I am a member of the Hand-E-Hands Community and Family Extension Leaders (CFEL) Club. I had never heard to these Clubs until I got married and moved to South Dakota.
Extension Clubs are within the State Cooperative Extension Service programming umbrella. According to the South Carolina Family and Community Leaders website the purpose behind Extension Clubs is to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities through fellowship, education, and service.
I found some history behind CFEL Clubs from the same website:
In the early 1900’s, an interest developed in improving agriculture and rural life. The United States Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with state government and farm organizations, developed programs to accomplish this aim. They recognized that they must reach the youth and homemakers with educational programs if home and family living were to improve.
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed by Congress providing for an educational program in agriculture and home economics. Because the plan provided for cooperation of federal, state, and county governments, the program offered by each land grant college became known as the Cooperative Extension Service. Additional home economists were employed to lead the home economics program for women and youth.
The original plan for the homemakers clubs was for a project leader in each club to receive specific training from the Extension Home Economist and teach the lesson in the monthly club meeting. The clubs were also the core of group action for community and county-wide improvements.
From my understanding Extension Clubs also served as a way for ranch wives to get out of the house for a few hours and enjoy the company of adult women. This included dressing up, leaving Dad to watch the kids and having an excuse to use the “good china” when it was your turn to entertain the group.
Our Club Ladies meet once a month and conduct a business meeting and are active with community service projects. In addition, our gatherings serve as fellowship as we discuss current events in the world and our lives. We share things we see in magazines and newspapers. The Ladies also trade many books.
In the winter months we have dinner meetings. The hostess provides the main course and the rest of the members bring salads, vegetable, rolls/bread or a dessert. We even allow our husbands to join us. The men need to catch up on the community “news” you know. These meals are subject to new and girly recipes. Man food is not a meal requirement!
Over the years our Club has experienced a lot of laughter, a few tears, and an abundance of brainstorming to solve the world’s problems. At the end of the day we enjoy the friendship of our neighbors and feel blessed that we live where we do.