Local chapter of P.E.O. celebrates a century of scholarships and support for women
On May 1, 1917, seven ladies of Glenwood Springs — Mrs. Alice Frank, Mrs. Maud Riddle, Mrs. Winona Thorson, Mrs. Aura Smiley Kaiser, Mrs. Gretchen Cross, Miss Clara Nobel and Mrs. Mary Drake — signed the Constitution as charter members of Chapter A.O. P.E.O. They dedicated themselves to the mission of P.E.O.
As it’s written today, “P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women, educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.”
This year, Chapter A.O. P.E.O. has celebrated 100 years of fidelity to helping woman achieve their dreams, making our community a better place and fostering friendships between women that creates the power to do wonderful things.
The chapter is honored to have two 50-year members, Janet Howsam and Louise Jackson, and more than 40 active members in the chapter. Over the years, the chapter has been honored to have at least one member served in a state office position and other serving on state committees. It’s met once or twice a month for the last 100 years.
Chapter A.O. has given faithfully to the International Chapter of P.E.O. and State Chapter for scholarships that are awarded on the national and state level. Fundraising has been important to support P.E.O.’s charitable endeavors and has taken many forms including cookie exchanges and selling brooms.
Records reveal that, in the early years, Chapter A.O. purchased war bonds in both World War I and World War II, helped the Red Cross, assisted in the establishment of the Glenwood City Library, helped the U.S.O., and donated to cancer charities, among others.
More recently the focus has been on fundraising to support organizations who fit P.E.O.’s causes here in our valley and on giving local book scholarships most notably through the Annual P.E.O. Elegant Auction.
The Chapter A.O. P.E.O. Elegant Auction reached its own milestone this year as it celebrated its 25th year. The auction features mostly homemade goods or services made and provided by the ladies of the chapter. It has helped to fund more than 70 book scholarships to local woman moving on to pursue higher education. Additionally, more than $100,000 has been distributed to local organizations over the last 25 years to support our community.
Chapter A.O. is excited to continue their tradition of service with this year’s auction and many to come. The 25th Annual Elegant Auction took place Dec. 1 at the Hotel Colorado. More than 170 women attended and it was a beautiful kick-off to the holiday season.
As Chapter A.O. P.E.O. looks back over the last 100 years, its members are blessed by the friendships that have been forged, but proud of the impact that this group of ladies has made. The women change over the years but the values are the same. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
It is beyond the money that has been given and more importantly the lives that have been touched and the women that feel supported and believed in. That is what truly makes the difference.