Adventure Time: Blacksburg, VA Edition (P.E.O. Virginia State Convention 2018)

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This is my first-ever P.E.O. State Convention post!

What is P.E.O.?

  • From P.E.O. International: P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women CELEBRATE the advancement of women; EDUCATE women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College and MOTIVATE women to achieve their highest aspirations.
  • Motto: Women helping women reach for the stars
  • There are 230,000 members throughout the United States and Canada
  • More information: https://www.peointernational.org/

This was at least my fourth Virginia State Convention. I have been to Convention in Roanoke, at least twice in Richmond, and this year was in Blacksburg, at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

I was one of two delegates. Each chapter – There are 76 chapters in Virginia – are asked to send at least two delegates to Convention every year. I was thrilled to be a delegate with Darcy, a newly-initiated sister into our chapter. We are from Chapter L, based in Norfolk.

Convention was held from June 1-3, 2018. Come along for the ride!


Friday, June 1st

Darcy and I left my house around 8:30 a.m. for the long drive. It was roughly 440 miles from Hampton Roads. I wanted to make sure we got there before 4:30 p.m., where I was supposed to be in rehearsal for one of the convention workshops.

Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot of traffic. We arrived around 2:00 p.m., and the hotel was already buzzing with activity! We checked in, and then went toward Virginia Tech’s campus in search of food, and to stretch our legs.

We discovered downtown Blacksburg, and we stopped at Bottom of the Stairs (BOTS, for short). They weren’t busy, and the food was delicious!

My Slider Trio – Chicken, pulled pork, and their “veggie BBQ,” which was pulled jackfruit. Yummy!

After our early dinner, we took a Lyft back to The Inn. My workshop rehearsal was successful, and we were able to relax for a bit before the evening activities began.

I was part of the Friday night membership workshop, which was stylized as a live radio show from “WPEO.” It was a blast! I was “selected” as a Region 3 contestant, where I was a panelist with Ibani, a sister from Chapter AS in Richmond.

The Convention theme was “Catch The Waves To Better Futures.” Our outgoing President, Sherry Arendt, lives right on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, so she brought “the ocean to the Alleghenies.”

After our evening workshops, Darcy and I spent several hours with the Franc 7’s group. Franc Rhodes was one of the seven founding sisters in 1869, and she was the youngest of the group. So, Franc 7’s are the women who are under 40-years-old. We had 21 Franc 7’s present during Convention, which was awesome! We pushed couches and chairs together, and enjoyed a nice, productive, unscripted conversation. Darcy and I hit the hay around 11:00 p.m.


Saturday, June 2nd

Saturday is easily the busiest and longest day. Breakfast usually starts around 7:00 a.m., and the day ends with the Saturday Night Banquet at 10:00 p.m.!

The P.E.O. flower is the marguerite, a flower much like a daisy. When I saw this dress for sale in the Darby’s Dresses Facebook group, I knew I had to have it!

One of the highlights of Convention is honoring our Golden Girls – Women who are celebrating 50 years of membership in P.E.O.! We had one sister that we celebrated this year – Our current chapter president, Jeanne Brody. She was initiated into a New Jersey chapter in 1968.

The handmade gold centerpieces!

The Golden Girls luncheon was fabulous. Ethel Muter, the State Organizer, did an amazing job with the presentation. In addition to displaying the 29 Golden Girls, their photos, and fun facts, she also did a ton of research on things happening during these ladies’ initiation dates in 1968!

One of Sherry’s challenges for the past year was using our special sand castle bucket for collecting spare change and fundraising ideas. All 76 chapters decorated their buckets, and proudly displayed them for all to see!

$2,000 in one fundraiser!

On Saturday afternoon, there were a few hours between the end of the day’s Convention business and the Saturday Night Banquet. Darcy and I walked around campus, and enjoyed the Duck Pond area.

On Saturday night, there’s a great banquet. There are project speakers who thank the P.E.O. chapter or chapters that helped nominate or sponsor them, and all of them are incredibly inspirational and humble.

We had dinner, and then an awesome trio played beach music. Imagine around 200 women dancing for two hours!


There are six International projects:

The state / Commonwealth of Virginia has two state projects:

Convention also has what’s called a “Projects Room,” where attendees can learn more about the projects, and see the recipients from the last year.


Sunday, June 3rd

I wanted to get as many photos as I could!

The sign outside the Projects Room.

The photos below showcase our seven founders, who started P.E.O. at Iowa Wesleyan College on January 21, 1869.

P.E.O. is celebrating its sesquicentennial – 150th anniversary – in 2019!

