By Craig Baird For the Advance
Community groups have always been an important part of any community during its early years of growth. These groups help people come together for the greater good, building the community they loved.
In Botha, the Botha Women’s Institute began in 1915 with a membership of about 35 people. Lou Bassler served as the very first president and over the next few years membership continued to grow. By 1920, the membership had reached 65 women.
During those early years, the women met in a hall above the Botha Hardware Store. Membership to join the organization cost 25 cents and it stayed this way for many years. When the Botha Hall was built, and with a ladies restroom supplied in the basement, meetings were moved to the hall for a period of time. Eventually, the Botha Women’s Institute started meeting at the United Church.
Things were going well enough for the organization that in 1919, an AWI Girls Club was organized under the umbrella of the institute.
In the 1920s, the Women’s Institute created a travelling library to serve the people of the community. The women also collected clothing to provide for the less fortunate in the southern part of the province. The organization also gave scholarships to students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 for several years. In addition to all those causes, they also raised money for cancer campaigns, provided treats to people on Christmas, helped with the scouts and cubs and in 1924, even released a cookbook.
The women organized their first Grandmother’s Day on May 6, 1926, and that became a yearly tradition in the community. They also took over care of the Botha Woodland Cemetery for many years.
On the 50th anniversary of the organization in 1965 a book of memories was compiled and 10 years later, a Grandmother’s Day tea was held with 100 guests attending. A 70th anniversary was celebrated in 1985.
Even into the 1980s, the organization was donating gifts to the Michener Centre in Red Deer, the Camrose Women’s Shelter and the Ponoka Mental Hospital.
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Information for this column comes from Botha Memories.