#WyoStrong: Local chapter of international women’s organization celebrates 100 years

(Riverton, WY) – This month, the sisters of Riverton’s Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Chapter H will sing “Happy Birthday,” eat cake, drink wine, and share a century’s worth of highlights as they celebrate their 100th birthday.

Chapter H is the oldest of three Riverton chapters and was chartered by 12 women in 1920. This year technically marks its 101st anniversary, however, the pandemic delayed the celebration.

This international sisterhood recognizes the advancements of women and supports the steps they take to achieve their highest aspirations in education. Locally, these ladies hold several fundraisers like selling pecans, cookbooks, raffles, and more throughout the year to provide scholarships to graduating seniors.

This year two $1,000 scholarships were presented to Annie Vincent and Jacoby Johnson who graduated from Riverton High School this year. Annie is headed to the University of Wyoming and Jacoby will be attending Central Wyoming College.

In addition to these annual local scholarships, Chapter H also provides funds to the state and national P.E.O. chapters that go toward women who are non-traditional students, advancing their degrees, or are international among others.

They are also stewards of the private women’s school Cottey College which was founded in 1884, 15 years after P.E.O. was established – five Wyoming graduates will be attending Cottey in the fall.

Education is the focus of this sisterhood, so in addition to monetary help, they also host educational and informational guest speakers on different topics at their monthly meetings.

County 10 Photo – First Chapter H book

County 10 had the opportunity to sit down with three members of Chapter H including Linda Vosika and Kathy Brown, who have both been members for over 35 years, as well as Mary Ann Hutchison who is in her 54th year.

They all shared that being part of P.E.O. is very rewarding because you meet all kinds of people that you would not ordinarily be around. Ages of members range from young to wise; a few of the local members are now in their nineties and 70th years of membership.

You also have legacy members like Mary Ann who started when she was 18 and comes from a line of members including her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

“We love each other, we do for each other,” Vosika said. “We also, at different times, have helped other people not P.E.O.s in the community.”

“It was kind of interesting when I went through some of these [scrapbooks], in 1945 they said we sent a card to a family that had a son missing in the war,” she continued. “That just hit my heart.”

Since P.E.O. is international, you can join other chapters if you were to move. The three explained if “you belong here, you belong everywhere.”

Joining P.E.O. is by invitation only and happens through current member recommendations. You can learn more about the organization online here.

Happy birthday, Chapter H!

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