2018 Convention Highlights

 

The 60th Annual

Alabama P.E.O. State Chapter Convention

 

April 26-28, 2018

The Admiral Hotel

Mobile, Alabama

 

 

International Guest of Honor

Cathy Manhart

Trustee, Educational Loan Fund

International P.E.O. Chapter

 

Hosted by Chapters L, AB, and AF

A year ago at Alabama  State Convention I invited you to join me on a journey to "Discover the Treasures of P.E.O." and boy oh boy, did you step up to the challenge.  Yesterday Historian Ann Kaucheck reported on many of the accomplishments of sisters and chapters across our state that were included in the annual presidents’ letters.  I cannot tell you how proud and excited I was each time I tore open one of those envelopes or clicked on those emails.

 

I asked you to get to know your own chapter sisters better and the activities chapters implemented were great.  You also reached out to other chapters in fundraising, community service (what is a potato dump by the way?) and lots of fun social time.  Alabama raised its giving to support women.  We evaluated what was stale, tried new things (yes, one chapter has begun bowling regularly).  Along the way serendipitous events occurred like marriages, new babies, initiations and moving programs that provided surprising treasures. I saw examples of loving concern everywhere I turned. 

Before turning the podium over to your new officers, I would like to spend a few moments reflecting on the Treasures I have discovered as I have been on my Executive Board journey. Honestly, it has been one of the most profound and meaningful experiences of my life.  But the journey has not been all rainbows, butterflies and puppies.  Some discoveries were not treasures!  Like last month when I discovered in my efforts to back up my files for this convention, I instead deleted them all.  The treasure was knowing through the support of sisters, though, I would persevere and be here in front of you today.

 

Or, as I tried to be responsive to questions from sisters across Alabama, I picked up the telephone whenever the area code looked like an Alabama call, even if I didn’t recognize the caller i.d.  I “discovered” who to vote for, why I needed a new security system and that I could get a lower rate on my credit card. But on those occasion when a sister was at the other end of the line, it really was a treasure to have direct contact.  I hope you forgive me though if you phone me next year and I sometimes let the call roll to voice mail.

 

A special treasure discovered while I have served on the Board is discovering the how rich the links are that connect us with the original seven founders.  Visiting Iowa Wesleyan University and the heritage room at International Headquarters brought me face to face with items that had been touched and appreciated by almost 150 years’ of sisters.  It made me want to commit that what I would leave behind would be worthy of their efforts. Being worthy of their efforts inspires in me more passion for raising funds to provide education that changes lives for women, their families, their communities and even our world.  I have grown from not wanting to be on my chapters’ Ways and Means to agreeing to chair it.

 

One of the treasures of P.E.O. is that you never have to take on the world on your own.  Sisters always have your back.  I look around the room today and know that each one of you stands willing to help me if I need you not because I preside over our organization but because we are sisters.  That willing spirit to support one another extends beyond the borders of Alabama.  I have felt it at Conventions of International Chapter, from the executive officers of other states, provinces and districts and in the welcomes extended by those who run our bed and breakfast program.  Over the past five years I have met women who will be a part of the rest of my life that I would never have known but for this opportunity.

A few years ago, Alabama’s state board adopted a board buddy program.  It matches each Board member to a number of chapters she will stay connected to throughout her Board service. By keeping the same chapters, those relationships have deepened over the intervening years.  As I step away from the Board I will miss my special relationship with chapters A, B, D, F, K, R, T and Y and how you made me feel a part of your chapters and not an outsider. That has greatly enriched my Board service.

 

I am not sure I fully appreciated the treasure of the multigenerational legacy of P.E.O. until I experienced it and saw so many examples of it.  During this convention, I wanted to give a nod to how special I think that is by using mother- daughter teams as much as I could.  My mother Barb is serving as one of the guards and during the founding of Chapter AM, as a state board member, I got to play a role in her initiation.  Pat Elder, who grew up in Nevada, Missouri, and her daughter Lea Ann Webb have served as convention tellers.  Would everyone who has a mother and/or a daughter who is a P.E.O. please stand?  ….  If that isn’t a treasure I don’t know what is.

 

My three chapters, AA, AK, and AM have been and will remain treasures in my life. 

 

The experiences and memories of this convention will be treasured as long as I live and I thank every sister, BIL, friend or family member who contributed to its success.

 

I could spend several hours going over the treasures I have found and the people I have met and to whom I am grateful, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that P.E.O. is and will remain a treasured part of my life and I will continue the journey to discover new treasures.

I know as I step off of the board, I am leaving Alabama P.E.O. in great hands with your new board.  I hope, though, I am also leaving that board with a vibrant, loving organization that is ready to step into the next phase of our P.E.O. growth. I thank every Alabama sister for the role you played in making this one of the most meaningful experiences in my life and for changing me for the better in so many profound ways.

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