Good times were stitched into 2005 with ESA’s introduction to Quilt of Dreams, a nationwide fundraising promotion sponsored by Hancock Fabrics to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Hancock Fabrics designed a few one-of-a-kind fabric patterns, some using original patient artwork and others inspired by dreams of children receiving treatments at the hospital.
Twelve ESA locations across the country were targeted to host showcase auction events featuring the Quilt of Dreams winning quilts to raise additional dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Chapters spent countless hours preparing for their event; luncheons with door prizes, garden parties with tea and desserts, coverage by local television outlets, and appearances by St. Jude families. All other chapters got the opportunity to request 10 quilts from the ESA for St. Jude Office to sell at existing local fundraising events.
Later that year, at the International Council Convention, members were invited to participate in a new Hope for Heroes program. This program was geared towards honoring our country’s active duty military men and women. Chapters or individual members shopped and prepared care packages to send to a service person stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan on or near Veteran’s Day. Members were eager to gather goods and put together packages for troops overseas.
ESA members continued to give hope when disaster hit Mississippi in August of 2005. Hurricane Katrina had a strong influence on ESA members Betty Kreider and Sue White. Outpourings of love, concern, and support came in from members all over the country. In spite of their own losses and problems, Betty and Sue looked for some way to be of service to those who were in much worse condition. They started by volunteering with the American Red Cross in their own town of Laurel, MS. From hand-writing thousands of assistance checks and setting up a computer system to manual labor, they did it all!
Throughout the tragedy and devastation, Sue and Betty found hope; not only for the victims they helped but also the hope of forming a new chapter of ESA. They sought out others serving their communities and met various volunteers from the Salvation Army, churches, local businesses and other residents. Roughly 600-800 volunteer hours were logged before Delta Chi Chapter of Laurel, MS was officially chartered.
At the end of 2005 after the anguish cultivated by natural and personal disasters, ESA reaffirmed that its greatest strength exists within its network of friendships. To enhance the strength of this network ESA proudly introduced a newly organized Care Connection program. In an added effort to give back, ESA’s mission of “bringing good people together to do good things.” This program provided caring services to individuals in various situations.
The caring continued as fundraising events geared towards finding cures and saving children took place until the 2006 International Council Convention in Palm Desert, CA. Joy spread through 594 attendees when the presentation of dollars showed a total of $12,160,286 in cash and pledges for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The Wednesday of convention marked a new frontier for ESA. “The Power of One” certified leadership seminar went down as one of the most influential and valuable events in ESA history as it was the first of its kind at convention. Several hundred attendees, including ESA members and business professionals from the community, joined together for an entire day of inspiring stories that empowered, challenged, and motivated them to focus on their own personal powers.
Throughout convention, members heard about the miracles performed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with ESA’s wonderful support. They also heard about the positive impact of other good works through Easter Seals and the Hope for Heroes program. ESA learned that members can increase positive impacts for each other and for the world through continuing programs like the Care Connection and creating new programs like the Grateful Grandparent program to create hope for generations to come. It was a wonderful 59th
International Council Convention; one filled with promise and hope for both ESA and the causes we hold so dear.
The 2006-2007 year flew by and Seattle, WA was ready for almost 500 members for the 60th
International Council Convention. The beautiful “Celebration of Life” on Thursday released butterflies in honor of all ESA members whose spirits had flown away that year. Convention continued with an IC Challenge where members learned how to make fish fly at Pike Place Fish Market. Everyone had a fabulous time and the event raised a total of $115,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Home is indeed wherever the ESA heart is. Check back in two weeks to see how the ESA family tree continued to grow!
Written by Audrey Potter