Gratitude in Action

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:40 AM

Jennifer Graber, EdD, MSN, BSN, APRN, CS, BC
Jennifer Saylor, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, APRN-BC
Cynthia A. Diefenbeck, PsyD, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC
School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

Innate to the culture of our chapter is the spirit of giving and promoting philanthropy through gratitude in action. Our desire to promote the welfare of others is expressed through fundraising and monetary donations in our local communities as well as celebrating member successes while remaining socially conscience of global needs. Our chapter is committed to demonstrating altruistic and compassionate values in our chapter, community and global initiatives.

Our chapter holds an annual Membership Appreciation night to celebrate our active, inactive and potential members. The opportunity to newly form and reignite collaborative relationships, offer appreciation, and embrace the spirit of giving is cultivated in this informal gathering. For the past four years, our chapter has collaborated with the University’s Nursing Alumni Network to bring together former graduates, members and promote munificence. This past appreciation celebration, our chapter celebrated its’ fortieth anniversary. Our current and past presidents were honored for their dedication and contributions to the chapter. One past president has started a new journey for our chapter in recognizing and renewing our livacy.  Creative writings on individual thoughts, feelings and vision for the future of our chapter, STTI and the nursing profession were collected. Individuals were encouraged to think about what their legacy would be and were then challenged to actively participate and live that journey. Members were also asked to bring personal hygiene items for a future donation to a local community center, which supports those who are in need.

Our chapter has a long-standing history of embracing service and showing gratitude as a core strategic value.  Our service initiatives respond to the needs of vulnerable populations both locally and globally.  The outreach endeavors are initiated and coordinated by and include a variety of our members.  Members have formed strategic alliances with numerous community agencies to conduct these efforts, which help publicize the unique contributions of STTI.  Community collaborations also help to increase the impact of our service efforts and ensure the sustainability of efforts over time.

Our chapter shows gratitude in action by supporting area hospitals by providing annual grant support of $1,000 as well as mentorship to nursing staff to bridge the gap between research and practice. The financial support may be used for the direct costs incurred for research projects (e.g., survey materials, equipment, printing, statistician, etc.) or research dissemination (poster or podium preparation).

Our chapter recognizes the challenges members of our communities face with chronic mental illness. Members of the chapter, in collaboration with local mental health clinics, have developed a continuing program for our Annual Holiday Outreach. The local mental health clinic determines holiday wish list items and then the wish lists are disseminated among members who may purchase items from the list to be presented during the holiday seasons. These gifts are often in the form of everyday necessities such as clothing and personal hygiene items. This collaborative effort culminates in an annual Holiday Party for the residents.

In response to the president’s call to action, our members were challenged to provide 90 Minutes of Service during the week of Founders Day. The act of giving is contagious when the outcomes and personal enjoyment in providing service is displayed to others. With this in mind, members were asked to share services completed during this time on social media platforms promoting paying it forward.  Members participated in a local 5K run to support safe driving habits following the death of a local nursing student in a tragic car accident.

We also express our gratitude to chapter members who have demonstrated selfless behaviors going above and beyond expectations and providing inspiration to others by presenting them the annual Florence Nightingale Award. The recipient of this award is selected by the chapter president and presented a certificate during our fall membership induction ceremony. In addition, the recipient is highlighted in our chapter newsletter. Our chapter has also made a concerted effort to include newly inducted members or those in their first year feel appreciated for their efforts.  In addition to the Membership Ambassador efforts to stay connected with newly inducted members, times were offered at meetings for networking. These informal but planned times were appreciated by the members and led to increasing active members.  Our chapter also shows appreciation to mentors and colleagues by awarding full and partial travel for the STTI Leadership Conference. The chapter continues to support members to attend the local consortium brunch.

Two years ago a Wine Tasting Benefit Event was designed to raise money for expanding our philanthropy efforts.  The chapter provides food and members can attend to support the event and our outreach initiatives.  The chapter receives money that is used to complete over 60 hygiene packs for a local charity. Our chapter has also been involved with Stockings for Soldiers, Books for Uganda, Hygiene packs for Haiti, Flip-Flops for Haiti, a UNICEF Water pump for Africa, and the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief.

Our chapter’s support of showing gratitude also extends to its own members.  Student scholarships are provided each year.  In addition, new member subsidies are available if invited candidates are unable to join due to financial barriers.  The chapter works with these students to help them complete the Edith Anderson subsidy application.  The chapter agrees to finance the remainder of the membership and induction fees not covered by the Edith Anderson subsidy.

A strong foundation for gratitude in action is a chapter that engages members to share information and work towards common goals. Our chapter encourages members to connect at board meetings, through newsletters, online through social media and email, and more. To keep members connected and updated with real-time information, our chapter is actively utilizing The Circle, Sigma Thea Tau's professional networking site, to post information about member activity, chapter achievements, and upcoming events. On this site, members have the ability to participate in discussions, personalize their profile, access chapter news and much more. The Circle is one of many ways to introduce our newest members to networking and becoming involved in events and activities. In addition to The Circle, Our uses social media to build an involved network and expand collaboration on Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Our chapter reaches out to chapters across STTI networks and creates collaborative initiatives by networking at conventions and conferences. Our chapter attends two local Consortiums, as well as the Leadership Connection Conference. Our chapter joined the region by serving on the planning committee to develop the conference about providing veteran care into the community with a focus upon behavioral health. Our chapter also served on the donation committee of the other local consortium. The international Leadership Connection Conference was attended by four of our members and in an effort to enhance professional and chapter leadership goals, and our members attended sessions on strategic planning, advancement of technology and the Circle, member recruitment and retention, board management, leadership in mentoring, outreach, workplace violence, and developing global leadership. This chapter also has an active member on the STTI international governance committee. 

Our ability to maintain a vibrant service outreach orientation that responds to the needs of vulnerable populations locally, regionally, and internationally, is directly related to the passion, dedication, and enthusiasm of our members and shows our gratitude in action.  In addition, our chapter maintains a vibrant Philanthropy Committee which supports these efforts through a variety of fund-raising activities. A strong foundation of our chapter is our continued dedication to involvement and outreach initiatives for nurses as demonstrated by member collaboration and networking locally, regionally, and globally. Our chapter demonstrates strong leadership qualities and is committed to the mission and goals of Sigma Theta Tau International. As a chapter, we believe our efforts to give and display gratitude towards others not only in our professional but personal lives, is exemplary.  However, we are constantly evaluating and modifying our approaches on how best to remain magnanimous in our local, state and global efforts.