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Club donates second bench for Persephone Park
Persephone donation
Members of the Persephone Guild gathered in Persephone Park on Thursday to check out the new bench they donated to the city park. Sitting on the bench are Bette Davis and Nawatha Reed. Standing in back are Linda Aycock, Tammy Kline, Nancy Johnson and Susan Simpson. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Persephone Park in east Ceres sports a new concrete bench thanks to the ladies of the club for which the park was named in 1982.

On Thursday members of the Persephone Guild presented the bench which was set on a concrete slab that was graded and poured by the city parks crew. The bench complements the first one the club dedicated in 2019 so that users of the park can rest and enjoy the green space on Lunar Drive. Because of vandalism done to the first bench in which an inset ceramic logo was pried out and stolen, the ladies ordered the new bench’s backrest to be cast with the words: “Persephone Guild of Ceres – Founded 1938 – Dedicated to Community Service.”

The bench, which cost just shy of $1,000, is one of a myriad of community service projects the ladies have engaged in.

The club is also in the process of donating $1,800 for two vests that will be worn to protect two Ceres Police canines. Two of the four canines within the department don’t have the vests which protect the dogs from bullets and knife attacks.

The Persephone Club was formed as a bridge club in 1931 by 10 women who had common interests, including the welfare of the community and their own enlightenment. Twenty-seven women belong to the organization but membership has been capped at 32.

Other service projects have included providing scholarships for two high school graduates at Ceres and Central Valley high schools each and one for Argus High School. The club also has knit doll clothes for children at the Children’s Crisis Center and assembling Thanksgiving food baskets for two to three families. The group also puts on a pasta dinner in April. The ladies have also knitted a quilt which will be raffled off on Dec. 8. Tickets are available by calling (209) 505-2439.

In the past the club was known for hosting the annual Strawberry Breakfast at Ceres High School from 1982 to 2002. The club has donated funds to renovate the Daniel Whitmore Home, contribute to help eradicate tuberculosis, Salvation Army Extension service camperships, American Field Service program, the Ceres Police Toys for Tots program, placement of bike route signs, trees around the Smyrna Park skate park, Thanksgiving food baskets for three needy families and the donation of frames for the art wall at the Ceres Community Center. The club also participated in the Ceres High Sober Grad Nite and the city’s first annual Trunk or Treat event.  

The group named itself after the Greek mythological character of Persephone, daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. The term “guild” is defined as “those working together for a common goal.” Meetings were held in members’ homes, so membership was limited to a size they felt could be accommodated easily. Today the club meets once per month at Harvest Presbyterian Church but sometimes at the Tuolumne River Lodge on River Road. Meetings typically include a guest speaker.

Member Linda Aycock joked that “the ladies seem to stay in it until you move or die.”

Charter members of Persephone Guild were: Mrs. Clarence Adams, Mrs. Leonard Anderson, Mrs. Boyce Ashford, Mrs. Wendel Aspinall, Mrs. C.W. Austin, Mary Lee Austin, Mrs. Joseph Berry, Mrs. Earl Brown, Mrs. Charles Crawford, Mrs. James Cunningham, Sarah Cuddy, Miss Anne Greunig, Mrs. Mel Guth, Mrs. Jack Haines, Evalyn Harding, Ann Haynes, Genelle Luckett, Jean Parks McKnight, Mrs. Bruce Miner, Mrs. Carl Miner, Mrs. James Murdock, Virginia Parks, Mrs. Clyde Prickett, Mrs. Hugh Prickett, Mrs. Lowell Roehr, Mrs. Arendt Rohde, Mrs. Arthur Simms, Elsie Turner, Lenabelle Turner, Mrs. Kenneth Wilson, and Mrs. Lewis Woodworth.