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Blogging SAS wiki style from JoAnn Matthews

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When I address users, either informally, or formally as a presenter - with a red "Speakers ribbon" displayed proudly on my name badge, I always encourage fellow SAS Users to "get involved at the local group level". I remind SAS Users that SAS Global Forum, (the conference formerly known as SUGI) like NESUG, SESUG, PharmaSUG and other regional, special interest and local User groups, would not exist if it were not for the good will and volunteering efforts of others like myself who donate their time and energy to support the SAS User community.

Case in point: I will never forget the comment of two colleagues of mine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, early in my SAS User Group career. After my first Pittsburgh SAS User group meeting, my spirits were buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of the great people I had just met for the first time at the US Steel facility on the Southside of Pittsburgh. When it was announced that the leaders of the Pittsburgh SAS User Group (PSUG) needed someone to 'help with the newsletter' - I put up my hand and volunteered to "help". Before my dues had been officially paid, my name was on the board and I found myself "nominated" to hold the office of Secretary; it was the responsibility of the Secretary to put together the Pittsburgh SAS User Group newsletter. Well, when I told my two colleagues what had transpired, laughing, to them that I hadn't even paid my dues but found myself 'nominated' - they looked at each other and laughed, and in a mean-spirited way suggested that there is 'One in every crowd'... They didn't mean a hero, they meant a 'sucker'.... Well, guess what? The joke is on them...

Those two women would be very surprised to know how much sheer adventure, personal enjoyment and professional validation I have discovered as a result of volunteering. After taking an HTML course, while Secretary of PSUG, I wrote a paper for the User Support Track at SUGI entitled 'Creating a Home Page on the WWW for Your Local User Group - An Unlimited Resource for Local User Group Recruitment Strategies". The paper was accepted for SUGI 22 in San Diego, and I discovered my "15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame", when I was presented with a plaque for "Best Contributed Paper" by Cindy Garaleck and Judy Loren, the two co-chairs for the Internet, Intranets and the Web section for SUIG 22. It was the largest section ever! Ballrooms had to be opened to accommodate the crowds yearning to learn more about the web. I was subsequently invited to present this award winning paper at a number of regional user groups and two SUGI conferences thereafter. One colleage of mine from the Pittsburgh SAS User Group asked me playfully how much mileage I intended to get from that one paper, and I answered proudly as much as I can!

From a simple raising of a hand to help with the newsletter - came an abundance of professional recognition, opportunities for conference attendance, and great friendships. Thank you Dr. Goodnight for creating an atmosphere of collaboration that preceeds wiki's and web communities. SAS Institute and other users have paved the way for what is now www.sasCommunity.org - a site for enhancing communication between SAS users and between users and user groups!