P.E.O. – The sisterhood of strong women
HUERFANO — During my interviews with several of the strong women of Spanish Peaks, the mention of the P.E.O. – a philanthropic educational organization – came up as part of the repertoire of actions taken by women dedicated to the improvement of the community and the human condition. Then this June while attending the Colorado State P.E.O. convention, Norma Lou Murr was honored with a celebration recognizing her 50 years as part of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was named a “Spanish Peaks Legend” by the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation in 2013 for extraordinary volunteer work with the school, church, and library boards as well as the work done with the Chamber of Commerce and the Mining Museum. The P.E.O. Sisterhood exists as a source of encouragement and support for women to realize their potential in whatever worthwhile endeavor they choose. Seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa founded the P.E.O. in 1869. This small group of women – bonded by their enthusiasm for women’s opportunities – has grown from that tiny membership of seven to nearly a quarter of a
million members in chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 1927, the P.E.O. Sisterhood wrapped their arms around the gift of Cottey College from Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. This made Cottey College the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women. Located in Nevada, Missouri (approximately 95 miles south of Kansas City, MO), Cottey College is an independent Liberal Arts and Science college for women. Ninety-eight percent of the students receive some type of financial aid based on need or merit. The P.E.O. consists of many local chapters with the mission to promote educational opportunities and assist women in pursuing their educational goals. The P.E.O. is clearly making a difference in the lives of women all over the world. More than 90,000 women have benefited from the organization’s educational grants, loans and awards. The local chapter of the P.E.O., Chapter BZ, proudly sponsors the six international philanthropies, or projects, designed to assist women with their educational goals as well as two additional local projects. One of these local projects is the Melissa Meyer fund that has granted scholarships to over 35 local women who have attended or are attending college to get a teaching degree and the other is a loan available to both men and women made possible through a generous donation by Fred O. Roof. P.E.O., through the local BZ chapter, is in a position to receive applications for educational loans, grants and scholorships based on need and or merit. Whether the applicant is a high school graduate seeking to go to college, a college graduate seeking a Doctorate degree, a woman needing educational assistance to enter the workforce or a woman seeking educational assistance for whatever worthwhile endeavor she chooses, assistance may be available through the local Chapter BZ of the P.E.O. One of the ways to support the P.E.O. effort is to attend the “Orphan Art Sale” fundraiser to be held on July 31, August 1 and 2 at the Parkside Gallery in La Veta. If you have art that you want to donate or consign or if you want more information on the educational assistance available through the P.E.O., contact Debra Malone, President of P.E.O. local Chapter BZ at (719) 738-6294.