Chapter DO Faced Numerous Challenges This Year, With Grace and Resilience:
Our chapter has had a roller coaster year, yet we are thriving and resilient because of the loving spirit and dedication of our sisters. We have a caring and cohesive membership. Sisters are happy to see each other, with loving hugs and smiles – whether at regular meetings, socials, or other chapter activities and small special-interest groups. Our theme has been, “Transform and Take Flight.” What an appropriate theme for our chapter this year, as we took on unforeseen challenges by taking difficult circumstances under our wings and demonstrating that “Transformation isn’t a future event. It is a present-day activity.” (Jillian Michaels). [Applicable quotations from our 2019-2020 yearbook are inserted as a part of this letter.]
Chapter commitment is very high. Our sisters are responsive and willing to help each other as the need arises. Serious situations occurred this year for several sisters, which impacted the heart of our chapter. We co-hosted the reception following a moving memorial service for our beloved Peggy Braun; dear Marilyn Barber valiantly fought recurring cancer, even providing a memorable program about Saint Valentine and sharing her collection of antique valentines with us, just a month before her passing. A third sister, Eileen Griffith, had a fall resulting in a fatal brain bleed. At age 98, she was still a participating chapter member, serving on the social committee. The husband of Mary Ann Mustari passed away in late summer. Our sister, Nancy Chamberlin suffered serious neck and rib injuries in a tragic accident, which took months of painful treatment before recovery. Three sisters had major surgeries. Through all of our tears, sense of loss and concern, Chapter DO sisters rallied to support our sisters and their families in need. Too, we rallied to support each other in our grief. Our strong bond as sisters, held together as we provided meals, reception refreshments, made phone calls, wrote personal notes, visited our sisters, and provided transportation assistance. For long-term needs, we designated a chairman to coordinate individual situations, with multiple sisters pitching in each time.
Our sense of loss continued when three sisters transferred out of our chapter. One sister relocated to south-central Colorado, and has recently transferred to a chapter in her new community. Two other sisters moved out of state; one has transferred to a new chapter and other is in the process of finding her “just right” chapter. Additionally, one of our long-time sisters has made the difficult decision to go inactive due to family needs and an overloaded work schedule. In total, our chapter membership has changed dramatically. We have realized seven losses; however, we joyfully have brought three new wonderful members into our chapter. One initiate (Chris Wells) and two transfers (Jan Leckway and Nancy Breckel).
Throughout all of these challenges, Chapter DO has realized significant accomplishments and has grown in strength and dedication. These accomplishments include:
Development of a Plan for the Present and the Future (2019 – 2022)
“If you wish to fly to new heights, begin by setting your sights on a destination you can reach and then create a flight plan, a map that will be your guide.” (Debbie Ford)
Chapter Officers and several Committee Chairs spent three months developing a relevant and useful Long-Range Plan, which was reviewed and adopted by the chapter membership in September. This Plan is now our valued roadmap. Our three major focus areas are to Advance Membership Growth, Support Projects and Chapter-Sponsored Recipients, and Sustain Chapter Culture and Member Care and Concern. Each focus area includes priorities, goals, and strategies to help keep our eyes on what we intend to accomplish. Implementation of elements of each focus area has been amazing in just this year!
- Advance Membership Growth: Our Reciprocity/Membership Co-Chairs, Nancy Chamberlin and Sylvia Postlethwait, have worked diligently to use the monthly Unaffiliates Lists to recruit women to become P.E.O. Chapter DO sisters. We are proud that we have enriched our chapter with the addition of 1 new initiate and two transfers this past year.
To boost our capacity to provide support to our new initiates and transfer members, as well as to strategically plan ways to reach out to non-attending and inactive members, we have added a third committee member to the Reciprocity/Membership team, to provide support for expanding and solidifying our action plan for sustaining a vibrant and cohesive membership.
