Deborah Peterson is the Sew Powerful Chapter Leader of the Oly~Lacy Crafty Sewers. In this episode we learn about Deborah's interesting background but really delve into what it has been like to form a Sew Powerful Chapter. We talk about how she found new members, what materials she found helpful and how, through her outreach, she has brought more than a dozen new purse makers into the Sew Powerful fold. We talk about an upcoming Quarterly Chapter Leaders' meeting, which will actually take place the day before this episode airs. If you are thinking of forming or joining a Sew Powerful Chapter, you won't want to miss this episode.
Chapter Leader Tell-All with Deborah Peterson
IN THIS EPISODE
Chapter leader, Nextdoor app, Quality Sewing and Vac, GFWC Capital Women's Club, interventional cardiology, Chapter Formation Starter Kit, quarterly chapter leader zoom meetings, flyers, note card making, sewing for charity
We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.
Nextdoor app, https://nextdoor.com/
Quality Sewing and Vac, https://www.qualitysewing.com/
GFWC Capital Women’s Club, https://www.gfwcws.org/
Sew Powerful Chapter Formation Starter Kit, https://www.sewpowerful.org/pages/form-a-new-chapter
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Deborah Peterson
Jan Cancila, Host 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.
Today we are speaking with Deborah Peterson. Deborah is a new Chapter Leader for Sew Powerful. And she has an extremely interesting background, and we want to hear all about her background. But we also want to talk about what led her to become a Chapter Leader for Sew Powerful and how that experience has been for her. So welcome, Deborah. How are you today?
Deborah Peterson, Guest 00:45
I am fine. Thank you, Jan. And how about you?
Oh, just doing very well, very well. Where are you right now as we speak to you?
I'm in Lacey, Washington, which is a little suburb of Olympia, Washington, the capital of Washington.
Oh, the capital city. How nice. And you're near an Air Force base and Army base, I understand.
Correct. It's a Joint Base so they're very busy. And a lot of activity tends to go on.
And you warned me that we might actually hear some of the aircraft overhead today, right?
Oh, big booms. I think they're on the ground doing their big cannons and things.
Oh, how interesting. Okay. All right. So right now, you're in Washington State which, for international listeners, is on the far west coast of the United States on the Pacific Ocean, but Olympia is more
In the middle of the state, probably smack dab in the middle.
Well, that that was my recollection, but I wasn't looking at a map. Could you sort of describe when you look out your window, what do you see? What's the topography like there?
Very green, forests. Matter of fact, behind my house and say what I call a mini forest because there's no houses. Washington State is known for its rain, so a lot of rain here. And of course, we're very well known for Mount Rainier, which is a very majestic, gorgeous mountain and once I drive out of my neighborhood, she's right there, smack dab in my face.
Now, where are you from originally?
Well, I moved up here about three years ago from San Diego, California. I lived down there for over 30 some years. It's my most favorite place but all of my family started leaving California, so I was the last one to leave.
The last one to leave. And what brought you to Washington three years ago?
My two younger daughters moved up this way. My second-to-youngest daughter, her husband, and my grandbaby moved up here, probably about five years ago. And then the next three boys were born up here. My youngest got transferred. She's a Vet and she worked for a vet hospital in San Diego, who transferred her to their Portland, Oregon location. And so, she came out here about a year before me and then I finally made the move.
Alright, so the whole family migrated north.
I understand you're recently retired. Tell us about your career, Deborah.
Well, I retired from over 35 years in interventional cardiology. But my main specialty for the last almost 20 years was electrophysiology, which is the study and treatment of heart arrhythmias. So, working very close with the heart.
Wow, I "heart" that, I love that. What an interesting and rewarding career that must have been.
So obviously you sew, because you're a volunteer for Sew Powerful. I think that might be a job requirement. So, Deborah, tell us about when you learned to sew.
Well, it actually started back when I was in school. At that time, we had to be in Home Ec, all the girls; it was a required course. And of course, we were taught sewing. So simple things like skirts and scarves and things like that. Over the course of the years, I just did simple sewing. I would do simple quilts for my children and then eventually for my grandchildren. Simple satchels, purses. I never got very fancy with sewing so, no clothes designing or making like that. But I'm just happy with the simple things that I do and still am able to do it.
So how did you hear about Sew Powerful? Where did that come in?
Well, if I remember correctly, it was a little over a year ago. I think I came across a video that caught my attention. And I belong to a Women's Club, GFWC Capital Women's Club, and at one of our club meetings they talked about Days for Girls. And these was probably products that were being made, reusable washable products for girls in many countries. And so, when I saw that, I went back to the Sew Powerful video that caught my attention and found out more about it, and that these were purses that would house products like that. And I was captivated. The more I learned about the story and the situation over there, that's what captivated me. And so, I've kept an eye on Sew Powerful ever since. I knew that eventually, once I unpacked the rest of my sewing stuff, which was still packed up, that I wanted to make purses myself, and then it just took off from there.
