Ely chapter celebrates 150 years of P.E.O.

On January 21 this year, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) celebrated the 150th birthday of International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood.
Chapter FD in Ely joined the other 230,000 current members of P.E.O. from nearly 6,000 chapters across the United States and Canada in celebrating this historic milestone.
Chapter FD has been a part of the Ely community since it was organized in 1995.
Among its yearly events is a booth at the Harvest Moon Festival with proceeds going directly to support women’s education. In 2018, their year of sponsorship totaled $16,250. This was for one PCE (Project for Continuing Education) grant, one ELF (Educational Loan Foundation) award, one local $750 Ely Memorial High School Scholarship and one National Star Scholar Award for $2500.
Their record since 1995 is even more impressive and includes 20 PCE recipients totaling $30,800, 6 ELF recipients totaling $52,200, 1 graduate school Scholar award of $15,000, 3 successful STAR recipients for a total of $7500 and 25 local scholarships reaching $10,550. The grand total thus far is $120,575.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary, Ely members will fill a display case in the Ely Public Library in July showcasing this chapter and its efforts. A reception honoring all 55 past recipients of their educational grants, loans and scholarships is planned for Saturday, August 3, 2019 at the Grand Ely Lodge.
Since its inception in 1869, the nonprofit organization has helped more than 105,000 women pursue their educational goals by providing more than $321 million in grants, scholarships, awards and loans and supporting Cottey College.
Through membership, the P.E.O. Sisterhood has brought together nearly half a million women in the United States and Canada who are passionate about helping women advance through education, while supporting and motivating them. In addition to the educational philanthropies, the P.E.O. Sisterhood provides a framework of support and community for all members.
Brenda Olson of Ely, a 2018 recipient of both an ELF loan and a PCE grant, returned to school for two years for her teaching certificate and has just been hired as an Ely 6th grade teacher starting September 2019.
Brenda mentions Eleanor Roosevelt as a woman she might call a “hero” and an inspiration to her as she persevered through difficulties and went on to fight injustice and bless others.
One of Eleanor’s quotes “Do one thing every day that scares you” was a reminder throughout her own schooling that it was OK to be afraid as long as she persevered.
Brenda believes women encouraging women is one of the strongest interpersonal forces in this world. She says “the encouragement and support I received from many people in this community, but especially from P.E.O. women kept me persevering, increased my confidence, and put a smile on my face.”
What started with a bond of friendship among seven young women in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, is now one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America.
“The P.E.O. members in Ely stand on the shoulders of generations of P.E.O. sisters who came before us,” says Pat Bieber, President of Chapter FD.
“They were dedicated to the mission of women supporting women, just as we are today. And it is a cause that will continue to be relevant for the next 150 years.”
To learn about P.E.O. and its powerful educational philanthropies and stories of women who have benefitted from the programs, visit peointernational.org.