership, they are really seeking connections/friendships and opportunities to serve. What’s an example of a value proposition: Our meetings are in the evening? Do all members have availability to attend meetings in the evening? Are we meeting our members’ needs?

SWOT – Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats exercise to help you learn more about what’s happening, what can be improved, and how to go about making improvements comes from doing this exercise. Use the tool in Shari’s PPT (PowerPoint presentation) to walk through membership goals and activities, or anything your Chapter does. If you want to know more about this exercise let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the PPT where you can learn more about SWOT.

Research: We need to target the best membership prospects, this is a strategy for membership growth. When we use Membee, SPG’s new database, we can collect information on members AND potential members (leads from the SPG website, for example). Knowing more about members and potential members can help Organizers know more about the connections that can be made. For example, Sue is a nurse at the local Children’s Hospital and has an interest in a skating club for exercise and fun – how can we help Sue know how to talk about SPG to her skating friends to consider membership in SPG.

Results: Measurement and accountability. What do we need to be doing? What are our recruitment activities and our goal for membership growth? Intentional membership growth takes planning and execution of strategic activities.

Written goals often result in a higher success rate (40%). Written goals and weekly accountability to those goals results in a higher success rate (80%).

Resources: Think about the use of interns, even at the Chapter level, to help with meeting planning at the Chapter or Province levels; technology assistance; marketing and social media; etc. and remember this is an opportunity to allow a young professional to get some experience in planning and working with our service sorority. Imagine inviting a young woman into the fold as an intern – she is likely to become a member because she is so impressed with our friendship and service to community.

Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – there are resources already available with SPG (website; database/Membee; handbooks and guidebooks, seasoned leaders, etc.). Using existing SPG tools and new strategies and tools we have with Shari is a win-win.

Recognition: By recognizing what motivates our members is the path to knowing what will be the most meaningful ways to recognize their service and commitment to SPG. Much like our new awards represent. Recognition, however, should be consistent and intentional. Who in your Chapter is your Recognition Cheerleader? Make it a priority. Consider a written plan for recognition or at least a few guiding ‘rules.’  We have the new Hidden Champion and New-Found Treasure Awards. I hope you will honor Sisters in your Chapter. My Chapter, Xi Xi, has already submitted our honorees to Sandy Morris, International Vice President. You can’t believe how honored our Sisters were to be recognized.

New membership tools are being developed by Shari and the Advisory Committee and will be introduced in the coming months for use by all members at the Chapter, Province, and International levels.

Shari is open to hearing from SPG members with questions and ideas: 517-285-7127 shari@sharipash.com

So, our first webinar was pretty great. This was another milestone in our history! There were 50 members who registered for the webinar, and 39 participated. Not bad for our first webinar. Watch your email for information about two more webinars in the coming weeks – you won’t want to miss a thing!

I’m just loving that we are working on the strategies outlined in our Strategic Plan, we are making progress and moving ahead! Hooray for all of us!

Hugs to all,

Donna

Donna Collins

Past International President