For so many decades those hardy farm women from throughout our county districts have spent many busy days and countless lonely hours tending to their families and their homes while their husbands were at their jobs or out in the fields amongst the cattle and the crops. When their daily endless chores were done and before the kids came home from school, there might be a little time for them to read a book or watch a favourite soap, but then again these ambitious ladies loved to visit with other wives, mothers, and friends from in and around the districts. Whether it was sewing a quilt, singing their favourite songs, planning the annual weekend picnic or Christmas concert at the community hall or just sharing their weekly adventures, the coffee was always on, the toddlers were put down for a nap, and these delightful get-togethers always added just a little spice to their hectic lives.
It was here on the rugged prairies where many congenial district clubs and organizations were born, longstanding friendships were created, and countless family and district functions and fundraisers were organized, not only for the camaraderie and enjoyment of the districts, but also to welcome newcomers and assist others who may be a little down on their luck.
The Seafield Social Workers
When Mr. Ray Scott presented the coveted Rita Scott Annual Volunteer Award to a very gracious group of Seafield Social Workers last week during a ceremony at the Centennial Centre, it honoured several generations of ambitious Seafield club members for over 90 years of compassionate and dedicated service to the county districts and Town of Ponoka.
The Seafield School District was formed south east of Ponoka in 1902 by early pioneers Mr. Page, Mr. Christie, Mr. Ratledge and Mr. Slater. The first school was built and opened in 1903 on a piece of ground donated by the Christie family, and was named Seafield after a private school in England, which had been run by the local builder’s oldest brother John. Shortly after the United Farmers of Alberta government swept into power in 1921, a meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Howard Russell, at which time the Seafield UFWA #299 was formed, with founding members including Mrs. Howard Russell, Mrs. Martin Bednar, Mrs. Walter Batson, Mrs. Eddy Martin and Mrs. Harold Stretch. Revitalization of the UFA occurred in 1949, after which it became known as the Farmers’ Union of Alberta, to which the ladies’ group also reorganized. In June of 1952, this organization disbanded and the group became known as the Seafield Social Workers, which quickly proved to be a very successful decision for the club from a humanitarian standpoint, as well as being the focal social point of the district.
For many years, the Seafield group has been represented on the Ponoka General Hospital Auxiliary since its inception, on the Ladies’ Rest Room Committee, the Cemetery Association, and the Ponoka and District Horticultural and Agricultural Society. The ongoing and proud legacy of the Seafield Social Workers over a span of countless decades has benefited so many age groups, organizations, and special causes in and around the County and Town of Ponoka, and these very friendly and feisty ladies have no intention of slowing down. Their years of donations , working bingos, and hundreds of hours of volunteer service have enabled them to support such local groups and causes as The Ponoka Elementary School, the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, the AHP Santa’s Anonymous, the local FCSS Diabetes and Cancer drives, the Community Christmas Dinner, Cystic Fibrosis, Bowl for Kids, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Big Brothers/Sisters, Operation Eyesight, Notions for Cawes, the Ponoka Youth Centre Summer Program, the local MS program, the Wheelchair Society, the St. Augustine’s Good Samaritan Fund, and on and on. The Seafield Social Workers of yesterday and today will always be forever grateful for the wonderful support from so many people in our county and town for all the fundraisers and projects that the busy club has organized over the years.
The club currently has 18 to 25 active members, and in what has always been a tradition right from the beginning, they meet at each other’s homes once a month (new members are always welcome), and they attribute their longstanding successes to being a fun bunch of good friends who all pitch in and work together no matter the task might be. Along the way, they have always maintained a strong spirit and purpose of being able to vigorously fundraise to support so many vital community projects as well as to assist fellow families and citizens who have been victims of fires, illnesses and other setbacks, to set up trust funds for children who have lost their parents, and so much more.
As well as monthly birthday and card parties, potluck suppers and the annual Christmas party, to which the husbands and families are usually invited, the Seafield ladies also host many unique and special occasions throughout the year. Among the year-round highlights of this very busy club is their annual gala community fund raiser in April, which has been going on for 25 years, when everyone gathers at the farm home of Linda and Neil Cunnington. The delightful social function features a live auction, bake sale, basket draws, pot-luck lunch, and a whole lot more, with over $6,500 raised in 2014, where generous guests paid up to $55 for their favourite pie or chocolate cake. Some of the Seafield ladies also gather together to fashion magnificent quilts (16 so far this year), which are given away to those who may need them, or raffled off to support more special community causes. In recognition of their many years of service to the community, the Seafield Social Workers were very excited and honored to see 43 Street south, beginning at Highway 53 recently renamed to Seafield Road. We congratulate them for their successes and for their ongoing proud and dedicated efforts to serve their community.