Just as Sisters on the Fly and Sister-Corps did for Luggage of Love and for the national blood drive, we are asking for a joint effort to help others during the upcoming holidays. Serving Community will focus this year on a food drive to assist in the food insecurity across our nation. As an OPTIONAL part of upcoming luncheons and events, please consider donations of canned foods (OR the focus of the past three years of basic necessities for women’s shelters.)
This year is particularly dire for many people in our nation and food banks are having more difficulty than ever meeting those needs. There is particular concern for children and for the elderly. With the large membership of Sisters on the Fly and numerous events in the upcoming months, we can all make a difference with the generosity that members of SOTF have always shown. As always, participation is optional and a private decision. However, the ability of SOTF to communicate and to have leaders coordinate the effort will be helpful to hundreds of individuals and families from coast to coast.
How this works:
A Sister steps up to lead a regional or local drive. The actual collection can be at a luncheon or at a camping event.
One member (or a pair) of Sisters on the Fly will agree to be the one coordinator for the local/area Serving Community donations. She will do all the “footwork” – these are the suggested steps:
1. Contact and select a food bank OR local women’s shelter;
2. Contact the manager or director;
3. Explain our project;
4. Verify the need/s of the agency and their interest in being on the receiving end;
5. IF FOOD BANK- ascertain the kinds of food items that they need most,
IF WOMEN’S SHELTER--ascertain the approximate number of women that they believe would be in need. (if necessary, select a second shelter if the giving interest is higher than the first shelter seems to need);
6. Plan communication with area Sisters for the Serving Community Drive;
7. Be in charge of getting all the donations to the appropriate receiving agency.
** The local coordinator will earn a Sister-Corps patch (if it is her first SC project) or a stripe if she has participated in past SC projects. The patch is in recognition of the amount of work involved in heading up the project.
But—what happened to Luggage of Love?
It came to our attention that there was a nationwide drive for foster children—we do not want to detract, and we can easily use other names to solve this issue.
Q: What exactly is the Serving Community Project:
A: Holiday party attendees bring:
IF FOOD DRIVE- canned or boxed items. See guidelines below...
OR if WOMEN’S SHELTER- small tote bags or backpacks “filled” with essentials for women in an area women’s shelter. These women are often overlooked in gifting and they are in need of the most basic of items. They often left their situation, with only what they could put in a plastic bag SO BASIC NECESSITIES IS A CRITICAL PART OF THE GIFT.
Q: When does this project begin and end?
A: This project can begin as soon as a coordinator steps up. And the project can continue through Valentine’s Day. The idea originally was to conduct this project during the Holiday Season, but at least one group has indicated interest in conducting it during Valentine’s Day. The need exists year around.
Q: What are the guidelines for food to be collected?
A: All food needs to be within the current date, and package or can needs to be intact. Do not collect any items in GLASS container. Donate foods that provide good nourishment –choose protein as much as possible. Other popular items are: peanut butter, vegetables, canned fruit, canned meats. Please be selective and avoid donating unusual items that families are unlikely going to use.
Q: What items are suggested for putting in the tote bags for women’s shelter?
A: Items such as lotion, pajamas, hygiene products (toothbrushes, toothpaste, panty liners and tampons, bar soap, small shampoo and conditioner), brush and comb, undies, hair bands or ties, cute socks, neck pillow, house slippers etc. These are just suggestions—but please remember to keep it as BASIC items they need and cannot afford. This is not the situation for pricey, fluffy “things”, but IS the time and place for the most basic needs for hygiene and living.
Q: Should these items be gift-wrapped?
A: No. The items all need to be UNWRAPPED so the agency can determine the best recipients for the items.
Q: Can the local coordinator collect BOTH for a FOOD BANK and for a WOMEN’S SHELTER?
A: YES, that is an option. BUT BE AWARE that is double the number of contacts and phone calls etc. AND also be aware of the limits on what your local sisters can provide and consider if this stretches the financial resources of the group.
Q: Can I donate gift cards or money?
A: This project is designed to have donations of actual items. Experienced managers of shelters say that often the woman getting a gift card, will use the money for her children. Please do not donate gift cards OR MONEY.
Q: What if some of us prefer to collect items for an animal rescue or toys for children etc?
A. Those are worthy charities and we appreciate the work they are doing. However, THIS drive is focused on the hunger issue in our country AND/OR the basic necessities of women who have fled domestic violence and are in a shelters.
Q: What else does the local coordinator do?
A: As items are donated, take a measurement or a count (pounds or number of items) and photographs of Sisters donating or the large mound of items donated AND POST ON area or local SOTF FB PAGE OR SISTER-CORPS FACEBOOK PAGE as soon as possible and preferably before the end of 2022. If your project extends in to 2023, limit posting to the Sister-Corps Facebook page.
For assistance and for more helpful guidelines, please contact: Anna Tobias (281) 923-4612
At a recent meeting of the Sister-Corps Board of Directors, I presented the "State of the State" of Sister-Corps -- from my perspective.
