By BRENNA GRITEMAN
A 100-year-old service agency with an eye toward literacy is marking its 90th birthday in Findlay, with 13 members receiving pins for completing the centennial challenge “100 for 100.”
Findlay Altrusa Club members completing 100 service hours within the community, as part of an Altrusa International 100-year campaign, were Judy Bell, Deb Foster, Carlton Fruth, Ardith Green, Kendra James, Karen Knaur, Cindy Lininger, Sue Nichols, Gwen Pahl, Laurie Ulm, Beth Wenner, Deb Wickerham and Fran Williams.
After lending a hand with various projects in the past, Ulm officially joined the local Altrusa chapter in 2006. She said she enjoys being part of a club that works to improve Findlay and Hancock County.
“I stay involved because it’s a great group of people who enjoy helping others,” Ulm said. “We actively serve others and have fun doing it.”
Marie Thomas is wrapping up a two-year term as club president. She explained the group is made up of a lot of retired teachers, though members’ ages vary.
The organization is focused on literacy, and the club recently donated anti-bullying books to every elementary school library in Hancock County. The club has set up lending libraries at 50 North and City Mission, and several members volunteer at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library and the Mazza Museum. Members have also loomed hats and provided assistance with the Coats for Christmas project.
An annual scholarship is provided to one or two Hancock County students pursuing a literacy- or service-focused degree.
Thomas said she has belonged to service organizations most of her life and joined the club in 2013 as a way to give back. Along the way she’s found plenty of opportunities to stay busy.
“It’s a fun group. We do have a lot of fun,” she said.
Jean Disher has been an active member of the Findlay Altrusa Club for 55 years. In May 2016 she was presented with an Emeritus Statues Award from the Altrusa District Five. At a recent club meeting she earned her 50-plus-year pin.
Fresh out of college, Disher was invited to join the club in 1963 while working as the home economist for the Western Division of the Ohio Power Co. She has held various offices in the club through the years — including three terms as president — and has attended international Altrusa conventions in Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Despite her travels, Disher said what she’s liked best is service a little closer to home.
“Belonging to Altrusa has been a wonderful experience for me. I got to know many of the community members that I would never have gotten to know and worked with them on service projects through the years,” she said.
Some of those community members include Myrtle Deming, former dean of women at Findlay College, for whom Deming Hall is named; Findlay College professors Ruthanna Frack and Helen Reimund; Nellie Grose from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co.; Helen Frost, manager of the American Automobile Association; Helen Coldren and Ruth Derr from Coldren Crates Funeral Home; and Virginia Woodbury of Mrs. Woodbury’s Nursey School.
Mary Klein moved to Findlay last September and was introduced to the club by her insurance agent, who knew of Klein’s interest in literacy advocacy. She said she was “drawn to this group because it is a way to learn about my new community and it affords the opportunity to contribute to a variety of dedicated service agencies.”
The Findlay Altrusa Club meets twice a month. Business meetings are held the first Monday of the month, and a program or speaker is presented the third Wednesday.
To learn more about the club or to join, message the club through Facebook or call Thomas at 419-308-3869.