Friday, August 30, 2013

Sisters Unite!

Today I’m interviewing Eloise Stevens, the President of the Okaloosa County Alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The Delta Sigma Thetas are known for their service to their community and here’s why!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Eloise Stevens and I’m a retired Lt. Colonel from the United States Air Force. I am married to Cecil Stevens and have two adult children. I have been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for 37 years and I am a charter member of Nu Theta Chapter at Troy State University.

2. Explain each of the programs you do as part of the Five-Point Program Thrust.

Economic Development: We support predominately minority-based programs. We sponsor programs, seminars and workshops for minorities on procurement and entrepreneurship with special emphasis on personal financial planning and management of assets.

Educational Development: We conduct programs/projects designed to address the need for excellence in education. We give scholarships to high school seniors from Okaloosa and Walton County. In the Delta Academy/GEMS, we mentor young ladies and teach them about managing money, self-esteem, etiquette, STEM, voting, current events, community involvement and many other areas.

International Awareness and Involvement: Through international projects through Samaritan’s Purse and Clean Water Project for Africa, we have broadened our knowledge and understanding of other nations and increased interest in international affairs.

Physical and Mental Health: Our goal is education, prevention and wellness of each individual. Delta supports medical research, health fairs, and many more areas that support a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. We have participated in the Heart Walk, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Political Awareness and involvement: Our Founders participated in the Suffrage March for women to vote in 1913 which begin our political awareness and involvement. Our current focus is on accountability of our elected officials as well as our knowledge of policies and voting rights. We also participate in Delta Days at the state capitol in Tallahassee and the annual Martin Luther King Walk and do letter writing campaigns and call and meet with our elected officials as well as do voter registration drives and “Get out the Vote Campaigns.”

3. What are the goals of these programs? As stated previously, each program has a specific goal but, our overall goal is in our national theme: “Transforming Lives and Impacting Communities.”

4. About how many hours a month do you spend doing community service? Do you have an idea how many the sorority sisters do together in a month? I’m not sure, But, I do know during our sorority year September through June, we participate in numerous programs across each of our 5-Point Thrust.  Each member is a professional woman who is working in the community every day in some capacity.

5. Why is community service such an important aspect to membership in Delta Sigma Theta? Community service is the core of our identity.  It’s what makes life worthwhile to know that we can share our time, talent and resources.  Our theme this year “Okaloosa R.E.D.”(Re-investing Every Day) emphasizes service to someone, somewhere every day.

6. What do you personally get out of doing community service? It’s my “love offering” to Christ and the fulfillment of my commitment I made when I joined this glorious sisterhood. It’s setting the example, working for a better community and ultimately resulting in a better world.

7. What has been your most successful program and why?  Wow!  That’s a very hard question because we have so many signature programs and events.  But, since I have to choose one I would say our youth programs—Delta Academy and Delta GEMS. It’s simple—these programs provide hands on tutoring, mentoring, availability, example, sisterhood and sometimes a mother figure for young ladies from age 11-18 every month.

8. What advice would you give those who are interested in doing community service?  Be honest with yourself about your reason for giving back. Decide where you want to volunteer. Match your schedule to your desires. Don’t try to do everything. Finally “Just Do It!”

9. Is there anything else you would like to add? Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s 22 Founders were young collegiates who started a movement over 100 years ago, and we share that same compassion today.  So remember wherever you are in life, re-invest in your family, schools, jobs and communities every day.  Thank you for your interest in our illustrious sisterhood—Delta Sigma Theta.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Interview: Nancy Reynolds' Secret

Retired teacher Nancy Reynolds is happy. She has learned a secret of happy people which I’m going to tell you. Helping other people makes you happy!

She started volunteering for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Christian Values Conference in 1976 and, except for a few breaks here and there, has been doing it ever since. She got involved when the activity director Don Kyzer at her school “conned” her into doing the program. He told her she’d get to go relax in the mountains of North Carolina, but when she got there, she found out she was supposed to facilitate sessions with the teens.

“What I like about it is it’s not like a church camp. We do have a chaplain; we have devotions in the morning. There was the theme this year, God is here. It just goes down the path of making good choices, which you need to reiterate with high school kids. We keep them busy. When we hit the mountain, they get one afternoon free and that’s it…But once we get them up there, they want to come back,” said Reynolds.

