County groups to hold celebration, lunch May 8
Oklahoma Home and Community Education Week is observed during the first week of May.
Founded in 1935, when the groups were called Home Demonstration clubs, OHCE is a statewide, county-based organization that partners with Oklahoma State University and OSU Extension, with over 3,200 members active in all 77 counties.
One of the purposes of the group is to further “the stability of families.” OHCE groups promote good nutrition, exercise, emotional well-being, anti-bullying, military support, financial well-being, literacy, and leadership development. If these are ways you would like to impact your own community, you are invited to join a local OHCE group. Contact the Okmulgee County Extension Office at 918-756-1958 to find out how.
In Okmulgee County, the longtime groups are Crochet, Dripping Springs, Greenfingers, Josie Franklin, Liberty, Osage Hill, and Prairie Bell. A new group was also started recently for those interested in making cards, scrapbooks, junk journals, décor, ATC (artist trading cards), bookmarks, and a wide variety of other projects.
County OHCE president is Rita Lee. She can be reached at 918-759-9010 or [email protected]
In this issue, one of the longtime groups is featured.
— Prairie Bell FCE History, Part 1 Dona Dillsaver, Member
In July of 1947, a group of women met with Home Demonstration Agent Evelyn Nantz, to organize the Prairie Bell Home Demonstration Club. Charter members were Ruth Pangburn, Harryette Clymore, Lorene Wyck- off, Louise Collins, Mertie Dillsaver, Louise Boss, Beula Agee and Lillian Steveson.
Some of their early projects included planting shrubs and flowers around the Prairie Bell school; cleaning the Little Cussetah Cemetery by clearing brush, mowing and painting the fence post; serving lunch at the Stewart Martin Farm Hereford sale; having all day quilting parties; helping 4-H students with demonstrations, recreation activities and clothing projects; and sewing refreshments at the area annual REA meetings.
In October of 1955, the old Prairie Bell School burned. A new school was built in 1956 and school was held in the new building for one year. In 1957, Prairie Bell School was consolidated with the Morris Schools. At that time, care of the building was given to the Prairie Bell Home Demonstration Club.
During the following years, the club held regular monthly meetings with one of the women presenting the lesson for that month. They continued to care for the school building and the grounds by having “clean-up days” to keep the place looking nice. They served as hostesses at community gettogethers, for special holidays and special anniversaries. The members participated in the Okmulgee County Fair by entering individual exhibits as well as preparing a club booth and volunteering to work where needed. Several of the members held offices on the County Council and some attended a special summer conference held in Stillwater each August.
In 1968 or 1969, the club became inactive as a Home Demonstration club, however, they did continue to meet as a social club.
In October 1976, a few of the original members and some new women in the community began meeting again. Reba Wooley, Okmulgee County Extension Home Economist, helped the group to re-organize as the Prairie Bell Extension Homemakers Club. Members from the original club were: Lillie Albright, Louise Boss, Alma Clymore, Harryette Clymore, Louise Collins, Mary Daniels, Mertie Dillsaver, Mae Griffin and Marie Landgraf. New members included Sharon Brannon, Onita Burns, Geneve Cline, Karen Collins, and Mildred Nichols.
One of the first projects of the newly organized group was to improve the Prairie Bell School building which has become a community building. To raise the money needed for the improvements, they had a community pie supper and sen/ed lunch at the Alma Clymore estate auction. With the money they raised they had a new roof put on, added new ceiling tiles, put up new drapes, painted the building and cleaned the yard. Later projects were an annual community dinner, quilting parties, donating cookies for a blood drive, book exchanges to encourage reading, made donations to help buy concrete blocks and donated to help the Oklahoma School for Retarded and Handicapped citizens.
Several of the members worked all of the elections held in the community building and also volunteered their services as “Pink Ladies” at the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital.
