It may not surprise those familiar with Summit County to learn that the Philanthropic Educational Organization has a strong presence here. The two local chapters — the FU chapter and the IB chapter — conduct a variety of fundraisers throughout the year to provide educational and scholarship opportunities to local women of all ages.
This month, both chapters are striving toward their goal of reaching out to support more women.
The PEO was started in 1869 by a group of seven women dedicated to education. Since then it has grown into an international organization with a variety of loan, assistance and scholarship programs. The organization has given more than $200 million in financial assistance to more than 80,000 recipients.
There are 6,000 PEO chapters throughout the United States and Canada — 240 in Colorado alone — adding up to nearly a quarter of a million members. Summit County’s FU chapter has been active since 1969. The IB chapter came about in 1989 and manages several fundraisers throughout the year. The chapters offer scholarships to Summit High School students, as well as scholarships, loans and other educational opportunities to women returning to formal education.
The IB chapter is hosting its second slideshow fundraiser Thursday, April 3, at the Dillon Community Church. The money raised will go into scholarships for women continuing education.
“It will be used to give local scholarships to local women,” said Carol Goodwin, chapter treasurer. “Every year in summer we offer scholarships to local women who are in their final years of education, … and the amount we give just depends on how much money we have been able to raise through the year.”
The slideshow will feature shots that local photographer Bill Linfield took on a trip to Alaska. Last year’s slideshow focused on wildlife and landscapes around Summit County.
“It’s really generous of him to donate his time to put this slideshow together,” said Goodwin. “We really appreciate the time and donation that he is making to help us raise the funds.”
For Linfield, doing what he can to help out the PEO takes no second thought.
“My mom, I think, has been a member for probably 50 years, and my wife’s a member. I have three sisters who are members; my daughter’s a member, so PEO’s in my blood,” he said.
Linfield’s work has also been part of the chapter’s calendars and notecards sold annually to raise further money for the scholarships.
“I love showing off my photographs. Why take them if I don’t show them to people?” he said.
In addition to preparing the slideshow, Linfield is providing two items in a silent auction format — a 24-by-36-inch canvas of a moose photo and a half-day photography lesson with him in the field.
To potential attendees, Linfield said, “If they enjoy seeing good pictures and if they have any interest in Alaska, it will be a chance to see some fun photography, and a $10 admission is nothing for a good cause like this.”
Cottey College, located in Nevada, Mo., was donated as a gift to PEO in 1927. It’s fully accredited and offers six four-year bachelor’s degree programs in English, environmental studies, international relations/business, liberal arts and psychology.
The FU chapter is currently accepting applications from local sophomores, juniors and seniors to attend the summer program at the college.
The five-day summer program offers an interdisciplinary workshop focused on leadership. Participants from all around the country room together and take part in a high ropes course, team building and topical sessions led by Cottey professors and distinguished alumni.
“It’s basically all about leadership this year and helping the participants to develop some fundamental skills in things like networking and helping to prepare them for college and future careers,” said Maureen Westerland, chairperson of Cottey College programs for the FU chapter.
The program was attended by a Summit High School student two years ago, and Westerland and the chapter members hope this year will see at least one or two participants from Summit.
“It prepares them for what college will be like,” she said, and could be a helpful addition to a university application.
Applications for the summer workshop can be found online at www.CotteyCollege.edu/workshop. The FU chapter also recommends that applicants send them a copy of the application. It can be mailed to Catherine Ashton Hirst, P.O. Box 695, Frisco, CO 80443.
Further questions can be addressed to Westerland at firstname.lastname@example.org.