Extension homemakers scatter kindness

Extension homemakers from the Southeast District, Area 2 — Bedford recently gathered for their spring meeting at Cornerstone Community Church in Seymour.

Jackson County hosted the meeting for the nine-county district, which also includes Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Lawrence, Orange, Scott and Washington counties.

Bedford district representative Anne Moore welcomed approximately 40 attendees to the March 21 event, followed by the pledge, creed and mission statement. Seymour resident Olga Otte then shared some inspiring words about her involvement with the organization.

Otte said she became a homemaker when she went with her mother to the extension homemakers Newkirk Club, and when that club folded, she went to Kum Join Us, where she is still a member today.

“I love being able to get together with friends and neighbors to live, laugh and learn, which was the theme from a few years ago,” she said. “Extension Homemakers gives us the opportunity to interact with others in our immediate circle and to influence so many others through our various projects.”

Otte said the latest project has kept her occupied, as she made 400 pocket hearts last year. She then told attendees to let the extension clubs help them to make life large and lovely.

The pocket hearts Otte mentioned are small cloth heart shapes made by extension members and placed in a small bag with a card that says “Scatter kindness the #IEHA way” with an encouraging message on one side, and on the other side, it explains about the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association.

The state theme for 2022-23 is “Scatter kindness,” which was chosen by state President Michelle Roberts.

“The presidents get to choose the theme for the year and then decide on a project to do across the state, and my project is the pocket hearts,” Roberts said. “Basically, the idea is to get people started doing some random acts of kindness and to help them get started through the pocket hearts.”

Roberts said when she stepped into the role at conference, she challenged all of the counties to work on this project. Right now, the pocket hearts have been scattered all over Indiana, the United States, Kenya, Australia, Canada and other places.

“It has been a wonderful outreach, and we’ve been hearing back how the pocket hearts have touched people, so that’s pretty special,” she said.

Another presenter at the meeting was Tara Beckman, Purdue extension educator from Harrison County, who demonstrated some low-impact movements that can be done while seated or standing next to a chair.

Debbie Rouse, Sheryl Ault and Sarah Blaker from the Freetown Friends club in Jackson County were at the meeting and participated in the stretching and arm lift exercises.

Rouse said she has been a member of the club for 45 years, and she enjoys the fellowship and seeing what other clubs are doing.

Ault said they also get craft ideas and recipes, and last month, they went to Kay’s Kafe in Brownstown.

“This year, we’ve decided that we’re going to go to different restaurants, like Asian, Mexican and different cultures,” she said. “We’re also going to the Milroy Amish School auction in April and have different road trips planned out for the year.”

Author Donna Cronk from Pendleton was a guest speaker at the meeting and talked about the inspiration behind her book, “There’s a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go.” The book is about her storage organization project while at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“As I worked, I found more than just stuff. I found memories of life experiences, family heirlooms and lots of paperwork,” Cronk said. “I also found stories worth keeping, even when the objects that went with them weren’t.”

She said when tossing things out, it’s good to tread lightly with your family members regarding things your loved ones want to keep, and if you respect their wishes, they’ll probably respect yours.

“Some things mean a lot to a person, but not to another, and that’s just how it is because we’re all different,” she said.

Cronk went on to list the top three reasons why people keep certain objects: Memories, emotions or the belief they’ll need it again.

“After finding things you want to keep, it’s a good idea to label what’s in your storage boxes so if you need something, you can just read the labels instead of going through the boxes,” she said. “You may be surprised when you examine your stored things that you can let some of them go.”

Cronk said many people have a lot of photos, and she stressed how important it is to label those pictures because future generations might not have any idea who the pictures are of.

“Things really important to you that you’d like to pass down in your family, set them aside as something special in a way your kids will know they’re special by creating a legacy box,” she said. “You can also give away keepsakes to your family now to be enjoying. Remember, we are the descendants, but soon, we’ll be the ancestors.”

Cronk brought a few of her legacy boxes and presented some of those treasures found in her attic, including special Christmas tree ornaments, ribbons, an antique baby dress with matching shoes, an ashtray and other small items that belonged to her brother.

Extension members were encouraged to share and reflect on possessions they have kept throughout the years, too.

Active extension homemakers clubs in Jackson County

Country Friends, organized October 1985

Country Lace, organized November 1982

Crothersville, organized April 1936

Freetown Friends, organized April 1977

Friends and Neighbors, organized 1972

Kum Join Us, organized October 1946

Wegan Wide Awake, organized February 1924