It is an understatement to say this was a dramatic year of significant growth for us as a 501 (C) (3). The following document was the presentation to the Board of our activities and achievements for the year to date. Please understand it is long because much was accomplished and so many that led our work are rightly due personal acknowledgement!
In 2021 Sister-Corps was in the middle of the third year as a 501 (C) (3) and the end of 2021 Sister-Corps has completed 24 projects (see the website for the Chronology) from the founding in 2017 (including the third major hurricane relief project). Sister-Corps experienced the greatest growth as an organization in 2021 since the first project started the organization in the Fall of 2017. The following summarizes the accomplishments and activities of the past year. It is written from the perspective of the Board with the hope that it will enlighten and inform Sister-Corps participants and supporters---the people that make this meaningful work happen. (The numbers embedded in the text are to serve as a means of a running tally of the work underway or completed. The year’s major changes and activities fall into several categories all in bold font.)
The area of management is probably the most significant as it takes in policy, structure, decision-making, and leadership. In late January 2021, the Board was offered the 1) services of an attorney D’Ann Johnson (TX), a volunteer and supporter of Sister-Corps, who had a long professional career as an attorney specializing in non-profit compliance. Her first recommendation was that 2) we undergo a major revision of the by-laws to make them align with the organization’s formation papers along with “best practices”. In a separate activity, the organization 3) completed a major revision of the Procedure Guidebook along with creating a 4) decision-making flow chart which provides a means of assessing the “fit” of potential projects with the mission of Sister-Corps. 5) The board experienced the turnover of two Directors, the Secretary, and the Treasurer, and brought on new members in those positions. Our Board of Directors consists of members from across the nation.
The area of finance was also one of significant growth because financial stability is vital for any organization to be strong and to be able to do the work of the organization. A deep treasury -- the reserves of an organization-- are the means by which it can respond in a nimble way to sudden and urgent demands as well as to survive in lean times. We are always very careful stewards of the money that donors so generously provide; the board examines every expenditure for effectiveness and need. We are relieved to share that the 6) overall budget of the organization improved by around 400% going from $10,000 balance at the end of 2020 to a year-ending balance of $40,000 (before the $20,000 costs of the upcoming Louisiana project). The 7) treasurer’s position was filled by a professional CPA who had a career in non-profit accounting, Candace Donohue (TX) who 8) organized our bookkeeping in Quickbooks Pro, and made 9) major improvements in the system of bookkeeping. 10) Donations from across the national membership of Sisters on the Fly increased, as did the number of SOTF organized funding drives through events. Sister-Corps 11) became eligible in February to become a part of Amazon Smiles approved charities list, and became 12) eligible to be a Facebook Fundraiser. (Approximately $9,000 in donations this past seven months have come in through the Facebook fundraisers.) 13) Sister-Corps received the first grant in April for $10,000; the grant was designated for technology, specifically for a website. allowing this needed improvement to be done without using any funds from our donors! 14). The funding committee (led by Eileen Conley (SC) and Jane Farmer (FL) held an auction in June via an internet platform with a profit of around $2,200. 15) The Board will also be using technology grant money to invest in Foundation Search, a database for foundations with grants. Non-profits across the nation use this program with great deal of success. 16) The new website has a donate button on the facing page. Sister-Corps 17) became registered on Guidestar, a national non-profit clearinghouse, and we have achieved a Silver level rating. 18) The organization also became registered with Benevity, a clearinghouse for verified non-profits, and with 19) Front Door, another national non-profit network. 20) The new website using Galaxy platform, will allow all project registrations to be in our control and will maintain a record of our participants’ hours which will help us have data that is required in grant writing.
One of the goals for the year 2021, was to work on areas of communication: internal and external.”. The specific goals that were set and accomplished, were to develop a Mission Statement; a 21) committee submitted the proposed mission statement to the Board in March and it was approved. Further, the Communication Committee (led by Jean Zartman (TN & CA) held a call for new logo design; three finalists (Ginger Adrian (CA), Gigi Ortwein (FL), Demaree Hoover (TN) submitted their designs in May and 22) the Board selected the final logo in June. The most significant improvement in the area of Communications for the organization, was the 23) move to Google Workspace for our day-to-day communicating and conducting of business AND for the 24) Google Docs functionality for our storage of files commonly shared in the organization. The Board used the grant funds and 25) developed a website in September (led by Sheri Johnson (TX) www.sister-corps.com; the organization now has a web presence with strong functionality for communication for anyone who visits the site. Functionality of the website is made robust by the Galaxy platform for volunteer management; this technology is led by Anna Tobias (TX). Sister-Corps began a presence on other social media platforms: 26) YouTube, 27) Instagram, and 28) Pinterest. Each of the last three sites will need to be developed. 29) Sister Corps Board appointed a donor relations committee-led by advisory panel member Roxie Larson (UT) and also a 30) appointed Advisory Panel member Beverly Worth (AZ) to handle the record-keeping and dispensing of badges and stripes. 31) Sister Corps subscribed to a toll-free, mobile number for a corporate phone number.
