A Rising Tide: Sally Bookman

Sally is an expert networker and she meets people through her many assorted activities. Whether it’s through directing and acting at Rita’s Theater, playing tennis, selling real estate, singing in a choir, or as a professional painter, Sally loves to make connections with people – and invites many of them to Together Women Rise meetings!

Kia: Sally, your chapter is celebrating its 14th anniversary this year. Congratulations! Have you been with the group since the beginning, or when did you join?

Sally: I started this chapter 14 years ago. I was originally with another chapter, with Cari Class, but Rise was growing so quickly with up to 30 people per month, I offered to start a second chapter. I had been with the organization for about two years prior to that. It’s a great way for new people in town to meet others in the community, and a couple of our members have been with us for a really long time. The closeness has developed over time as well.

Kia: How have you organized your meetings? Do you have any traditions?

Sally: Sometimes we can get as many as 26 people at a meeting, so it’s hard to find people who have enough space to host. When we built our home nine years ago, we thought to make our living room and kitchen large enough to host Rise gatherings. I am always happy to host, but I never present. I make it clear that we are a volunteer organization, and that it’s their responsibility to take turns giving the presentation. We usually have about eight people who rotate through that duty. We start with drinks and socializing, I then welcome new people, recognize any birthdays (they get a crown and are first in line for food), we watch the video and someone presents the grantee. I always take a group photo and every month is a different theme (July was of course red, white, and blue!).

Kia: Why did you decide to take on a leadership role?

Sally: About three years after the organization started, Marsha Wallace (our co-founder) came out to California and I met her. I joined Cari’s chapter and it grew so quickly she couldn’t handle all the people. I stepped up, and then another chapter in our area started soon after. That chapter is quite different, but also great. Some people go to both of our meetings as they like the variety. If they can’t make my meeting one month, they’ll go to the other and vice versa. It’s pretty unique.

Kia: What are some standout memories from your chapter over the years?  

Sally: I’m most proud of our December meetings. Cari and I used to combine our chapters and rented a big hall to accommodate our nearly 90 members. The first one we did was a potluck with raffle baskets. We would collect raffle items starting in July and have a big wrapping party at my house in November to prepare. We would get a lot of gift certificates donated from local businesses. One year we raised over $4,600 for Rise. The last few years, I’ve been hosting a holiday meeting at my house, also with baskets, but on a smaller scale. It’s our tradition.

Kia: What advice do you have to chapters that may be experiencing lower attendance  and are trying to expand?

Sally: I think that the personal touch is the most important thing. It’s how I’ve been successful as a realtor. If someone hasn’t been to a meeting for a while, I call them – just reaching out. I would suggest picking up the phone, say “I haven’t seen you for a while, how are you?” It’s nice to have someone reach out. When someone comes back who has  been gone for a long time, I make sure they feel welcome. People really notice when you care and if you make it personal.

Kia: What has been a challenge for your chapter, and how were you able to overcome it?

Sally: I am not a numbers person, and I don’t think I would be a chapter leader if I had to do the accounting. Another woman in our chapter handles the money for me and deals with the Home Office records. I’m also not tech savvy, so I couldn’t do our chapter newsletter, which another members sends out for me. We keep the newsletter strictly about the next meeting: when it is and the theme. I write the content but it’s brief. One month I said “wear something you haven’t worn for at least 12 months.” Without those people helping, I wouldn’t be here today. I make this a priority because it’s doing good in the world. I also love hosting, being social. I love seeing people happy.

If you are interested in being featured on “A Rising Tide” or have a recommendation for a chapter or chapter leader who should be featured, please email Kia Hunter, our Volunteer Manager, at kia@togetherwomenrise.org.