They’ve had all kinds of campers in the years she’s been a leader. This year they had a gender challenged kid on the trip whose parents forced him to come. “This kid was totally accepted and about the third day said he couldn’t wait to come back the next year.” Reynold says she teaches the opposite of what kids usually hear. “It’s uncool to be cool. The sillier you are, the crazier you are, the more you are with the majority.” That’s how she gets all the kids on board.

She reminds me that any teen can go on the Blue Ridge trip because they do a fundraiser every month through the Y in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and the kids all have an account. If a student works on a fundraiser, they get part of the proceeds.

She’s also added some more charities to her circle, namely her church Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, a no kill cat shelter called Save Our Cats and Kittens (SOCKS) there also, and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) in Destin, Florida.

Since I’ve retired, I am so happy. I am 25 pounds lighter. I am so happy. I have something every day to do for someone else. I just think if we just had more people volunteering, we would have less depression. There’s a purpose for every day when you get up, there’s something to do. I find a lot of people my age they’re bored, they get tired of being by themselves. It’s so easy to get involved. It’s so easy to find people out there who need help, or animals. If you spend one afternoon purging stuff from the thrift store at SOCKS, you just feel so good.”

When asked what advice she would give those interested in doing community service she says, “Sometimes you fall into things if you just try them. If you can join a church there’s always something for you to do. The retired teachers, they do a lot. (There’s the) Junior Women’s League, the Homeless Coalition down at the Chamber. I got interested in that. I guess you’ve got to get your listening ears out, read it in the paper, find out from the Chamber. You just gotta get yourself out in the public.”

She volunteers at SOCKS as the publicity chair on the board and spends a day a week in the thrift store or wherever they need her. She says that SOCKS needs board members, volunteers, a corporate sponsor, and someone to do an audit of SOCKS so it can get grants. Soon, the facility will also need new roofs on its two buildings.

As for MSABC, she’s putting out challenges to churches and is trying to get the schools involved. Her church had a team last year and did a great fundraiser. “They had a naked spaghetti dinner. Everybody brought sauces. Somebody brought a salad and a bottle of wine. They made $500 that night and they didn’t spend a dime.”

MSABC needs teams to walk and fundraise. It’s open to everyone—families, churches, clubs, whatever. You can also walk in memory of or in honor of someone who has had cancer.

What has this veteran of teaching and life have to add as her secret to living a happy life? “I think keeping your health is so important. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help anyone else. You know, eating well, and exercising, and I find people at the gym, and I find out things to do through them. I’m also a believer in getting up in the morning and getting your requirements out of the way. I am done by 9 (with my workout) and I’ve got the whole day to do what I need to do.”

She has found out the secret to being happy—helping others. What a great vision for retired people and everyone. If you want to help with any of her endeavors, send me an email to or put a comment below and I’ll put you in touch. Thank you, Nancy for sharing your secret with my readers!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Acts of Kindness

I wanted to take a moment to report on the Great Kindness Challenge, hoping that some of you out there took the challenge and came up with something kind to do last Saturday. If so, please share your experience in the comments below.  

I have to say, when you come into a room full of ladies with a bunch of flowers in your hands, people tend to perk up a little. You can almost hear them thinking, “Who is getting those? Could it be me?”

A dozen strangers at my church got an individually wrapped pink rose put at their seats. I left them randomly while most of the ladies were out of the room, because once I got there, I realized I’d have to choose 12 ladies out of dozens, an impossible task. Who’s to say one is more worthy than another? Not me, that’s for sure.

Anyway, it was nice to see that my first experiment went so well. Everyone was thrilled to get their flowers. A couple people did identify me as the culprit giving them out and asked why, so I told them about the Great Kindness Challenge.

The next kindness task was for one of the pastors at this church. Since we’ve only been going there a few months and he was an assistant pastor that I’d only heard preach one time, I wasn’t sure what his name was. But that one sermon had been unforgettable.

While he was talking about temptation and overcoming it, he had a symbol of his own battle in front of him in the form of a hamburger patty, with onions, cheese, tomato and his favorite of all—BACON. He cooked the whole thing up while he gave the sermon. Talk about multitasking!

And despite his longings, he also gave it away after the sermon. He spent quite a while explaining how bacon makes everything better and he needed to try bacon-wrapped bacon.

