March 15, 2012 by Annie McCormick
WINSLOW – The County Extension Homemakers’ Council started in Washington county in 1912 with a $1500 grant from the USDA. A part of the University of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service, its goal was to educate residents with home demonstrations of canning, sewing, gardening and introducing new practices or technology to homemakers and farmers.
Winslow resident Billie Sue Hughes believes the charter in Winslow started in 1962. She joined in 1964 or 1965 where she took classes on canning. She said the county office, which is now located at the Washington County Fairgrounds property, can teach you about whatever it is you want to learn from knitting to planting. The Win-
slow group includes Ellen Center, Shirley Nesbitt and Fleeta Clark.
“There’s so many old women. I don’t know what the average age is, but it’s oooooold,” laughs Hughes. She thinks the youngest member is in her 60s. She says that women retire and want something to do or want to learn something new. The group has always had an average of ten members. The monthly meeting is in the daytime so the ladies don’t have to drive at night.
They are also a non-profit service organization. Their main source of income is a December event where the ladies wrap gifts for shoppers at the mall. The Winslow group also makes items to sell at the fair bazaar. Every year, they give three or four $500 scholarships to the 4-H with the money raised. The group also donates time to
Seven Hills Homeless Shelter where they cook for clients. Mrs. Hughes still tears up when she talks about how grateful the cli- ents are. They give scholarships for Ozark Folkways’ summertime art programs and donate to local non-profit groups. Twice yearly the home extension clubs provide something for the patients at the VA hospital.
One project is making “teaching dolls” which are used by doctors at the UAMS Childrens’ Hospital to demonstrate procedures to a child going into surgery. Most people assumed that the dolls were discarded after they were used, but Billie Sue found out differently when she was in line at Wal-Mart. The woman behind her in line asked her about the bolt of fabric Billie Sue was buying. When she told her what
it would be used for, the woman said that her grandson still has the one he got from the hospital.
The group works hard but still leaves time to do something fun. They plan an annual outing. This year will be a visit to Crystal Bridges art museum in Bentonville. Billie Sue is pondering an artistic name badge something appropriate for the museum.
Anyone is welcome to join Winslow‘s Home Extension group. The meeting is ev- ery third Tuesday, 11am, at the First Baptist Church in Winslow. What a great opportunity to give back to some programs that offer assistance to so many. For more information, call the UofA’s Cooperative Extension office: 444-1755, or Billie Sue Hughes at 634-2921.