! Important Reminders:
- Journey submissions due August 1st for Fall 2019 issue
- State President’s Leadership – Denver, CO Feb 6-8, 2020
- Regional Leadership – St. Louis, March 14, 2020
From July 17th to 21st more than 500 ESA members from 34 states gathered in Memphis, TN for the 72nd Annual International Council Convention. There were 84 first time convention attendees, two of whom were from ESA Headquarters. Here are first impressions from Mackeigan and Deena.
Mackeigan: I had the privilege of arriving at Convention Sunday with Charlotte so I was able to meet lots of important members before everyone arrived and chaos commenced. It was exciting to meet so many of the members that I had been talking to for the last few months and so many new members that made convention possible. The amount of work they put in was truly commendable!
Deena: This year I was able to attend my first ESA International Convention after being with the organization for two years. I have attended two leaderships but was looking forward to having a whole new experience. I knew that this event was much larger especially this year being back in Memphis, TN and celebrating our 90th year.
I was excited to meet all those I had only spoken to over the phone or emailed. It was remarkable to see the number of members who traveled near and far all sitting in one room to come and learn, have fun and make new friends. I realized there was a lot to see and do after looking over the full agenda. Every day I tried to attend as many of the workshops, assemblies and events that I could so I could get the full feel of what being at convention was like.
Tours of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital brought many members in early in the week, and the ESA Foundation Fund Fest on Tuesday night allowed attendees to support the Foundation through auctions and games.
Wednesday morning at the ESA Foundation Life Active Breakfast excitement was high. The ESA Foundation unveiled a new grant funded by Life Active Memberships. The ESA Foundation Board of Directors approved a grant for $50,000 to the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The grant, will be donated in annual contributions of $10,000, initiated in 2019.
Dr. Stephen White, Dean of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences shared with us his goals for the program and its impact on individuals around the world.
Later that evening the 2019 convention officially kicked off with dancing and merriment at the Welcome party.
Getting down to business on Thursday morning at the Membership Workshop, Tracy challenged the membership to bring back those ESA-created events that we LOVE and spend more time working on those events that get members excited. She also spent time talking about the ESA Chapter Membership Guide and how it can be used in all chapters to increase new membership and current member retention (check out the guide here: www.epsilonsigmaalpha.org/chapterguide
Tracy provided some great problem solving tools and resources that can be found at www.epsilonsigmaalpha.org/recruiment
On Thursday attendees were also treated to a number of workshops, including Easterseals – Hope for Heroes – Flavor of Memphis History – Flavor of Memphis Music.
Friday came with even more enthusiasm then we could have expected as we headed to the 1st
General Assembly where keynote speaker Elise Mitchell shared her experiences building her company and reminded us that “the journey matters as much as the destination.” After the assembly members celebrated all the accomplishments from the 2018-2019 ESA year at the Recognition Luncheon.
Mackeigan: After the luncheon, my nerves were beginning to build because it was my turn to take the stage for the first time and impress these incredible members. Lurene Connor stopped me in the hallway and told me about a family she knew in Murphysboro, IL with the same last name as me. My eyes lit up and nerves instantly clamed. She was talking about MY family. The people who taught me to be generous, thoughtful, hardworking, and kind. I was overjoyed! It was the perfect reminder of why I belong at ESA.
As always, the St. Jude Meet the Patients workshop was a highlight of convention. ESA members heard from Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC, about the amazing history of the relationship between ESA and St. Jude. Speakers from both the Volunteer Management System and the St. Jude Walk/Run program shared updates on their platforms and how ESA members can assist St. Jude in advancing both programs. Finally, members met former St. Jude patient and current ALSAC employee Mariangeles Grear, who shared her powerful St. Jude story.
Deena: At headquarters, the majority of my job is working with our St. Jude department. I was excited to take a tour of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, attend the IC Challenge, St. Jude Workshop and other morning breakfasts that highlighted our work with the hospital. While attending these events, I was able to put into perspective the amount of time and work our members put in to helping raise money for St. Jude and the impact that it has on the patients, employees, and even people around the world. There were a couple of moments that really stood out to me and really got me thinking far beyond what I do everyday in the office.
I would have to say one of the most fun St. Jude events for me was the IC Challenge. I normally only handle the back end of this event so physically being there this time was truly unbelievable. Everyone really brought their spirit and the energy in the room was high! We had some great speakers, saw some great videos and sang and cheered together. This truly showed the love and support ESA has for St. Jude.
At the IC Challenge on Friday evening, Lisa Walters, Family Nurse Practitioner for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, spoke to attendees about her experience with patients and taught us the No More Chemo song. (See Facebook for a video clip of the No More Chemo song.) The event was full of energy and excitement, especially after the event total was announced – over $56,000!
On Saturday morning, just when we thought we couldn’t possibly be any more proud of our wonderful organization, Kim Kummer acknowledged each and every INCREDIBLE member at the 2nd
Mackeigan: As a new member of the ESA Headquarters team, I have learned a lot about ESA member’s dedication to community and the welfare of others. It wasn’t until Kim had people stand that I realized just how far our members would go in an effort to help others. She asked members to stand if it was their first convention, then their second. She continued until she reached 57th convention attended. There are members in ESA that have been attending conventions for 57 years! Seeing those members stand in front of me was humbling. They have dedicated their lives to serving others through ESA.
And just like that, it was time to celebrate our newly installed International Council officers at the Saturday night banquet. ALSAC Senior Vice President Chris Boysen spoke about his long history with ESA and shared a story of his favorite St. Jude patient.
Deena: It was amazing to hear how our organization was at the forefront and pioneered events like Radiothons, Marathons and Dream Homes. It really made me more proud of the work I do every day and especially of all our dedicated members.
Finally, it was time for ESA’s Presentation of Dollars celebrating each state’s fundraising efforts for St. Jude throughout the year. Congratulations to everyone for an INCREDIBLE year fundraising for St. Jude! We raised $22,806,798 in 2018-2019. That brings our lifetime total raised to $290,443,946! Outstanding!!
Deena: Overall my first experience at International Convention was a blast. It meant so much to be a part of it on this 90th year. Everyone put in so much work to make this a great event. I heard a lot of great stories, met a lot of wonderful people and learned so much more about what ESA really is. Good friends, good works, good times. I hope to attend another convention in the future.
Written by Mackeigan Wuest and Deena Steele