Well, you know, a lot of people that have daughters really find the situation in Zambia resonates with them, trying to imagine what it would be like for their own daughters to have to struggle. Was that the case for you?
Oh, yeah, I had four daughters. And by all means, you know, that definitely strikes a chord. And it makes me think of, you know, what would have happened if my daughters didn't have stuff like that, affected their lives and their going forward as an adult?
Right, yeah. And think about how it must impact girls' education not to be able to reliably plan on going to school all month long.
Well, Deborah, you signed up to be one of our Beta Chapter Leaders. So back in January, we put together a program to establish Chapters, and we had meetings, and honestly, we weren't really making a whole lot of progress, I'll just tell you, because everybody had an opinion about what we should do and we weren't coming to consensus. But we did come to consensus, that maybe we ought to do a survey and find out what everybody else thought. And so, we did the Local Growth Survey and as a result of that, we really got clarity around what the Chapter situation should look like. And one of the questions on the survey was, Would you be willing to lead a group of people in sewing? And you answered,
Yeah. So, when we started putting together Chapters, we did contact the people who had responded in that way, and you were gracious enough to join us on the journey. And it was a Beta, meaning "experimental." And so, we put together some things and so you've been tearing it up ever since. So, let's sort of go step by step. So, we contacted you and said, Would you do this? You said, Yes. Now, what was your thought process when you were invited to do that? Did you have any reservations, or what were you thinking?
No. And in fact, that survey you put together was a brilliant idea because that was extremely helpful. And it really helped in settling any questions I would have had, had not something like that been done first and foremost. I honestly thought that it would be quite easy to do so and to form and groups together to be able to sew but I've learned so much more since then.
Okay, we're gonna get to that. Hold that thought. So, then we put together some materials for Chapter Leaders, which was called a Chapter Formation Starter Kit, and we provided that to our Beta Chapter Leaders. I don't know how recently you've looked at that. But from what you can recall, can you talk a little bit about that, and if that was a handy thing to have, or what suggestions you might give us to improve that going forward?
As far as improving, I really don't see anything else needing; it was not lacking at all. Again, another brilliant idea. It was full of information that I would have ever wanted, nice guidelines, and the materials that you sent to us was extremely helpful. I think it was a perfect way for a starter Chapter Leader to begin working with. I honestly don't think we need to add anything extra in it because it's all there.
Okay, all right. And, you know, one of our objectives was to not overwhelm people with information so we kept it sort of brief but provided links so that you could explore topics of interest to you. Did you find that helpful, in that presentation?
Oh, very helpful. Yeah, yeah.
I like the idea of not having too much because it just gets overwhelming to certain people. But having those links there so that they can pursue it on their own is great. So just like in the Goldilocks story, just perfect.
Yeah. Maybe we'll have to rename them the Goldilocks Clubs
Not too much, not too little, just perfect
instead of Chapters, okay. All right now you're relatively new to the area where you live. I mean, you've lived there three years so I'm sure you know some people, but it's not like it's a lifetime of acquaintances. So how did you find people to join your Chapter?
Well, first because of being a member of the GFWC Capital Women's Club, I spread the information amongst my Club members, and I had a couple of women that wanted to participate. And so, then I thought, alright, where do I go out to next? Well, since I'm still learning the people around my neighborhood, we happen to have two bulletin boards, glass encased bulletin boards, where neighbors can post things. So, I thought, oh, okay, I'm gonna put a flyer into there and see if I can get some neighborhood people involved. So, put it up over there. And then of course, I was on nextdoor.com. I thought, well, let's give this a try. And so, I posted an announcement on nextdoor.com for my community and the surrounding communities, just about maybe 10 miles out in a circular fashion from our area.
Okay, now hold that thought because we're going to take a quick break. And then when we come back, we're going to find out what was the result of all of Deborah's marketing efforts. So, listeners, please stay tuned.
Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original best seller, 4.9 out of five stars, by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use smile.amazon.com, and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.
Welcome back. We have been speaking with Deborah Peterson, who is a Sew Powerful Chapter Leader. And she was just telling us about the marketing efforts that she put forth to locate people who might be interested in joining her, forming Chapters. So just to recap, you did a flyer in your neighborhood bulletin board, you talked to people in your club. And what was the third one?
The third one was placing an announcement in Nextdoor.com.
In Nextdoor.com. Okay, so tell us what happened with all of that.
