Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Helen Dockery Inducted into ECA Hall of Fame

We have Hall of Fame awards for many of life’s accomplishments. There are Hall of Fame awards for sports, writers, actors, and the list goes on. I am proud to add one more Hall of Fame to the list- ECA Hall of Fame. ECA stands for Extension and Community Association. There are two ECA groups in Cherokee county. There are the Bizzy Bees ECA and the Grape Creek ECA. Helen Dockery, long standing member of the Grape Creek ECA has been a member for over forty years. She has recently received notification that she will be inducted into the North Carolina ECA Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Helen! Helen will receive her honor at the North Carolina state ECA meeting on May 25th in Raleigh. Helen has many fond memories of her years as an ECA member. She remembers the day when the Family and Consumer Science agent, then called the Home Agent, would travel throughout the county delivering programs to the ECA members. During the peak of ECA clubs in the county, there have been nine organizations. Gone but not forgotten are the clubs that have since disbanded:
Texana, Martin’s Creek, Sunrisers, Grape Creek Lady Volunteers, Peachtree, Ranger, and Valley Town. Programs from the home agent often covered life skills that could help improve conditions for the rural family. Everything from parenting skills to canning programs was delivered in local homes. Some of the programs were just for fun- such as making candles and mattresses and hat decorating. I imagine there were some fancy bonnets in the Easter Parade in Cherokee County some years back! Helen values the education that she received from the home agent and the ECA programs. Helen states that she is very proud and appreciative of the education that she received from Cooperative Extension. She attributes her knowledge and love of ECA to the county home agent, Miss Thelma Wheeler. “She made us want to do better,” states Helen as she fondly recalls the stern home agent. Her no nonsense approach to rural living helped the local families strive to improve their homes. Today we tend to take advantage of our indoor plumbing and screened windows and doors. Miss Wheeler, who had previously worked in Kentucky, pushed the local residents to strive for these two household amenities, if nothing else. Helen says that she remembers when most people did not have grass in their yards. I also remember my own mother talking about sweeping the front yard since there was no grass. Helen also recalls a conversation with Miss Wheeler. She warned Miss Wheeler that the rural residents of Cherokee County might not be quite as behind as Kentucky but our folks are mighty prideful!