This is part of a series of stories by Sheilla Lampkin on the history of Cooperative Extension Homemakers Clubs.
The Western Pines EHC, now known as the “Night Owls”, is less than 40 years old – new in comparison to some of Drew County’s older extension homemakers club in Drew County – but it is one of the county’s most active. Its 13 charter members, who all lived in the Western Pines subdivision of Monticello, hit the ground running in November 1973 when it chose lighting, signage and street improvements for the large subdivision as its first civic project.
Charter members Mrs. Eugene Snowdon, Mrs. Ron Smith, Mrs. Eugene Bickford, Mrs. Robert Buxton, Mrs. Charles Chapman, Mrs. Benny Stone, Mrs. Floyd Warren, Mrs. Rene DeHin, Mrs. Albert Ethridge, H.V. Gill, Mrs. Gene Huff, Mrs. Larry Lawson and Mrs. Everett Maier, formed a committee to meet with then Monticello Mayor James Jordan to obtain more street lights, signs and better streets for the Western Pines neighborhood. Within a year, lights and signs had been installed. The club also hosted the Drew County EHC Spring Council its first year as an organization.
In November, 1978, the city of Monticello began planning for a mini park in Western Pines. Mayor Jordan met to discuss the project with a committee composed of Marilyn Tindall and her husband Jim, Evalee Brown and her husband Dr. Gerald Brown, Carolyn Lane and Nancy Breusch for input from the neighborhood. The Western Pines Minipark Project became a reality when it was dedicated June 14, 1981.
In 2002, the club changed its’ name to the Night Owls since it now had members from all areas of Drew County and many members worked outside the home and could only meet at night. The meetings were often lengthy so the club chose the name “Night Owls” as its new name.
Today, the club is quite active and often provides leadership in the county organization since many members serve, or have served, as county officers. The 2011-2013 Drew County EHC president is Juanita Webb, a long time member of the club. Others in the past who have served as county president are Cathy Boutz, Kathleen Jennings, Diana Parker, and Judy Murphy. Many others have served as county vice president, secretary, and treasurer as well as program of work leaders.
The club has often been instrumental in helping plan many countywide activities such as the annual craft workshops that were held for so many years and then later a Christmas brunch with craft demonstrations. Earlier the county council had also held an EHC Christmas tea at the courthouse for the public that still holds fond memories for longtime Drew Countians.
The club always has a booth at the Drew County Fair. This past year (2011) the Night Owls’ booth won best of show locally and then first place at the district fair in Pine Bluff. Members have always helped operate the fair kitchen as well.
The Night Owls are also always well represented with several members in attendance at most district and state meetings. In earlier years the state meetings were held in different places around the state. The members enjoyed going to the different college campuses and, for those who were mothers of young children, it was their real three day vacation each year. Their favorite classes included the arts and crafts classes, education classes and leadership classes. The 2012 state meeting was held in Hot Springs in June.
The club was privileged to be involved with Arkansas’ hosting of the national EHC meeting in 1994. Several members spent the entire week in Little Rock serving as hostesses while enjoying a week in a hotel. Peggy Echols of Drew County was one of the state committee chairs.
The Night Owls EHC always has a community service project. The current project has been going on for several years. They assist the local Senior Citizens Center by operating quarterly bingo games, assisting on days when school children come to shop in the Senior Citizens gift shop, usually Christmas and Mother’s Day, helping with their annual cake walk, and any other time during the year when Senior Citizen Center Director Barbara Abston calls on them.
In the past, the Night Owls have also assisted at the Other Way and Options. This past school year a few of the members helped teach a cooking class for the afterschool program at MIS.
A favorite activity among members is the annual plant exchange at the May meeting. Each person brings 2 six-packs of a favorite flower, their own container and a bag of potting soil. Each member returns home with a container of twelve different flowers.
The Night Owls is one of the county EHC’s most active and service-oriented clubs. They meet on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the home of a member.