Friday, August 01, 2008

Shout Out

My mother encouraged me several years ago to join a very special group of women. From the time I was a little girl I always knew my Mom belonged to P.E.O. I was not a sorority person in college but I still decided that this sisterhood was worth being a part of. P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization dedicated to the support of women's education worldwide. I am particularly impressed with the help and support through scholarships provided to women from third world and oppressed countries. These women then return to their home countries after receiving advanced degrees in the United States and they apply their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of their people. In our world today, it is the education of women in places where women do not always have this opportunity that may help solve some of the worst problems.

On a smaller scale, individual P.E.O. chapters devote time and money to help in their local communities. For example, my chapter was notified of a homeless family in one of our public schools 20 minutes from my house. Three elementary school aged children were being cared for by their grandparents. Through a special program, they did manage to find housing. During the week, the school was the resource for breakfast and lunch for these three kids. It is hard to believe for some of us, but the grandparents struggled to provide all the needs, including food, for these children. Through the school, our chapter provided healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for the weekends and holidays this past school year. Not only did we provide food, but we managed to come up with furniture like dressers that homeless families do not have once they find a place to live. The family has found more permanent housing in another community and we have notified another P.E.O. chapter to follow up with them.

When I learned of my diagnosis, I notified my friends in my P.E.O. chapter immediately after telling my family and my priest. My chapter has about 25 or 30 regular members who have become my dear friends over the past four years. These women have overwhelmed me with love. They have provided food, flowers, and plants. I am receiving cards nearly daily it seems. Most importantly, all of these women are giving me heartfelt prayers. Since I am one of the younger members of my particular chapter, I am being given emotional support and advice from other cancer survivors. I feel their genuine love and support and I am so so grateful.

But wait, there's more! P.E.O. is a large network, I am discovering. I have received cards and messages from other chapters in my county. And it has not stopped there. My mother's chapter in Helena, Montana has sent me individual words of encouragement from many of the members. Moreover, I am receiving cards and letters from chapters in Helena other than my Mom's. Oftentimes, I do not recognize the name signed at the bottom, but I know the person's wishes are just as authentic as if it came from my chapter. Every single card I get, I am saving.

This is a big shout out to P.E.O. I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. From the bottom of my heart!