Jessica Lane, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Happy Birthday" is played on the white piano in the First Baptist Church's parlor under a sparkling chandelier. Members of OHCE Rural Neighbors and supporters join in song, celebrating a century of services to the community and perseverance of home values.
The Grady County Oklahoma Home and Community Education group, Rural Neighbors was formed 100 years ago in 1913. The reception was typical of OHCE. The tables were whimsically decorated in magenta table cloths, accented with black star confetti, candles and mirrors. Letitia Bugner decorated the tables with her daughter, Jeannie Howerton and her grandson Lane Howerton.
Joyce Stockton, Rural Neighbors President, gave the welcome and acted as emcee. Gail Morris gave the thought for the day, Gloria King gave the recognition of Past Presidents and State Awards and Susan Routh gave an uplifting speech titled "Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future."
During the awards ceremony, Pat Brownen gave a history of Rural Neighbors.
Rural Neighbors has been recognized for acquiring the most members in OHCE during a given year. Most members of Rural Neighbors are female, but there are a few male members.
OHCE's goal is to work towards improvements of the home and family life. The group started with projects such as making soap, dress forms, cheese and learning to cook with a pressure cooker. Quilting is an ongoing project which remains as significant today as it was when OHCE was formed.
Rural Neighbors has won the Secretary Award on more than one occasion as well as earned Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion ribbons at the Grady County Fair.
Rural Neighbors supports 4H and education. Last year, they gave away two $500 scholarships.They also provide funds to the Resurrection House, Cornerstone Church, Mobile Meals, American Red Cross as well as other charities. The impact of Rural Neighbors even reaches beyond Grady County; during their monthly meetings, they collect money to build wells in third world countries.
Also during their monthly meetings, Rural Neighbors educate themselves on each other about pertinent issues such as credit reports, money management, exercise, dance, cultural enrichment and living healthier lives.
The Rural Neighbors also engage in "Drive by Fruiting" where members give produce to elderly members of the community.
One member of Rural Neighbors has crocheted over 100 cancer caps for veterans.
Margaret Scott has changed the landscape of the Grady County Fairgrounds by writing a grant which resulted in improvements to the grounds. Betty Auld designed the OHCE state emblem.