Meadow Ridge Residents Help Associate Reach Educational Goals
Meadow Ridge residents Lynn Scott and Louise Dages are helping women of subsequent generations make the most of their educational opportunities, including a Meadow Ridge aide who needed financial support to complete her nursing studies.
Both women are long-time members of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O. International), one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America. The P.E.O. Sisterhood’s mission is to promote educational opportunities for the advancement of women and help them “reach for the stars.”
A serendipitous encounter.
P.E.O. has many chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada, including two area chapters represented by Meadow Ridge residents. Louise was on her way to a P.E.O. meeting when she began talking to an aide who was helping her during recovery from hip surgery.
“I told her we are an organization that helps women further their education, and we have six different projects,” said Louise, who moved to Meadow Ridge almost six years ago. “She said, ‘Oh, I’m taking nursing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Do you think there would be anything for me?’”
It turned out there was: a Program for Continuing Education grant, and Louise, who has been involved with the organization since 1995, served on the committee.
P.E.O.’s long history of helping women.
P.E.O. was formed in 1869 by students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Since its founding, P.E.O. and its members have helped more than 100,000 women pursue their educational goals by providing almost $400 million in grants, scholarships, awards and loans.
Lynn, who moved to Meadow Ridge about three years ago from a Gainesville, Fla. chapter, says P.E.O. members must be invited into the international organization.
A perfect candidate.
The Meadow Ridge aide helped by Louise had moved to the U.S. from South America with her family as a teen. She graduated from Danbury High School, then enrolled at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury to take English as a second language (ESL) and nursing aide classes.
She started at Meadow Ridge in the housekeeping department and advanced to a nursing aide while continuing her nursing education. At one point, it became necessary for her to leave school for a time.
That made her a suitable candidate for the grant: An applicant must have a gap of at least 24 months in her education, be recommended by a P.E.O. member and show financial need.
Other P.E.O. continuing education grant requirements.
Recipients of P.E.O. grants must also:
- Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States or Canada.
- Be enrolled in a certification or degree program from an accredited institution.
- Be within 18 consecutive months of completing her educational program.
- Be enrolled in an education program that will lead to employment or job advancement.
The grant process can take several months to complete. The maximum award for this grant is $3,000, and Lynn explains that the funds can be used for tuition, books, supplies, fees, transportation, childcare, uniforms or equipment.
The aide, who was in her junior year when she applied for the grant, completed her studies in 2019. She was hired at Danbury Hospital just before the pandemic and was assigned to a COVID unit when it hit.
“I guess that was quite an experience for her,” Louise says, adding, “She’s done very well, and we’re very proud of her.”