As the Kentucky Extension Homemaker Association celebrates its 80th anniversary, the organization continues to evolve to meet the needs of Kentucky families.
Just ask Terry and Judi Little of Calloway County. After they moved from Houston, Texas to Murray in 2005, Judi quickly became involved with the county Extension Homemakers and was elected county president the next year. When she accepted the leadership position, Terry joined as a mailbox member, receiving the county Homemaker newsletter. But he, too, quickly became involved teaching classes on basic photography, home repairs and hummingbirds. Through their classes, the Littles have been instrumental in attracting nontraditional audiences to the organization.
“This isn’t your mother’s Homemakers,” Terry Little said.
The Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association began in 1932 as the Kentucky Federation of Homemakers. The goal of the organization was to unify the efforts and strengthen the voice of Kentucky Homemakers while helping them develop leadership skills and broaden their horizons.
“As the KEHA state adviser since 2006, I am continually honored to see the spirit of leadership, service and education present in the organization,” said Kim Henken, assistant to the director of the UK School of Human Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture. “Across Kentucky, KEHA members have an impact in local communities. The impact extends beyond Kentucky to the projects they support around the world.”
Alice Brown from Greenup County was nicknamed “Mousy” until she joined Extension Homemakers nearly 30 years ago. She’s now president of the statewide organization.
“The leadership training helped me learn how the county government works,” she said. “Homemakers are not just a bunch of crafty ladies. They are involved in issues at community, state and national levels.”
While the organization has changed over the years, the Extension Homemakers have always emphasized family, community and leadership, Brown said.
They’ve also educated many people. Helen Eden, a Madison County Extension Homemaker, remembers going to Homemaker meetings with her mother in the 1950s.
“It was a great opportunity for women to learn,” she said. “I remember my mother getting materials on how to do a breast self-exam. That was unheard of in the 1950s.”
Extension Homemakers have donated items and money to a lot of worthy causes over the years including UK ovarian cancer research, the Kentucky Academy in Ghana and scholarships to students pursuing a degree in the UK School of Human Environmental Sciences.
“It continues to amaze me how willing people are to participate and give of themselves,” Terry Little said. “I believe in paying it forward, and a lot of that happens in Homemakers.”
The Extension Homemakers celebrated the milestone during their recent annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency and Lexington Convention Center. They also unveiled an 80th anniversary print by Kentucky artist John Ward.
Kim Henken, 859-257-3887