By: Jim Butcher | Category: Education | Issue: April 2015
(L to R): Mary Ellen Kingdom, Yvonne Dulaney and Kathy Erwin urge members and nonmembers to attend Friendship Day to meet new friends and learn about the OHCE, which has been here since 1935. Yvonne will be leading the group in basket weaving.
Attention, women of Tulsa County! What are you doing for the rest of your life? Do you want to learn new skills? Make lifelong friends? How about lending a hand to help others? Oklahoma Home & Community Education (OHCE) is seeking new blood, and in return will provide you with opportunities in these areas.
Before making a commitment to change your life for the better, perhaps you need more information and an introduction to the county group, which is located in all 77 counties. This introduction can be found at “Friendship Day” set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, May 4 at the OSU Extension Center, 4116 E. 15th St., on the north side of the Tulsa State Fair Grounds.
According to Kathy Erwin, chair of the membership committee, Friendship Day provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the organization at the OHCE Week Celebration.
“Following lunch, you and your friends will have the opportunity to learn more about OHCE at our Committee Fair,” she explained. Basket weaving instructor Yvonne Dulaney will instruct the group on making a woven May Day basket. Cost for the day is $12, including lunch and the basket workshop. Reservations must be made by April 15.
You may be wondering, exactly what is Oklahoma Home & Community Education? Longtime member Mary Ellen Kingdom explained that the organization is about building better communities by working together through leadership and service. “Another key component is providing continuing education from the OSU Extension Service on matters affecting the individual, home, family and community,” she said. “It’s been proven that by working together, we can achieve more.”
The Oklahoma Home & Community Education organization was formally created in 1935, but organizations known as “farm women’s clubs” existed as early as 1910 in Oklahoma. Gradually acquiring the name “home demonstration clubs,” these groups flourished and multiplied in the state after Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act on May 8, 1914. Their mission was to distribute educational information on agriculture and home economics to individuals who did not attend college.
In 1914, Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) organized the college’s program to train women home demonstration agents. After their training, they traveled by train, horse and buggy, or automobile to rural Oklahoma to promote home economy. They informed women on gardening practices, raising poultry, the use of the pressure cooker to preserve meats, fruits, and vegetables, preparation of nutritious meals, sewing clothing, and household sanitation. That same program still exists today, but with a variety of changes.
Both Kathy and Mary Ellen emphasized that you do not have to reside in Tulsa County to belong to the group. They also outlined what the county group is involved with: 1) Family Issues – Support the Tulsa County Shelter by making bags and pajamas and donating hugs, books and stuffed toys; 2) Tulsa County Free Fair – Organize and manage the Open Class exhibits and special events; 3) Promotional Sales – Hold annual fundraiser for the OHCE organization as well as the Scholarship Program presented to an OHCE member or family member; 4) Membership – Organize activities and workshops to promote and maintain OHCE members; 5) Cultural Enrichment – Promote cultural and historical events; 6) Holiday Luncheon – A time for recognition, fun and fellowship; and 7) Resource Management – Identify and encourage reducing, reusing and reinventing items.
Why join, Kathy asks? You will have opportunities to share information and teach skills to others, support local charitable organizations, take interesting educational tours, build lifelong friendships, have college scholarships available to members and family, support and participate in the Tulsa County Free Fair (July 28-August 1 at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds Exchange Center), be part of a statewide organization, and definitely have fun.
Kathy said if you are interested in joining the organization, please call the Tulsa County OSU Extension Center at (918) 746-3706 to find a local group near you. Have them send you a membership form and pay the annual dues of $23 a year, and then participate in OHCE activities.
For more information, contact
Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.