By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
Knee pads and garden gloves were the order of the day recently when members of the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association spruced up the IEHA Memorial Garden at Beulah Park in Alexandria.
The chipper crew came armed with potted flowers, mulch, water and tools. They made short work of cleaning up the garden, weeding it, placing new blossoming plants and watering them. The garden, located at the corner of Parkway Drive and 4th Street in Beulah Park, was established in 1991 to honor members who have passed away.
The group cheerfully set about their work after a May 1 luncheon business meeting where about 35 current and past presidents of various IEHA clubs in Madison County pitched in to enjoy an array of salad, sandwiches and casseroles.
Madison County embraces 27 IEHA clubs with a total of about 300 members. Each club may have about 6 to 15 members.
“Strengthening the home and family — that’s our main focus,” said Robin Williams, Health and Human Sciences Purdue Extension Educator.
“Everybody thinks we just do cooking and sewing,” said Sharon Dailey, president of the Sparklers club. As if cooking and sewing are not enough, Dailey pointed out the clubs today have much broader focus.
Delilah Swinford, president of the Moonsville Club, said that the clubs learn about life experience. Topics may include diverse subjects like relationships, grandparenting, nutrition, financial resource management, human development and health. Swinford recalled a recent lesson during which the club learned about identity theft.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Swinford. She admits that at the same time, “We have a lot of fun.”
Eyes light up as members look forward to the annual 4H Fair, this year July 21 to 27. On Tuesday evening during fair week, IEHA members whip up their tempting best for their home baked products event.
At one time, the county’s IEHA membership swelled to about 900 members.
“There are so many women working now, and they don’t think they have time for themselves,” said Michale Clark, president of the Frankton Home Builders.
It’s clear, however, the current leadership sees the organization as more relevant than ever – ready to equip today’s homemakers with information and tools. At the same time, members clearly revel in their fellowship and they are prepared to welcome new members.
While the statewide organization is keeping up to speed with the times, it is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Members from the state’s 92 counties will mark the centennial milestone at the IEHA Home and Family Conference this June at Purdue University. Madison County will have a historical display including a heritage doll, glass designs and kitchen tools. It will be among displays coming from every corner of the state to celebrate 100 years of IEHA,
Persons interested in finding a Madison County IEHA club to join should contact the county’s membership chair, Linda Gatewood, at (765) 623-2707.