The fundamental reason Sister Corps exists is to serve others through projects for relief work, environmental service, or other community needs. The organization 32) held the third major hurricane relief project in January in Louisiana (led by Lisa Ellick, (SC) with a project budget of $17,000. Although the COVID pandemic was a major concern and tight protocol was observed, 44 women came from 8 states to work on 9 houses. Upon our return from the Lake Charles area, a 33) FEMA representative contacted Sister-Corps asking to help connect us to FEMA on future projects because they need us. Upon a long debriefing after each project, the board learns ways to improve the organization and the management of projects, and Louisiana resulted in 34) significant refinement of the project guidebook.
Sister-Corps also 35) sponsored the first national Blood Drive in the months of July and August with approximately 134 units of blood or blood products donated across the nation. The Blood Donation committee (led by Deb Binegar (KS) has recommended this become a standing project for Sister-Corps and be held twice a year project. Sister-Corps 36) sponsored the third annual Luggage of Love (led by Marylou Hostetter (TX) – a drive for basic necessities for women in domestic violence shelters. It appears that the participation was at an all-time high this year.
After hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast, we learned of the precarious position of the Houma Nation in Louisiana, a Native American tribe with “unrecognized status” by the United States. They are an aged population with few resources and a very low economy. Sister-Corps took their listed needs and created a 37) Rapid Response project in which individual donors across the country could participate in a drive of basic necessities. Approximately 40 donations totaling around $4,500 were purchased and sent directly to the Houma center. As the end of the year approaches, Sister-Corps has a 38) planning team and a project director (Jen Ehrhardt (FL) in place for the next hurricane relief project. The event will be held in Houma/Morgan City area in mid March 2022. The project is in a good place financially and with planning team.
Our Advisory Panel has taken in some new members, many with some specific skills (besides those already mentioned). Marylou Hostetter (TX), a graphic artist and much more, has already helped create videos for S-C, Lisa Moreland (LA) on the planning committee for the SELA project in March and taking the position as Chair of the Advisory Panel, GretaRigney (TX) planning committee for SELA, Assistant web site Administrator and grant writing, Shelly Pricco (WA) grant writing, Nancy LaPlace (TN) environmental and financial interests, Linda Link (NM)- trauma and crisis counseling, Ginger Adrian (CA) graphic artist and website builder, Kris Knox (OR) long history as president of a non-profit as well as law enforcement and emergency services background, and Candace Anderson-Ek (ME) background with nonprofit work with refugees.
As the Board ends the year 2021, Sister-Corps is in a stable and effective position. The Board has a strong, committed team with experience, common values, positive attitude. We are in a stable position to accommodate for more growth in our financial stability—and move to increase the nationwide scope of our projects as well increase participation in various Sister-Corps endeavors.
The Sister-Corps Board set in place the following goals for 2022:
Projects: Successful Louisiana Project March 2022
One medium size project and two “small” area or regional projects
More Sister-Corps mini- projects, such as a few hours on a park or river cleanup;
More opportunities for a “quick” Sister Corps project in conjunction with an SOTF event—such as the beach cleanup at Free to Be: aka Gypsies on the Beach.
Finances: Submit 4-6 grant applications in 2022;
Increase our participation in the national Giving Tuesday campaign (Nov 2022);
Continue to build a strong financial reserve for our “Rainy Day.”
Strengthen the role of Advisory Panel;
Increase the registrations of our volunteer base on the website database;
Increase our media/ public communication.
Respectfully submitted on the Behalf of the Sister-Corps Board of Directors
Leeann Moore, (TX) President
December 8, 2021
Sherry Gibbons (TX) Vice President
Jane Farmer (FL) Secretary
Sandy Sherman (ID) Treasurer
Anna Tobias (TX) Director
Sheri Johnson (TX) Director
Marie Breckel (OR) Director
Luggage of Love Project: Luggage of Love (L.O.L.), an annual event, where donations are distributed to area Domestic Abuse Shelters in the USA. Victims often flee with only the clothes on their backs & have little possessions. L.O.L. gather gym bags/back packs & personal hygiene items that victims receive as their journey begins to safety and recovery. L.O.L. - giving those in need the ability to empower and care for themselves.
Sister-Corps received a $530 check for funds collected at the Arizona White Tanks fundraiser as well as $230 from the Mississippi Sisters.
THANK YOU ALL!
Sister-Corps received a $2,063.54 check from Network for Good (the collecting agency for Facebook fundraisers).
A Big THANK YOU to all that donated through our
Sister-Corps truly appreciates your donations.
*FYI the reports we run from Network for Good and Amazon Smiles do NOT reflect who donated nor the day they donated. The report reflects one date and that is the date the check was cut to Sister-Corps. All donors listed on the report are reflected as: anonymous.