Well, surprisingly, I got an immense response from Nextdoor.com. And I probably had about 14 respondents that were very much interested in participating in doing this. And I was just so surprised. Well, knowing in my past experience of sending invitations out to people for whatever event or something that I have going on, I know the percentages of actual respondents is going to be much, much lower. But it was a place to start, and it was a place to be able to find out how successful it could be and how many repeats we would have from this group. And so that's where I'm finding that it's a learning experience. And my next goal is to be hitting up a lot of the church groups around here, since many of them do support ministering activities outside of the United States. And I'll bring in more sewers because I know I'm going to need them.
Okay. All right. That's fantastic. Okay, so let's back up a little bit. So, what is the name of your Chapter?
Our name is Lacey~Oly Crafty Sewers.
Crafty Sewers, that's fantastic. And so how many members would you say you have now? It sounds like it's a little bit fluid.
We have actual 16 members, but I have four very active members that are actually sewing and then I have two additional members that are making cards for us.
Okay, well, cool. And so, could you describe a typical meeting? I'm curious, do people bring their sewing machines and make the purses there? Or do they work at home and bring for Show and Tell? How do you have it set up?
Right now, everybody is working from home. I have offered up gathering here and people can bring their sewing machines, some tables, and everybody's still a little iffy about gathering together. Predominantly, we did a lot of Zoom calls, shared a lot of ideas, did Show and Tell on that. And right now, we are going to be doing periodic Zoom calls just to check in with everybody. But we are planning for a gathering, hopefully, by next month.
Wow. And so how many meetings have you had altogether?
We've had about eight, eight meetings, if I remember correctly. Yeah.
And that's since May, right? In a six-week period of time? No, you started earlier, right?
Initially, the Zoom meetings were, like, every week for maybe the first four weeks, and then every other week, and now we're going to be doing them probably every other month.
But then try and gather more often after that.
And have you had any in-person meetings?
Not yet. Okay. All right. And so, the people that have joined you, did they know about Sew Powerful before you put these posts up?
One did, she said she had seen it before, but she never followed up with it. The other ladies, this was their first time of knowing about it. And they were quite taken aback both, for the situation and as far as the sewing of the purses and why that was being done. So, they were quite taken with it.
Well, that's great. And they have the purse pattern, I take it. Now you do have some people who are doing notecards. But have they had any challenges making the purse or or how did they get started?
About the only thing challenge-wise, I just had a whole bunch of persons dropped off the other day. Some are doing the beginner purse, and some are doing the intermediate purse. And probably the only challenge that a couple ladies talked about was turning out the corners and all, but they said they know how they're going to be tackling it the next time around.
Other than that, there really hasn't been anybody who got stuck or had an issue or ran into a problem. I've got right in front of me, right now, a whole bunch of darling purses with such darling patterns and
If they're right there, show me. Let's see what we have. Oh my gosh, that's cute. Oh, very nice. Oh, look at that.
I can see inside. Here's another that was like a tapestry.
Wow. Oh, that's so pretty.
And then one that looks kind of like a watercolor painting.
Oh, it does. It looks like a Monet. Wow. That's beautiful. That is beautiful.
So obviously, and then something that's a little fun, these are doughnuts.
Oh, oh how cute.
Yeah, and a sparkly liner.
Oh, nice. Very nice.
The creativeness is off the chart, let me tell you.
That's that's fantastic. And so, are you going to be the one to gather them and ship them in? Is that your intent?
And then when you do your packing slip are you going to do a packing slip for each of the ladies or are you going to do one for your Chapter? Have you figured that out?
Just one for that, the Chapter The only ones that I will probably do a separate packing slip for will be purses that are made by my Club.
By your club. Okay, very nice.
My Women's Club.
Well, yeah, so this will be exciting when we do the Facebook Live Events the fourth Monday of every month, where we hold them up, and we will be really excited to say this is from the Lacey~Oly Crafty Stitchers Chapter and here's their box. So that will be, that will be something. In fact, I don't know, you don't have to wait till you have a whole lot. You could be the first Chapter box to be sent in and that would be a really cool thing, so.
Yeah, I hope, I hope to have this all ready to take over and drop off by next Monday. I have two other ladies that said they have purses to drop off by this weekend. And then I'll be ready to package these all up and bring them on over.
Oh, you're going to take them in person.
I'm going to take them over to the Quality Sewing and Vac shop that's near me
Since they take them over there and it's
Well let's give them a plug. So if you're in the Washington State, and are they also in Oregon?
I believe so.
