Bucks County Extension Homemaker’s Club celebrates long history

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Current members of the Bucks County WEFS group celebrate the group’s 30-year history, as president Florence Cook is honored.

The Bucks County WEFS group, “Women of Extension for Fun and Fellowship,” is disbanding this fall after 60+ years of service.

Bucks County Extension traditionally had oversight over dozens of homemaker’s clubs that were established in the early 1940s to provide informal education to homemakers in the county. At one time, there was a homemaker’s club located in every township of Bucks County. They were part of Penn State Extension, and educational programs presented by the Bucks County Extension home economist were disseminated through these club meetings, reaching a large number of families in the county.

Topics included food preservation, nutrition, home management, sewing, budgeting, and much more. Members learned to cane chairs, upholster furniture, make slipcovers, and even make mattresses. It was a time when people were expected to be self-sufficient and to make do, often with very little. These groups also helped develop leadership skills among the women involved.

Three decades ago, the existing Bucks County homemaker’s clubs merged into one club – the WEFS group. It had over 200 members at that time, and elected Florence Cook as the group president. Florence has continued to serve in that leadership role for the last 30 years. Her association with Extension actually goes back 57 years to when she became a 4-H leader.

The last charter member of WEFS, Esther Smith, passed away this year at age 98. The number of members who are able to attend the meetings has diminished, and the group decided to close this chapter of Bucks County history by disbanding the WEFS group this fall.

“These Extension Homemaker’s groups played a major role in supporting farm wives, and all women across the county since the 1940s,” according to Nancy Stevens, district director. “Bucks County Extension women, especially farm wives, were somewhat isolated, and these clubs gave them an opportunity to socialize and learn how to stretch their budget and provide a better quality of life for their families. They were amazingly resourceful, and gained skills and knowledge that has been passed down for generations.”

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