One week in February, I had the pleasure of visiting three chapters, and seeing them consecutively was an excellent way to highlight the unique strengths of each. Here I'll share with you a small part of the joy I experienced, and I'm inviting you to bring your favorite project or program to share at the March 17 Board Meeting. With this sharing, we can all grow together!
First, I visited Mu Chapter's co-meeting with AAUW in Longmont. Mu's co-meeting models a way for chapters to join forces with other educational groups in your own communities. Think about your own community. What other groups in your area are working to create excellence in education? How can you partner with other groups for a meeting? Could you invite new chapter members from that other group as well?
Mu Chapter President, Susan Burnett, arranged an amazing panel discussion on Mental Health in Our Community. The program gave me a wonderful set of resources, and I am so grateful to see such powerful programs in our chapters! One panel member was a high school counselor who directly teaches mindfulness strategies to 9th grade students to help them take charge of their own feelings. Another panel member coordinates Longmont's Supporting Action for Mental Health which engages the community to remove the stigma of mental health needs; you can request their free Conversation Guide for a chapter or community discussion from bit.ly/supportingactionformentalhealth. The guide is very informative and easy to use. It includes conversations starters like: When a community is at its best in supporting members who are struggling with mental health issues, what does it look like? What is your vision for our community in the future? I also like their handout with three levels of crisis and local numbers to call for help, and there's more information at http://letstalkco.org/. Wouldn't it be amazing for Omega State chapters to use these 3 Situation levels to develop local resources for our own communities and make great strides in meeting mental health needs all across Colorado?
Next, I visited Kappa Chapter in Johnstown. I had already been delighted with Kappa Chapter President Robin Denman when we worked on the 2017 State Convention, but when I arrived at Judy's house, I didn't know a single person in the room. Each member introduced herself, chatted about reading and sewing hobbies and asked me about mine (I write and paint watercolors), and then we sat together eating homemade corn chowder and minestrone soup and other culinary delights.
The program on salmon fishing in Alaska was lots of fun, and the business meeting included Kappa's tradition to donate a dollar to World Fellowship and have a drawing for a gift that a member has brought from her travels. This process raises money and lets a member share details of her trip as she gives to another member--so it's a win/win/win. Since Sharon had won last time, she gave me the amazing dates from Yuma, the magnetic black stone necklace (I'm wearing), and the lovely pink stone swan which was her gift. There were so many beautiful creations and gifts to each other; each sister got a heart-shaped fabric sachet, a can of salmon, and a beautiful handmade embossed card. Kappa's Spirit of Sisterhood leads us all--love your sisters, give to your sisters, share your talents. Think about these three things. How do you love your chapter sisters? What do you give to them? How do you share your talents at each meeting?
From Johnstown, I went to Sedgwick, way out near the Nebraska border, to visit Alpha Eta. One member said she lives right on the Colorado/Nebraska state line! Co-presidents Pam Green and Karen Lechman continue growing the chapter, and even this meeting had two new initiates. As a dozen of us sat around Pam's table (covered in the most beautiful crocheted tablecloth I have ever seen), she said she wanted her chapter to feel like family. Young teachers spoke about how they loved being in the chapter with the older teachers who had mentored them, making me realize that family atmosphere is exactly the kind of chapter Pam and Karen have created!
Members gave me so many new ideas--using physical activity during classes to help student learning and behavior, painting an underwater self-portrait with something behind me and something in front, and choosing a word each January to guide my personal growth--Jeni's article in Omega Peaks details the process. From Alpha Eta's yearly theme "Going for the Gold" to the February meeting theme "Hearts of Gold," this chapter amazed me. My favorite thing was something they did so naturally they didn't even think about it. The chapter had presented an activity with felt hearts to a local nursing home. When the library needed an activity, Alpha Eta donated the extra felt hearts; thus, with one single activity, they had touched three parts of the community--the nursing home, the library, and the little children. That is exactly what Omega State does--welcomes everyone into our family and connects all parts of our community. Think about your chapter. Do you want to feel like family, like sisters? How do you connect to each other? To your community?
I would love to write about my visit to every single chapter, sharing all the grand ways we're promoting personal and professional growth of women educators and excellence in education! Seeing Mu, Kappa, and Alpha Eta in the same week gave me a distinct picture of how unique each of our Chapters is, how strong each is, and how we can share ideas to grow each other.
Thank you for the honor of joining you.