Sherry Appling and other female Logan County residents are members of the 153-year-old Philanthropic Educational Organization International (P. E. O.), an international group of women making a positive impact on other women’s lives. The state board of directors recently met in Russellville to finalize plans ahead of the state convention.
Appling, the current Kentucky State Chapter president, also works at the Logan County Library. “It’s a philanthropic educational organization for women. We have six philanthropies that we support — Cottey College, Educational Loan Fund, International Peace Scholarship Fund, Program for Continuing Education, Scholar Awards, and Star Scholarship,” said Appling. Each program is supported by 5,800 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. To date, the organization has awarded or loaned, internationally, more than $400 million in educational assistance.
Cottey College was founded in 1884, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Music, and was turned over to the P. E. O. Sisterhood in 1927. It is the only nonsectarian institution in the U.S. solely owned and supported by women.
“The scholarships are awarded to a high school student, a college student, or an individual with at least two years of interrupted education,” Appling explained. “When a state doesn’t have a candidate for a scholarship, they can choose a candidate from another state,” added Lorna McVay of Florence.
Cottey alum, Abby Clay of Lexington, said, “It’s a small liberal arts college for women. It is a magical place.” Clay added, “You end up paying less to go to Cottey than you would pay for room and board to go to UK, except you’re getting a much smaller campus, individualized attention, and you’re being taught by the professors. It’s a private school education for the price of public school.”
Lewisburg resident, Abigail McPherson, daughter of Kevin and Sandra McPherson and a Todd County High senior, was selected a this year’s recipient of the Star Scholarship. Abigail said, “Receiving this scholarship means a great deal to me and my family.” She added, “It means more to me because I also play sports. Instead of the team giving me a scholarship, they can give someone else the opportunity of an education with a scholarship, too.”
Abigail said, in speaking of P. E. O., “The members are extremely kind and willing to help. I already feel like I have a community of supporters out there.” She plans to attend Cottey College and major in biology.
According to their website, “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.”
Clay said, “While we are an international organization, we help at the local level in every community where we have a chapter.” She also explained that they are more than a financial support system. “We are a sisterhood. We offer loving, care and support of each other.”
Locally, activities that chapter members have been involved with include a cheese ball fundraiser and the Drop Your Drawers drive to collect new underwear at the Logan County Public Library for distribution throughout both school districts. “Giving back is part of our mission,” said Clay.
Anyone interested in becoming a member or who wishes to get involved with P. E. O., may contact Sherry Appling at the Logan County Public Library.
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