I think they are. So if you live near a Quality Sewing and Vac store, you can drop off your Sew Powerful purse there. Now you might have to remind the store manager what you're doing, if if you're the first one to do this, but they have been doing it for a couple of years. And then what happens is their drivers that make deliveries to the various stores will periodically take the purses to their warehouse and then when they get a bunch in their warehouse, they contact Sew Powerful, and their warehouse is in the Seattle area, and somebody from Sew Powerful goes there and picks it up. So, if you're in Washington or Oregon, you can save yourself the cost of postage, and simply drop your purse off at Quality Sewing and Vac. And we're most appreciative of that service that they offer us. So, Deborah, you've been a Sew Powerful Chapter Leader for three or four months now. That makes you a veteran. So, we've had a lot of people express interest in doing this but not everybody has actually taken that next step of registering their Chapter. Registered Chapter Leaders get access to some resources that the general purse-making public doesn't really have, and the idea is to to help you with your Chapter. So, what resources have you found helpful, that you think anybody who might be hesitant, if they knew what you know, might go ahead and take that next step?
Now, maybe perhaps a list of what we have encountered so far for gathering members. What we have encountered that may have stymied anything and offering some other suggestions on how to look for additional participants and so that's probably about the only thing. How do I get the word out? You know, how do I contact anybody? How do I make this known? And like I said, not many people know about Nextdoor.com. But it's going to take creative thinking on knowing your area, knowing where to take things. Quality Sewing and Vac, they took one of my flyers, or Joanns Fabric has one posted there as well. And like I said, probably the next big area to be hitting up is all the churches within the area. Especially there's a lot of crafting people that, you know, sew or do cards, cardmaking. I mean, there's a wealth of people to be working with, you just got to be going out there and getting the information out.
Well, and I have to brag on you. You developed a little flyer that has the tear-offs. And, you know, we see those periodically on bulletin boards, in restaurants, schools, gyms, whatever. But we took yours and fixed it so all you have to do is a search and replace, and you can replace the text on there with your actual email address. I guess you could put your phone number, but probably most people would prefer email address at this point. But just being able to distribute that in your local community where people would see it is a good thing. Especially a lot of places are starting to open up now and people are more out in public than they would have been, say, a year ago.
One other thing, Deborah, that I want to talk about is that we are offering quarterly Zoom meeting for Chapter Leaders. So, no matter where you live in the world, if you're a Chapter Leader, we want to share information and resources with you. And our first one of those is going to be on June 30, in, like, two weeks from now. So, we have them set up every three months. And we skipped the month of December because it sort of falls right on on Christmas, so we moved that one to be in January. But I just think if you're new, if you're thinking about becoming a Chapter Leader, or you're experienced, I think this would just be a good forum for people to exchange tips, ideas, ask questions. What do you think? Do you think people will participate?
I would hope they would participate. I hope they would realize the value of it. I'm all for it, 100%. I think by having periodic meetings to share what has been working, what has not been working and what needs to be changed is very similar to me in the medical field. That's, you know, how we worked on a daily basis, especially with challenging cases and challenging patient needs. So, it, the same would apply to just about anything that a person would want to do.
Well, and so if you are a registered Chapter Leader, on your Resource page you can click on the Quarterly Chapter Leader link and it will give you all the dates, the times and the link to the Zoom meeting. If you've not yet registered, but you're thinking about it, if you'll send me an email at JanC, that's JANC at SewPowerful.org, I will send you the Zoom link for the next meeting so that you could participate if you're considering. So, you know, we want to get the word out. And you know, Deborah has this group of 14 women who have joined her. Only one of whom had ever heard of Sew Powerful before, so from Deborah, 13 more people. And if each of those ladies make 2, 3, 4, 5 purses, I mean, you know that's 100 purses a year more, just by putting up some fliers and being willing to do some administrative things that I don't really think it's too onerous. Deborah, is there a lot of admin that we require of you?
No, not really. Use your resources, use your time and reach out.
Yeah, yeah. So, to me, this is a job that's a little more involved than being a purse maker, but certainly not as involved as being a Regional Coordinator. So, if you're a purse maker and you feel like you want to make an additional contribution but don't feel like you have the time or the inclination to be a Regional Coordinator, this would be a perfect step for you. And we're trying to make it fun. And it's a great way to get to know other like-minded people who want to make a difference for girls and women in Zambia.
Yeah, okay. Well, Deborah, thank you so very much for your time today. And we didn't hear any booms in the background. So, I guess
I think they're taking a pause.
they might be on their lunch break right now. So yeah, so we made it through without that. But thank you very much for your time. It's been a pleasure, as always, to talk to you. And if I don't talk to you before then, I will talk to you on June 30 at our first Quarterly Chapter Leader meeting.
That sounds great. And thank you, too. It was a pleasure to be able to do this. And I'm looking for more people to really, really get themselves involved here.
Fantastic. Well, thank you. Have a great day. We'll talk to you later, Deborah.
You too. Sounds great. Thank you.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.SewPowerful.org. That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.