The club members were very proud of an American flag given to them by Congressman Mike Synar. lt had once flown over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
In the 1980s, the club was actively involved in helping the Okmulgee County Council with the Rural Road ID Project. The effort of this project called for each rural road intersection to be labeled, similar to street markers, but using numbers already assigned by the Oklahoma Highway Department and would be a convenience for all who used the rural roads.
Also in the 1980s, the club took on a continuing project as part of the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital Auxiliary to make “Pinkie” a puppet to be given to children in the hospital as a gift. Many of the club members were still working as volunteers for the hospital.
Projects of the club during this time were; monthly holiday parties for the residents of Leisure Manor Nursing Home; making “Pinkie” puppets; dressing Salvation Army Christmas dolls; bazaar/bake/ rummage fundraisers for the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital Dialysis machine; taking jelly to the Youth Shelter and making lap robes for nursing home patients. Two other fundraisers were catering a dinner for the Soil Conservation Society of America at the REA building and selling Creative Circle.
Once again, along with changing times comes the changing of the name of the group. In 1992, the name was changed from the Association of Extension Homemakers to the Association for Family and Community Education or FCE. The mission of the group is to strengthen individuals, families, and communities through education, leadership, development and action.
Some of the activities of the Prairie Bell FCE group for the 1990’s were; to continue to take part in the Okmulgee County Fair as individual exhibitors as well as having a club booth and volunteering to work both as hostesses and in the concession stand; to provide scholarship money for an outstanding student in Family and Community Science class each year; to provide money to assist the Family and Consumer Science teacher to purchase supplies for her classroom; to provide scholarship money for other outstanding students; to work as volunteers with the car seat loaner program; to provide teddy bears for the Morris Police Department to give to children in need of comfort; to make book bags with materials for a new mother and a children’s book to be given to each mother and baby when they leave the hospital and to sponsor a Craft Bazaar each year in the Morris gym on the second Saturday in the month of November.
As the 2000 century began, the Prairie Bell Club continued to grow and participated in all activities of the county OHCE organization.
In 2010, the county OHCE held their annual Taste-and-Tell Luncheon. Since its beginning, Prairie Bell Club has set up, decorated and helped to prepare food for the Taste-and-Tell event. The money raised from this luncheon was used to help support 4-H activities and other county projects.
The Prairie Bell Club had several members to serve as county officers. Club members participate in county dinner meetings held three times a year. One of the fun activities at the county meetings is a table decorating contest. Each club enjoys coming up with a fun decoration for their table.
Prairie Bell members have enjoyed entertaining other clubs in the county each year. It is nice to become personally acquainted with other county OHCE members. We have also delighted in being entertained by other clubs with both fun activities and good food.
In 2009, the Prairie Bell club members made a quilt which was raffled off as a fundraiser. The money raised from this project was donated to the Backpack Food Program at the Morris schools.
Since July 1947, many honors have been given to our members, but most importantly many enjoyable hours have been devoted by the members to help others. We all feel the new friends we have made and the lifelong friendships we will have make all of it more than worth the few hours given.
These were the 2010 members: Louvene Brooks, Terra Cecil, Brenda Edmonds, Ruth Edmonds, Laura Embrey, Brenda Gann, Clara Grundman, Carole Hardgrave, Ruth Landgraf, Tommie (Willis) McGowin, Karen Morris, Valerie Naumann, April Reeves, Barbara Sipple, Suzanne Tardiff, Bettie Waters, Jenny Woods and Dona Dillsaver, daughter of original charter member Mertie Dillsaver.
-See part 2 in the next edition of the Okmulgee Times.
Monday, May 8, the Okmulgee County Home and Communication will celebrate OHCE Week and the public is invited to come celebrate with them. The groups have planned Demonstrations, Arts and Crafts, Rada Knives and plants from Wild Child Plants from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. just to name a few. They are also hosting a Bean Lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Menu includes beans, corn bread, fry bread, dessert and drinks. Adults $6, Children 6 and under $3. Join the OHCE for lots of fun at the Okmulgee County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall.