Secret Sisterhood Goes Public at Tablescape Fundraiser

November 3, 2023

The local P.E.O. Chapter BA held its first “Tablescape” fundraiser in Farmington. P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Education Organization. It’s a U.S.-based international women’s association of about 230,000 members from across the country and 6,000 local chapters. Their singular mission is to promote higher education for women through grants, loans, and scholarships. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Ace Hardware in Farmington and CMIT Solutions

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There's something going on that's been going on for a long time now. After 155 years, the PEO sisterhood is ready for its closeup. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by ACE Hardware and Farmington and CMIT Solutions. I'm Hayley Opsal. PEO stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, a US-based International Women's Association of about 230,000 members. Its singular mission is to promote higher education for women through grants, loans and scholarships. PEO Chapter BA in Farmington recently held a tablescape fundraiser at the School of Energy at San Juan College. Their slogan, "Women Helping Women Reach the Stars."

PEO's mission is to help and enable women to get that further education that they're seeking that can help them better themselves and their families and communities. That is why I've been connected with PEO is just the very clear purpose and vision that is what we're doing. Of course, we have fellowship, we have some fun and build some relationships with our other chapter members, which is, you know, it's always good to have a circle of friends. So, and with that common purpose, we can pull together and really make a difference.

The PEO sisterhood was established in 1869 on the campus of Wesleyan College by seven young women who wanted to keep the bonds of friendship strong throughout their lives. In the beginning, the PEO sisterhood had all the hallmarks of a secret society, including special handshakes and code words. The secrecy was for protection from backlash, for forming an independent women's group at a time when the right vote was still 40 years in the future. PEO is said to stand for, protect each other in private, but members will deny it if asked. The secrecy is something members want to leave in the past.

I don't know secrets so much, but they didn't go out and publicize who they were or tell people about what they were doing very much. But in the past, I'd say 10 years, which I've been a member, less than that, they've been more outspoken in wanting to get out in the community more. And that's the reason that we meet in a public area so we get more, you know, exposure that way. And people question who we are.

Today, the PEO Sisterhood has 6,000 local chapters across the country and in Canada. Fundraisers including the recent Tablescape experience in Farmington are the lifeblood for the group.

It went fabulous. I think the community came out. I think they enjoyed seeing the table arrangements. I think it was just a win for the community, a win for our PEO organization, and ultimately, a benefit to the women that we're raising money for. Scholarship money for.

15 tables with clever, colorful themes filled the room, raffle tickets for a silent auction were sold. Homemade cookies served.

I believe that we're going to do it annually. I think it was so much of a success that I believe that we will plan to do it every year, and hopefully, it's just going to get better and better, and the community will become aware of it and it'll just grow.

The PEO Sisterhood also has an international peace scholarship for women from around the world with a promise that they return home to use their educations to support women in their own community and to support peace through education. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Hayley Opsal.


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