Siouxland Stories: Saying thank you, one card at a time

Siouxland Stories

(KCAU) — Valentine’s Day is a big deal for a lot of people. In fact, local members of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international society for women educators, are using the entire month to celebrate 50 years of membership for two members.

“Dear Lily Mae. Congratulations on your 50 years of DKG membership,” says Jill Brown.

It’s a milestone for Lily Mae Ronfeldt and Rima Hartman. They are both members of Delta Kappa Gamma for more than half their life.

“We taught many years together.  We came in at the same time and one of the 5th-grade teachers put our names in,” says Hartman.

 A half-century of service in this professional women’s organization for educators usually is celebrated with lunch and a program.

“Women like Rima and Lily Mae have done it and they inspire others to do the same,” says Jill Brown.

But just like a teacher’s lesson plan, this celebration was altered by the pandemic.

“We knew we needed to do something special,” added Brown. “One of our members came up with the idea of let’s shower them with 50 cards in 50 days. One card a day to celebrate 50 years.  It was a marvelous idea,” added Brown.

And so, it began. Stroke by stroke, word by word, heartfelt messages filling dozens of cards.

“Rima is always there and is always wanting us to succeed and do our best and is there with a smile and shows us that we can,” said Kayla Ruhland

“A way of saying thank you when they’re not able to attend as many meetings as they’d like to these days and yet we have not forgotten and it’s a way of saying we appreciate what you’ve done over the years,” said Carolyn Rants.

“This collective wisdom that everyone brings to the table is so important so someone who is new to their profession.  If I can do just a little of what these women have done, I’ll feel proud,” said Jill Brown.

The Sioux City Chapter of D.K.G. dates back to 1944 when 14 founding members would gather at the Martin Ball Room. Today, 40 educators are part of the organization.

“We have music teachers we have special education teachers, technology, retired teachers, principals.  You name it we have it in the organization,” said Ruhland.

But about those cards.

“I didn’t know what to think,” said Rima Hartman. “I didn’t give the other 50-year members that much attention. I felt a little guilty getting all the cards.”

Her fellow members say there’s no need for that.

“It was fun to be able to write. I like getting cards and I think others like cards,” said Rants.

A lost art of sorts, but this time, over the days, the cards were stacking up.

“My husband walks across the street to get the mail I don’t. He said “Ya got more cards?” said Hartman.

“Some of them talked about things I don’t remember happening, But I must have made them feel OK,” said Hartman.

The words of so many now returning the good deed.

“If I’m having a lousy day with pain, I’ll take them out and read them again. And you can do them again and again. It’s not just one time and done,” she said.

Appreciation is one thing but seeing it in writing is something all on its own.

“It gives you a good feeling, it gives you a good feel,” says Hartman.

And giving, after all, is what Delta Kappa Gamma is all about.

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