Advance Support of Projects and Chapter-Sponsored Recipients: “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” (Dalai Lama)
The progress the Projects Committee, under the leadership of co-chairs Sarah Burk and Nancy Chamberlin, is highly commendable. As of February, 2020, Chapter DO’s Projects Committee is now working with a combined group of fourteen project recipients and new applicants! Broken down by status for each category:
Upon the request of the Projects Committee, the chapter dedicated the proceeds of a book sale in March, 2019 to fund support to our Project Recipients beyond their scholarship or loan, which has carried through the 2019 FY. With a nominal increase in dues, starting in March 2020, $5.00/member will be placed in the budget as a Project Recipient Support line item to ensure a sustainable resource for this purpose. Each recipient received cards at Christmas, for their birthday, upon graduation, with a gift card enclosed. A cache of whimsical socks, pins, and accent scarves have been added to our supply of gifts to share with each student for a special “Thinking of You” gesture.
The Projects Committee has strategically outlined the various tasks required for identifying worthy recipients, shepherding applicants through the application process, and providing follow-up support to recipients. Every member of the committee has a shared responsibility in the process for at least one applicant/recipient.
An elegant scrapbook featuring each recipient was designed and developed this past year by committee member Judy Sauerteig. It not only helps to build a memory book for our chapter, but honors each recipient in a very special way.
- Sustain Chapter Culture and Member Care and Concern: “You and I possess within ourselves at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the qualities of our lives.” (Werner Erhard) As our chapter provided a variety of supports to sisters and their families this past year, we realized the need to have a systemized process and procedures for organizing and carrying out this support. As a starting point, we included this need into our Long-Range Plan, with on-going development and implementation, based on meeting individual sister’s needs.
Lead by our Bylaws Committee, Lola Popken and Liz Martin, our chapter actively championed the Illinois Amendment, that was defeated at the International Convention. However, this did not defeat our chapter. After exploring our options, and consulting with our State Organizer, Lia Christians, we adopted our own amendment to Chapter DO’s Bylaws. This new amendment allows us to waiver the dues for any sister for whom there is a significant impediment to her continuing membership. These dues may be paid by donation or chapter funds. This action demonstrates a lifetime dedication to our sisters by helping to ensure they can continue in the P.E.O. Sisterhood, regardless of their circumstances.
Our very active Social Committee, led by Beth Jarrett, continues to expand voluntary participation by our sisters in a variety of social activities outside our regular meetings. In addition to the established groups such as the Chapter Chicks Book Club, bridge, mahjong, movie group, and lunch bunch, a canasta group has now formed. All are well attended, and provide a way to get to know each other in enjoyable and engaging ways. This past summer our BILS party’s theme was, “School Day Memories.” Attendees showed up in their school colors and t-shirts, brought their favorite vintage candy bars (if they could find one), and participated in old-time contests, such as “spinning the yo-yo,” which caused a lot of laughter.
Attendance at our chapter meetings is robust, ranging from 20-25 members at each meeting. This past year we instituted a change in our luncheons. Rather than the hostess and co-hostesses providing the entire lunch, we now alternate between SANDWICH DAY and SALAD BAR DAY, whereby each sister brings a sandwich or a salad component. This eases the load for everyone, while still embracing the fellowship of friendship during our sociable luncheon time.
Chapter DO Enjoyed our State Officer Visit in October:
Lia Christian’s visit to our chapter was interesting and informative. Each of our officers are to be commended for their preparation prior to the visitation. We were proud to hear that our chapter is healthy, both in membership and culture. It was acknowledged that we have many talented sisters. We were praised for our ability to find deserving applicants for the Project Scholarships and Loan funds. The visitation ended with an inspiring challenge for each sister to know why she is a P.E.O. and to share this joyfully with others.
In Summary: The state of our chapter is very positive. While we are not the same composition as a year ago, we continue our strong cooperative culture within the chapter that fosters working together in respective ways. The spirit of P.E.O.’s Mission and Core Values is very evident. Sisters demonstrate honesty and respect for each other, honor the respect and voice of individuals, while considering the common good of the chapter when making decisions.
I submit this letter with gratitude to all the sisters in Chapter DO, who unselfishly gave of their time and talents throughout the year, who joined hands with their sisters to sustain our chapter’s spirit and purpose, “Embracing each challenge handed to us as an opportunity for personal and chapter transformation.” (Adapted from a statement made by Bernie S. Siegel.)
Lovingly in P.E.O.