By: Julie Alexander | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: April 2016
(L to R): Yvonne Dulaney, Mary Ellen Kingdom and Kathy Erwin invite you to OHCE’s annual Friendship Day.
At 90 years young, Mary Ellen Kingdom is an active community volunteer for several local organizations. But she always makes time for knitting, her favorite hobby. She will pass along her knowledge during a class on May 2 at the OSU Extension Center.
Friendship Day is held annually by Oklahoma Home Community Education. The one-day event includes classes in basket weaving and knitting, and there will be information booths set up for those interested in joining OHCE. Membership dues are $23 per year.
Last year’s Friendship Day was a huge success, and Membership Chair Kathy Erwin is hoping to attract even more participants this year. A member of the group for 33 years, Erwin’s involvement began when she was a small child. “My grandmother used to take me to her meetings, when they were called home demonstrations meetings,” she said, adding the groups were later called home extension clubs.
Founded in 1935, the OHCE is a group dedicated to strengthening families through education and community service. But the group’s roots date back to the late 19th century.
Life was tough in the 1890s, and women depended on each other for advice and help keeping their families intact. They formed different clubs to share information about growing vegetables, canning, sewing and other household necessities. As the number of women involved grew, their importance was recognized by the US Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension Service was formed in the1930s.
As membership in these groups grew, so did the quality of life for many families, especially the children. The main areas of concern were nutrition, disease diagnosis, child development and other issues of the day that were considered life threatening. The main objective was the health and happiness of the American family. And more than a century later, the goals of the OHCE remain very much the same, said Erwin.
Kingdom, who will teach a knitting class on Friendship Day, said the OHCE has become an integral part of the community by helping local non-profits. The Tulsa area has seven different groups, each meeting once a month in various locations and each taking a local charity under its wings. Kingdom’s group, the Candleliters, contributes to Happy Hands, a school for hearing impaired children 6 and younger.
“Every meeting we bring toilet paper, paper towels, computer paper and stamps and we deliver them to the school,” she said. “One year I sewed costumes for their Christmas play. Other clubs do different things for other groups.”
Other area non-profits that receive help from OHCE include the Tulsa MS Walk, Quilts of Valor, the Jenks Food Bank and the Tulsa County Emergency Shelter. They also provide scholarships to area students.
With more than 86 members in the Tulsa area, the individual groups meet monthly and present programs on a variety of topics, including meal planning and preparation, estates and wills, and more. The OHCE is one of the main sponsors of the Tulsa County Free Fair, held each July at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Exchange Center. Held in conjunction with area 4H clubs, participants compete in more than 100 categories including baking, canning, sewing, quilting, horticulture, and photography. It’s free and open to the public.
The deadline to register for the Friendship Day classes is April 15. The day includes two four-hour classes. Participants can choose from knitting or basket weaving. Class size is limited. The event is from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, May 2 at the OSU Extension Center, 4116 E. 15th St. in Tulsa. The cost is $10 per person and includes class supplies and lunch. To register, send a check payable to OHCE-TC with your class preference written in the memo line to OHCE-TC, 4312 East 67th Street, #565, Tulsa, OK, 74136.
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