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July 20, 2001

The bi-monthly newsletter published by the RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) goes to those mostly anonymous volunteer men and women who do so much in Perry, Enid and throughout north-central Oklahoma. It’s an interesting little four-page 8 ½ x 11 publication and, among others, it is distributed to folks who serve in various recognized, non-profit fields of endeavor. In Perry that includes those who provide weekly hair care for residents of our two nursing homes, assist at the hospital and in other ways contribute a great deal of time and effort in service to their fellow men and women.. Each issue of the newsletter spotlights one individual as “a special volunteer.” The July-August newsletter puts that focus on Olivia McNeil of Perry, and they could not have found a more worthy person to honor.

The newsletter tells that Mrs. McNeil has lived in Noble county all her life, except for two years during World War II when she worked at an aircraft factory in Wichita. “In more recent years,” the publication relates, “Olivia has donated many hours of service to the Perry community and currently volunteers at the Cherokee Strip Museum in Perry where she greets visitors and offers information about the Cherokee Strip area. She also volunteers at her church and has previously donated time at the nursing homes. As a member of the local chapter of the GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs), she assists with fund-raising for the library.” (Olivia is a member of the GFWC Progress club, which holds an annual benefit at the library.) The article concludes, “Olivia is a great example of ‘lifelong learning’…. She learned to swim at the age of 74!”

Speaking of our local women, it’s interesting to note that both the Rotary and Lions clubs have been headed by a couple of capable and energetic young ladies the past year. Carolyn Briegge has completed her term as president of the Lions club, where her dad, Gene Wood, is a stalwart member, and Lois Malget has ended her year at the helm of the Rotary club. As a member of the latter organization, I can attest to the excellent service provided by Lois, and I also know that Carolyn did the same for the Lions. Carolyn was the first of her gender to be handed the Lions gavel, while the Rotarians broke the ice by installing Donna Occhipinti Yost as president for 1994-95. The local Rotary club newsletter points out that women were first admitted to the international organization in 1987 and they are now the fastest-growing segment of Rotary’s membership. Congratulations to Lois and Carolyn, and belatedly to Donna, for the completion of their year in what used to be an all-male field.