Once-secret society continues to support education for women

MEEKER | Visit the Fairfield Center this Friday and Saturday and enjoy an incredible display of handmade quilts, some old and some new, as well as a bake sale. The suggested $2 donation at the door goes toward a good cause, as does the cost of a raffle ticket for the opportunity to win a quilt. The annual quilt show is a fundraiser for the PEO, or Philanthropic Educational Organization, as it is now known.
PEO was originally founded as the second sorority in the U.S. by seven women at Iowa Wesleyan College in 1869. The meaning of the original acronym is known only to members, and for years—until the 2000s—the society was kept largely secret. Admission to the organization is still by invitation only. There are almost 6,000 local chapters with more than 225,000 members in the United States and Canada today.
PEO members have been supporting women’s education for almost 150 years through multiple scholarships and through Cottey College in Missouri, the only nonsectarian college in the United States owned and supported by women for women.
The Meeker PEO chapter is Chapter BA.
“Chapter letters are given in order as they are organized by state,” said Meeker PEO chapter president Stephanie Oldland. “Colorado is one of the largest states in the international organization. Colorado just organized chapter JM.”
The chapter’s other current fundraiser is a corn hole toss at the Mountain Valley Bank Fall Festival.
“Over the years we have parked cars at the Fourth of July concert, picked up trash on Piceance Creek (oil company sponsored), sold pie cherries and provided security at the fair, just to name a few,” Oldland said via email. “The money all goes to support educational opportunities for women.”
Every year the local chapter hosts a party for senior girls and gives a monetary award to the young lady with the highest grade-point average in English and one to the female graduate with the highest grade-point average in math and science. The chapter also awards a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior girl entering a vocational program.
“We are always looking for women who are in a commitment to education for women and who would be willing to devote their time,” Oldland said.
The “Quilts in the Country” exhibit will be at the Fairfield Center (200 Main St.) in Meeker on Friday, Sept. 7 from 12-5:30 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

By Niki Turner | niki@theheraldtimes.com