So, when I was buying a card for a friend’s birthday and stumbled upon a sign that said in symbols, I Love Bacon, a little voice in my head (which I’m sure was from God) said “Buy it!” It wasn’t hard at all to leave it on his desk for him. I didn’t get to see his reaction, but the secretary who let me in said he would love it!

I then went to Walmart and got a few things I needed and looked at the flowers again. I decided to get some vibrant orange, yellow and purple daisies this time. I thought of several places to give them out, but I ended up at our local Methodist thrift shop.

After asking if I could give them out, I waited for shoppers to come by and offered flowers to them. Some said no, but changed their minds when they found out they were free. Others accepted them happily.

I, in return, accepted their smiles and thanks and thought, who’s getting the better deal here, them or me?

Altogether it was a lovely day and although I didn’t end world hunger or promote world peace, I definitely made some people smile. Did you? If you did, please share your acts of kindness in the comments whether or not they happened on Saturday. I’m always looking for great ideas! Thanks and God Bless.

Friday, August 9, 2013

More Gurus!

Besides doing this blog and my website (, I am the Volunteer and Charity Guru on Facebook where I post interesting tidbits about the charity and volunteering world on a semi-daily basis. At my Facebook page, you can find inspiring stories of people changing the world, links to fun and easy opportunities to do some changing yourself, as well as quotes and videos.

I recently found out I’m not the only guru in the volunteering and charity business. Who knew?  Tom Kelly is the Fundraising Guru on Facebook. We’re joined by the Gap Guru as well.

The more the merrier, I say! Kelly has some great tips for how to start a fundraising organization and how to raise money. His fundraising ideas include how to use QR codes and smartphones, mobile fundraising options and crowdfunding as well as categories like school fundraising, church fundraising, club fundraising, nonprofit fundraising and corporate fundraising.

The Gap Guru specializes in students who are taking a year off after finishing school to do something before beginning to work. They encourage volunteering around in the world in programs for education, conservation, sport coaching or medical volunteering, to name a few. The Gap Guru also has information on internships and teaching abroad.

There is a cost for the volunteering programs, ranging from about $775 to over $2500 depending on the program. They range in length of program from just one week to seven months.

Of course, my tips on volunteering and charity come out once a week on Fridays in my blog as well as during the week on my Facebook page. I happen to be on Twitter as well.

So, if you’re looking for ways to fundraise, volunteer abroad or do fun and easy ways to help charities, the gurus have got you covered!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Challenge!

Next Saturday is the day! The Great Kindness Challenge! I am so excited because I already have an idea for something to do. You see, the church I have been attending is having a ladies’ brunch that day which I have been looking forward to because I am new at the church. I’m eager to meet some other ladies and find out what this church does for missions work.

Since it’s the Great Kindness Challenge, I think I will stop beforehand and get a dozen roses and individually wrap them and give them out to random ladies at the brunch.

What will you do for the Great Kindness Challenge? If you need some ideas, the Kids for Peace, who started the challenge, have a few ideas (25 to be specific) on their website. They range from things like smiling at people and making thank you cards, to cleaning up and planting a tree.

Of course we want to do kind acts every day, but this is a day to help us remember that and give us a few hints on what kinds of things we can do.

I had gotten in the habit of bringing snacks to the guys at our local military base who check your ID when you go in, but since we’ve moved I have forgotten to do that. The Great Kindness Challenge is a reminder of that.

I also have some wonderful Kindness Cards that I can give out so that people for whom I do something can pass the kindness on by doing their own acts of kindness. There’s a new group selling kindness cards that tracks every kindness done. It’s called Think Kindness Cards and they have their own ideas for kindnesses to do as well. They charge $10 for 5 cards, but other groups give them for free or allow you to print them from your computer for free, such as Smile Cards from,,,, SavingandSharingforChrist.

To find more, just use this search, which shows you what the cards look like and provides a link to the page where you can get them. I’ve also found Kerry Shook Ministries, which sells kindness cards that you can personalize with the name and website of your church. Most of these sites have great suggestions of ideas for kindnesses to try, too!

Maybe you also want to thank people for acts of kindness, so I found some great Thank You cards for acts of kindness by Mummy Adventures which is a crafting blog. These are business-size cards you can carry around to give out as well.

That’s it for today. Start thinking about what kindnesses you can do next Saturday and print out some cards to get ready. You may even want to practice by doing a few this week. God Bless!