The year 2019 is also a P.E.O. International Convention year – So the 150th celebration will be held where it all began – Des Moines, Iowa. I’m already saving my money for next September!

I love this handmade quilt that showcases all 76 chapters, and where they are in Virginia.

Sunday morning is always a whirlwind. There are just a few hours to finish the Convention business, install the new State Officers, and say goodbye!

P.E.O. also takes time to remember sisters who have died, or passed on to “Chapter Eternal” every year. This year was particularly emotional. There were 69 sisters who passed away, including two Past State Presidents (PSPs).

Tragically, one of those deaths was the accidental death of Liz Jackson, who was the sitting State Secretary. I met her when my church was host to one of the Reciprocity Rallies (Reciprocity is a group of chapters based on geographic location – There are many throughout the state) in September 2017. Sadly, she fell off a balcony in February 2018, and never recovered.

After the Time of Remembrance, Convention business was concluded for the weekend. The new State Officers were installed. Our new State President is Rhesa Janice, from Chpater AZ, Herndon.

The 70th Annual Virginia State Convention will be held in Richmond, Virginia in 2019. The year 2019 will be an exciting one for P.E.O.!

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Rhesa’s theme is “Value The Past, Vision The Future.”


I hope you enjoyed my post about P.E.O. and the annual Virginia State Convention!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Commentary #64: “This Small Norwegian Town Turns Abandoned Buildings Into Bookstores”

Geeky Book Snob

Image Credit: Geeky Book Snob

I saw this post from Read Voraciously on February 28th.

Here’s the link to Read Voraciously’s original post:

And, here’s the link to the Reader’s Digest article:


I knew I wanted to write about this before I finished the Reader’s Digest article. How cool is this?

There are approximately 2.5 miles of books in the village of Mundal, part of Fjaerland, Norway. Northeast of Bergen, it looks like an absolutely beautiful area to live and visit!

Alamy

Image Credit: Alamy

Knowing me, and my love of books, I don’t think I would want to leave! But, the bokbyen (“booktown”) is only open for business from May to mid-September.

But, fear not! The online side is open year-round.

I would love to at least see the stunning glaciers. And then, read a book next to them.


For more information, check out these sources:


What about you? Have you ever visited a booktown?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #60: “This American Town Was Left to Die, and Suddenly Economists Care”

South Boston

South Boston Historic Downtown – South Boston, Virginia. Image Credit: Virginia Is For Lovers

Back in August, one of my friends shared this article on Facebook. Immediately intrigued, I clicked on it, curious about what context the headline gave.

Within seconds, I couldn’t believe which town they were referencing.

South Boston, Virginia, is just a few miles away from where my in-laws have their farm. It’s a beautiful town, formerly Boyd’s Ferry, first established in 1796. There are multiple places in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the link to the original article:


I’m definitely not an expert in economics, although I did take ECON 111 at Longwood and got quite an education during that semester. However, I’ve always admired small-town America, and I find myself researching different towns, counties, and rural areas, particularly in Virginia. I wrote several research papers on Appalachia between high school and college, and have always been fascinated with the tragedies and triumphs of the vast region.

South Boston is one of the towns in Halifax County. Like many small towns, there’s been what referred to as a rolling recession in the town since the 1990s. The town has about 8,000 residents, and the workforce has decreased by about 25 percent in the last two decades. This particular article discussed the effects of free trade on the U.S.

Two particular movements devastated Halifax County and its workforce: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, and then when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). While the unemployment rate in the U.S. was trending toward historic lows, the unemployment rate in Halifax County surged. The highest rate recorded in the county was 13.9 percent.

Many towns like South Boston experience a domino effect. Once manufacturing jobs dry up or leave, other businesses, seemingly unrelated or connected, also start to fade away. The dominoes keep falling, until something happens to make them stop. In South Boston, there are shells of car dealerships, empty downtown storefronts, and other evidence.

Fortunately, in South Boston, conditions have improved. The unemployment rate has held steady around five percent, far better than nearly 14 percent. A few manufacturers call South Boston home, not textiles or tobacco, but sports cars, robotics, power, and heavy electrical equipment.

Sprawling brick buildings that were once tobacco warehouses are now apartments. Two of them are now the home of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where students can become certified in a number of disciplines, thanks to schools such as Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Danville Community College, and Southside Virginia Community College.

IT certificate holders have been hired at Microsoft’s data center in a neighboring county. Other certifications include nursing and welding. The massive investment is paying off.

I’m glad that South Boston is becoming a success story. However, I think of many areas of Appalachia where coal mining jobs, among others, have been automated, and there aren’t enough jobs in the area to make up the difference.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