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Vontella McEndollar of the Wheatland Home and Community Education Unit was recently awarded with a Certificate of Recognition for 63 years of membership in the Fayette County Home and Community Education organization.
The certificate, signed by the Fayette County HCE President Flo Allen, also recognized her for 48 years of perfect attendance, an awesome accomplishment, considering she was a wife, homemaker and mother of two during those early years.
She also received a certificate from the Illinois Association of HCE (IAHCE) in recognition of 63 years of membership, signed by Marilyn Daughhetee, IAHCE president, and Sandra Bechtold, second vice president.
Meet 88-year-old Vontella McEndollar, a notable representative of the organization that has endured, grown and served homes, families and communities for many years.
The Early Years
A charter member of Wheatland Unit HCE, Vontella McEndollar has program books dating back to 1948. The Wheatland Unit was organized on June 23, 1948, and was called the Wheatland Home Bureau Busy Bears.
She has served in all of the unit’s offices and also on the Fayette County HCE Board.
She thinks the monthly lessons have changed a lot over 63 years.
She recalls the sewing lessons of years ago, when members made coats and purses. She still thinks those, and the leather crafts, were “some of the best.”
She still has some of the some of the leather purses, etched metal trays and wooden trays (decorated with colored pencils and shellacked).
The Wheatland Unit, she said, served lunch at a lot of local farm and household auctions in the past as fundraisers for the unit.
Those Years at Home
Vontella and her husband, Kenneth McEndollar, had two children: a daughter, Merna McEndollar Manley, and a son, Doyle, who died in 2004.
Merna said that in later years, her dad, managed to take her mother to the HCE meetings. Kenneth died in February 2006.
Merna recalled that she used to accompany her mother to the meetings when she was a little girl, and when old enough, was a member of the Wheatland Unit until she moved away.
Due to her health, Vontella has decided to drop out of HCE, but said she will always cherish the friends and experience she has had with the club.
She was very surprised by the recent honors she received.
HCE Brief History
In early 1947, the secretary of the Farm Bureau, Lillian Gurtner, suggested the possibility of organizing a Home Bureau in Fayette County to Mrs. F.M. McDonald.
Meetings were scheduled and plans were made to organize, with 74 registering of the 500 names needed to organize. With expert advice from the University of Illinois, dues were set at $5 a year, and belief and an enthusiastic approach to the project.
The club was organized and grew in units and membership.
The Fayette County HCE now has approximately 120 members and seven units: Bingham-Ramsey, Sefton, St. Elmo, St. Peter, Vandalia Day, Wheatland and Wright’s Corner.
Members are serving their homes, communities and many other worthy causes, sharing useful and valuable information through their monthly lessons, and they still affiliated with the University of Illinois.
The second week of October is proclaimed National HCE Week.