Extension Homemakers celebrate rich Anderson County history

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By Joan Martin

The 75th Anniversary of the Anderson County Extension Homemakers was celebrated this week.  Usually this column is focused on research based education.  I’m not sure there can be any more evidence that community education is successful than looking at the accomplishments of the Extension Homemakers.  I’m very proud of their ability to sustain their intellectual interest and the practical application of so many lessons which they have had over the last 75 years.  
We have at least three Extension Homemakers who have been members for over 60 years.  It is remarkable that anyone would sustain an interest in a club for so many years.  It is also evidence of its meaning in their lives.  Eunice Searcy, Bessie Cook and Dorothy Cox are all certified “Living Legends” in Extension Homemakers.
The first Homemaker Clubs were Royalty, Alton, Hughes, Western, Stringtown, Southwestern, Southeastern and Fox Creek.  Two of those clubs are still in existence – Alton and Fox Creek.  
At least 23 clubs were organized throughout the county.  Many of your grandmothers and mothers were members.
Extension Homemakers made cotton mattresses for their own families and to give to those in need.  The mattresses were made in the Shouse building next to the old opera house.  Fifty pounds of cotton was used for each mattress.  
At the building there was a fluffing machine to fluff the cotton and tufting frames and tables where the mattresses were beaten, filled and the edges rolled.
During World War II, Extension Homemakers met to roll miles of bandages, gave blood and solicited memberships for the Red Cross.  After the war, they collected food, clothing and other necessities to aid in the rehabilitation efforts of devastated countries.  Extension Homemakers were told to produce more on the farm, increase egg production 6 percent, the supply of baby chicks by 15 percent, and dairy products by 8 percent.  The women were told that there was no limit to the supply of tomatoes that could be used.
Later the Homemakers learned banking skills.  Today this may seem a bit odd but a cash society had existed for years.  Today this is the equivalent of learning to bank online.
 Who would have thought that our local churches would be receiving tithes via on-line banking?  We have all had to learn new practices as the world changes.
Extension Homemakers are ever learning and ever contributing to their community.  They are a rock of stability in the ocean of family chaos and troubling community issues.  They are leaders because they have learned skills in their club meetings and community projects.  
In 1947 Mrs. Russ Bond said, “My club has meant more to me than words can express.  Of course I have enjoyed the social part of it and I also been greatly benefitted by the projects but the thing that has meant more to me than any other is to be able to get up before the club members and give a lesson.  A thing that almost paralyzed me the first time I tried it.”
Most likely your family has been touched by an Extension Homemaker sometime in the last 75 years.  
Please tell them thank you and support their continued efforts to make Anderson County an even better place to live and raise a family.
The current Extension Homemaker Council officers are Joyce Cox, Glenna Smith, Peggy Franklin and Mary Jane Briscoe.  Club presidents are Lois Tinsley, Alexis Hunter, Kay Scheffler, Louketa Woods, Donna Speray, Cindy O’Dell and Glenda Zopff.
Additional information about Extension Homemaker Clubs may be obtained from the leaders above or the Anderson County Extension Office.
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.  University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Kentucky Counties, Cooperating.  Disabilities accommodated with prior notification.

Joan Martin is a consumer and family sciences agent with the Anderson Extension office.