Margaret Stewart passionate about mission of P.E.O.

Published 10:58 am Thursday, May 20, 2010

Margaret Stewart has professional modeling experience to her credit, so when the Troy Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Chapter was enlisting models for its Spring into Summer Fashion Show and Luncheon on Saturday, May 22, she didn’t hesitate to volunteer.

“I’m excited because the fashion show is an opportunity for women to learn about P.E.O. and what we do to provide educational opportunities for women,” Stewart said. “Several people have asked me, ‘What is P.E.O. and what do you do?’ The fashion show and luncheon is a way to let people know about us.”

When Stewart moved to Troy in 1996, she was returning to Southeast Alabama where she had deep roots in the small town of Clio.

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Being away from home for many years, Stewart had found the world to be a big place filled with many opportunities. Although she was anxious to return to home grounds, there were things that she would miss. One of those things was the P.E.O. to which she belonged in Kansas.

“The P.E.O. is one of the most worthwhile organizations that I have even belonged to,” Stewart said. “It’s a national sisterhood where women celebrate the advancement of women, educate women through scholarships, grants, awards and loans and stewardship of the Cottey College in Missouri. The members are very passionate about the mission of P.E.O. which promotes educational opportunities for women and that is very important to me on a personal level.”

When Stewart moved to Troy, she was disappointed that there was no P.E.0. organization.

So, when the Troy P.E.O. chapter was organized it 2003, Stewart transferred her membership from Kansas and became a charter member of the local chapter.

“I was once again involved in an organization that makes a difference in the lives of women,” Stewart said. “The sisterhood has six philanthropies that include ownership of a two-year women’s college and five programs that provide higher educational assistance.”

Stewart said those programs are the Educational Loan Fund, which assists women in securing a higher education; the International Peace Scholarship, which provides scholarships for international women students to pursue graduate studies in the United States and Canada; and the Program for Continuing Education, which provides need-based grants to women in the U.S. and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and/or their families.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards provide substantial merit-based awards for women in the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree or are engaged in postdoctoral research at an accredited college, university or institution.

The Star Scholarship, which was recently established, provides scholarships for exceptional high school senior women to attend an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the U.S. or Canada in the next academic year.

The Troy P.E.O. Chapter is raising funds to help support the programs of P.E.O., with the first Spring into Summer Fashion Show and Luncheon at 11 a.m. on Saturday May 22 at Park Memorial United Methodist Church.

Tickets are $10 each and are available through today at First Impressions, Renee’s Boutique, The Pink Parlor, Home Gallery, The Pines and The Messenger.