Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 18, 2013

Ponta group celebrates 82 years

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

NEW SUMMERFIELD —  As Cherokee County Extension Agent Wendi Green described to a gathering at Thursday's TEEA Rally Day the commitment of generations of members of the Ponta Extension Education Association, she mentioned how those bonds spilled over to the personal lives of the group.

“Members meet outside regular club meetings, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, playing cards – what's that card game you play?” she asked one of the members.

But before she could answer, a male voice called out, “Poker!” as the mostly female gathering laughed.

More than two dozen people were on hand at the event, held at the New Summerfield Church of Christ.

Held annually, Rally Day is an opportunity for the various Texas Extension Education Association groups to gather, Green said, noting that the longest-running club was formed 82 years ago in Central Heights, while another – the Ponta group – was founded 80 years ago. The Ponta club was recognized during the lunch-time gathering.

Founded a century ago as the “Girls Tomato Club,” the name has changed over the years to Home Demonstration Clubs, Texas Extension Homemaker's Association and the Texas Association for Family and Community Education, to the current “Texas Extension Education Association.”

“Each club have goals of what they want to do (in a community) but they all do community service work,” Green said. “They originally started out teaching people how to can, to preserve food, and make their own mattresses. They were instrumental in creating Victory Gardens (popular during both World Wars).”

In a nutshell, “these clubs help us (extension agents) with our work,” she explained. “They help spread the word (about AgriLife Extension services), and help with program efforts we have in our community by doing a lot of community service and volunteer work, as well as giving out student scholarships and things like being (project) judges or helping with 4-H.”

During the Thursday rally, the Ponta group was recognized for 80 years of service

They “first organized in 1933 as Ponta Home Demonstration Club (and) in the early days, they learned household skills and supported the Family Farm Day, which is known today as our 4-H Club show,” Green said.

The club is comprised of nine members, including 97-year-old Elna Perkins, who is the second-oldest member in Cherokee County and has been with the Ponta group for 70 years.

The Ponta club serves through projects like the Christmas Tree box, creating gift boxes for overseas soldiers, sewing lap blankets for nursing home residents, and participating in Angel Tree ministries. And during Volunteer Appreciation Month, they also provide breakfast to Cherokee County Commissioners Court.

Members also participate in Walk Across Texas, a 20-year-old statewide program designed to get Texas physically active so they can lead healthier lives.

Their group's name? “The Ponta Grannies.”