Full circle

Martha Deitrich and her family have regularly used mail to stay in touch for more than 60 years.

They exchange letters using the “family circle” method.

“When you get a letter, you read it, then write a new one to send to the next person,” said Deitrich, a Bellefonte, PA, resident. “We try to not keep them so long. One cycle takes a few months.”

The tradition began around 1955 when Deitrich’s mother mailed a letter to her oldest daughter, who then wrote a letter to her sister.

“There was a family of nine children and she wanted to keep us together,” said Deitrich. “It was expensive to call everybody all the time.”

After Deitrich’s mother died, her father stepped in to take his wife’s place so the circle could continue.

As the years passed, two of Deitrich’s sisters died and others began to write for them.

Each cycle starts with one of Deitrich’s nieces, who lives in Pennsylvania and sends a letter to one of Deitrich’s sisters, who also resides in the state.

Another sister who lives in Ohio receives a letter next, then she sends one to a sister in Pennsylvania.

Next to get a letter is a brother in Pennsylvania, who sends one to another brother in the state.

Deitrich and her husband, Carl, are the last to get a letter each cycle.

The letters provide updates on family life, things happening in their respective communities, the weather, politics and gardening.

“Each of us has a garden and loves flowers,” said Deitrich.

She estimates her family has exchanged more than 2,400 letters.

Deitrich’s sister, Naomi Keiper, who lives in Winfield, PA, said she began participating because she didn’t want to miss out on what each family member was experiencing.

“This started before all the modern technology was available,” she said. “It was and is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with each other.”

Lois Shank, Deitrich’s niece, said she looks forward to receiving her family circle letter.

“It’s one connection I have to my deceased mother and her family,” she said.

Deitrich, who, at 87, is the oldest living sibling, said these days the letters serve as a way to update each other on their health.

“We’re all up in years now,” she said.

Deitrich continues to get surprises when she receives her letters.

“One of my niece’s daughters lives in Germany. I found out she and her husband had a baby,” she said.

Care to share?

Melissa Valone knows a good opportunity when she sees one.

Valone, a retail associate at the Brookville, PA, Post Office, recently served a local tourism official who mentioned his organization was looking to beef up its marketing efforts.

She figured the Postal Service could help the bureau achieve its goal, so she submitted a sales lead through Clerks Care, one of the USPS employee lead generation programs.

A postal business development specialist then contacted the bureau, whose leaders decided to use Priority Mail to promote local tourist attractions — a sale expected to generate $97,000 in new estimated annualized revenue for USPS.

“It was really simple,” Valone said. “They were looking for a solution and I just let them know that we might be able to help them.”

Valone is one of many employees across the nation who are participating in Race for a $Billion, a campaign to raise $1 billion in estimated annualized revenue through sales leads from the postal workforce.

Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC, said the organization wants other employees to follow Valone’s example.

“She did her part. She went the extra mile and took down the customer’s information and submitted a lead card to her supervisor,” Anderson said.

In addition to Clerks Care, the Postal Service offers several other programs for employees to submit leads, including Customer Connect (for letter carriers), Mail Handlers (for mail handlers), Rural Reach (for rural carriers) and Submit a Lead (for everyone else, including Executive and Administrative Schedule employees).

The Sales Blue page has more information about each program, as well as an updated ranking of all USPS districts in the Race for a $Billion campaign.

Anderson said she hopes every employee will submit a lead before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

“Speaking to a customer is great for our business, but don’t be afraid to ask for their business,” she said. “Taking the time to get their information and submitting the lead card can mean the difference in generating new revenue or the customer just thinking about the conversation.”

Work smartly

The Postal Service wants employees to take precautions to avoid frostbite, hypothermia and other winter health hazards.

Here’s what you should know:

• Frostbite is dangerous. Frostbite, damage to body tissue, creates a loss of feeling or pale appearance in the extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. Symptoms can include aching, throbbing and even blisters.

• Hypothermia is dangerous, too. Hypothermia, which occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced, can be deadly if you don’t catch it in time. Signs include memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.

• Get help if needed. If you experience symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 immediately and notify your supervisor.

• Layer up. The best way to dress for winter is in layers, which provide insulation and help retain body heat. Avoid pure cotton, linen or similar materials because they retain moisture and can cause you to become colder.

The Resources for Safety and Health website has additional on-the-job tips, including a Safety Depends on Me video on avoiding frostbite.

News Briefs

Engagement award

Superior achievement. Rachel Ivory, a Pacific Area engagement ambassador, recently received a Superior Achievement Award from her fellow ambassadors.

The ambassadors are a team of 20 employees who are divided among the Postal Service’s seven areas and Washington, DC, headquarters. Each ambassador travels throughout his or her assigned territory, conducting classes for managers and supervisors.

Ivory was recognized for her efforts to make the program a success.

“Not only has she created a model training and coaching environment here in Pacific Area, but her work has directly resulted in increased levels of engagement throughout the nation,” said Pacific Area Vice President Larry Munoz.

Pacific specifics. Speaking of Pacific Area: The Postal Service recently mailed Pacific Area Update’s latest issue to employees in California and Hawaii, the states in the area.

The newsletter, which is available on Blue and LiteBlue, features articles about wildfires and power outages, on-the-job instructors, dog bite prevention and other topics.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.