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Persephone Guild celebrates 80th anniversary
Ceres service club founded in 1938
Some long time members of Persephone with the 80th anniversary cake are: (left to right), Arleen Warn, Lu Caulton, Colleen Bergamaschi, Bettye Welsh, Mildred Lucas, and Laveta Rhoy. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Persephone Guild of Ceres is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

The Guild was founded in June of 1938 by a small group of young women in Ceres for the purpose of "social and recreational activity, the welfare of the community and Church, and their own enlightenment." At the first meeting 10 women were present. 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.

Over the years, the Persephone Guild has assisted the community with a large number of civic projects. During early years, the group contributed to causes such as the Lenabelle Turner scholarship, tuberculosis programs, Salvation Army Extension service camperships, and the American Field Service program at Ceres High School. The Guild has been a part of large community projects such as the renovation at Daniel Whitmore House, bike route signs, tree plantings in Smyrna Park, and the children's art wall at the Ceres Community Center. In 1982 the city park on Lunar Drive was named Persephone Park at the suggestion of the group. Currently the guild supports scholarships at both Ceres and Central Valley high schools, Ceres High Sober Grad Nite, food baskets at Thanksgiving, and the Ceres police toy drive, among other community welfare projects.

Funds for these projects have been raised in a variety of ways. Perhaps the Guild is best known for the Strawberry Breakfast which was held from 1982 through 2002. Also since about 1982, the group has made a quilt and sold tickets for a drawing to give it away. The Persephone Guild quilt was the first to be hung for display in the Ceres Community Center. This year Persephone held a pasta dinner to raise funds for its projects. Students from Ceres High helped with serving the guests and cleaning up. Over the past 80 years, there have been rummage and food sales, boutiques, fashion shows, and a variety of other fund raisers.

Members have enjoyed a diverse variety of social activities such as a white elephant gift exchange, featuring an actual white elephant statue, a brunch with spouses at the Tuolumne River Lodge, trips to a member's cabin, a cruise on Lake Don Pedro, bunco, and dressing up in Easter hats.

The members of the Persephone Guild are grateful for the support that they have always received from the Ceres community.

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, Mrs. C.L. 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, Mrs. Elton Turner, Miss Lenabelle Turner, Mrs. Kenneth Wilson, and Mrs. Lewis Woodworth.

Present at the first meeting were: Mrs. Jack Haines, Mrs. Bruce Miner, Mrs. Lloyd Parks, Mrs. C.W. Austin, Mrs. Lowell Roehr, Mrs. Lewis Woodworth, Mrs. Charles Crawford, Mrs. James Murdock, Ann Haynes, and Evalyn Harding. At the second meeting of the group, Mrs. Jack Haines was elected the first president.