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Group's joy is in serving others
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Forsyth County News

I love learning about different organizations in our community and hearing about all the good things they are doing to help others.

When friend Martha Lappe invited me to attend a Philanthropic Educational Organization luncheon, I had to admit I had never heard of the group.

I had so much fun. The lunch was lovely, and so was this group of about 25 women. I was surprised to learn how long the organization has been around and how its efforts are far reaching.

P.E.O. was founded by seven female students on Jan. 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. That original small but determined group would no doubt be pleasantly surprised to see the organization has about a quarter million members in chapters across the U.S. and Canada. There are two chapters here in Cumming.

I recently spoke with my friend Catherine Amos (Martha’s sister) about her involvement with the group. A longtime member of the P.E.O. and president of one of the Cumming chapters for the past two years, Catherine was happy to fill me in on what this organization is all about.

She said P.E.O. is about encouraging each other as well as supporting women throughout the country and internationally with educational opportunities.

Catherine told me when she was a newlywed and busy working she didn’t have time to meet many new friends.

“It was a wonderful way to meet people while at the same time knowing you are part of an organization that helps women in your community as well as all over the world,” she said.

The P.E.O. awards scholarships to women so they can pursue their educational goals.

“We once supported a woman from Africa who came to the United States for her education, and then went back to her country to fulfill her dreams of helping those from her native town.”

Some women may want to go back to school and pursue a higher education and P.E.O. can assist qualified applicants with the rising cost of higher education.

“We are always looking for those we can help,” Catherine said.

There is an interview process, and Catherine encourages women to apply for scholarships. In addition to its scholarships, P.E.O. also owns and operates a fully-accredited liberal arts college for women in Nevada, Mo., called Cottey College.

Catherine emphasized the structure of P.E.O.

“That is important because if you relocate to another part of the country, you find the local P.E.O. and when you join, everything is familiar to you.” Members say that when they move to a new place, the first thing they do is find out when and where the local P.E.O. group meets.
Even during my short time with the P.E.O. members, I could feel the camaraderie and bonds between these women.

A true sisterhood, I love that this group’s focus is on educational opportunities for women. If you know anybody who could benefit from a scholarship or if you are interested in joining, go online at to find out more.

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at