Photo: Luncheon attendees brought antiques and heirlooms, hoping Bob Scott would provide valuable insight on their piece. Photo by Casey Malon
Last Saturday, I attended a luncheon hosted by PEO Chapter IE at the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash. Members of both local PEO Chapters (IE and IX) mixed with members of the community who’d been invited by Table hostesses. Admittedly, aside from knowing that PEO made and sold crafts, accessories and jewelry to raise funds for educational scholarships, I knew little else about the organization. It didn’t take long for me to learn that every person at the event was only too happy to tell me about PEO.
The Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) was founded in 1869 by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Formed with an enthusiasm for women’s opportunities, the ‘sisterhood’ soon expanded to include women off campus and has grown to over 225,000 members in chapters across the U.S. and Canada.
In Grand County, there are two chapters: IE, which was founded in 1991, has 54 members and meets regularly in Grand Lake. Due to the membership growth of IE, “IX spun off as a second chapter, in 2006, with another 40 members who meet at each other’s homes across the county”, said PEO Sister, Dede Fay.
After everyone had enjoyed lunch, local antique aficionado, Bob Scott, began working his way through heirlooms and antiques those in attendance had brought in hopes of his review and insight “Antiques Road Show” style. Each item Bob selected added $20 to the chapter’s scholarship fund, and Bob made his way through about 25 interesting items. Amazingly, he knew something about every object that passed through his hands and his charming, thorough presentation was pure ‘Bob Scott’. Scott’s Grand Lake shop is currently celebrating 50 years of operation. “He was a big hit”, said PEO Sister, Karen Sommerfeld.
All donations received at the luncheon are applied 100% toward future scholarship awards. In addition to supporting six other national educational projects, Chapter IE has given $18,645 in local scholarships through its own “Chapter IE Colorado Fund” since 2012. This year, Chapter IE split their scholarship money between 7 deserving recipients comprised of 2 seeking degrees in their next level of education as teachers; 2 nurses enrolled in “RN to BSN” programs; 2 nurses seeking master’s degrees in nursing; and, 1 seeking certification as an EMT. Typically, only 1 to 3 applicants are awarded.
Since 2006, Chapter IX has awarded 21 Program for Continuing Education scholarships totaling $32,250 (for women who are returning to school after at least a 2-year break); 2 STAR scholarships totaling $5000 (for high school seniors); 5 Educational Loan Funds totaling $58,000 (very low interest educational loans); and, 36 IX Scholarships (similar to the IE Colorado Fund) totaling $29,750.
According to PEO Sister, Beth Chambers, “Selection of recipients is based on both a written application including an essay, and a face-to-face interview. There are 9 scored sections indicating, among other things, clarity of education goal, past success, commitment, integrity, likelihood to follow through, and a statement on how the scholarship will make a difference”.
PEO exists as a source of encouragement and support for women to realize their potential in whatever worthwhile endeavor they choose. True to the mission of promoting educational opportunities for women, education continues to be the primary philanthropy of the PEO Sisterhood. Grant, loan and award recipients do not need to be members of PEO – a woman is eligible to apply if she currently resides, or has in the past, resided in Grand County. With the exception of international students who receive International Peace Scholarships, each recipient is sponsored by a PEO chapter, allowing chapter members to be a meaningful part of “their” student’s life.
To learn more about PEO, visit peointernational.org.