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Eastern Star chapter turns 100
It's a rare thing now-a-days for an organization to last 100 years. But the Ceres Chapter 296 of the Order of Eastern Star is now officially a century old.

Easter Star is part of the Masonic Lodge but primarily an organization for the wives, widows, daughters and sisters of Masons to impart Masonic principles to live by. The Ceres Masons and Eastern Star members celebrated on Saturday, April 17 with a luncheon at the Ceres Community Center. The event drew about 150 persons and featured an historical display, lunch, speeches and visits by state Worthy Grand Matron Beverly Wade of Southern California and California Worthy Patron Larry Coffin.

The chapter started officially as the Wisteria Chapter in Turlock on Sept. 24, 1910, while the Smyrna Chapter was instituted on Aug. 18, 1923. The two chapters later consolidated in 1993, to become the Ceres chapter.

"It's a great service organization and we help a lot of people," said Julie Jones, Worthy Matron, or president, of the Ceres chapter. "It's not just our membership we help but it's also the community we help."

Jones joined Eastern Star 38 years ago and the Ceres chapter in 1997. It was only natural that she join since five generations of her family has belonged.

Years ago the Masons mostly attracted affluent people in the community. Today, however, persons from all walks of life and social status are members.

The Smyrna chapter has about 127 members, of which approximately 80 percent resident within Ceres. The youngest member is 18 and the oldest will be 100 this December. Sarah Cuddy, a long-time Ceres resident is a member and approaching age 94.

As part of the national organization, Jones said the Ceres chapter has contributed to the Johnson Cancer project at Stanford Medical Center. Members help support the Ceres Relay for Life fundraiser, and members make mastectomy pillows, lap robes slippers and hats for cancer patients at cancer patient comfort stations.

"We've given away millions to the cancer fund," said Jones.

The organization also takes care of its aging members by offering its own senior living facility in Yorba Linda. The group also has a toll-free phone line, 1 (800) STAR CASE to assist its members to be placed in quality homes in their area.

In July the club will be inviting Ceres police officers and firefighters to a barbecue, said Jones. In September the Eastern Star and Masonic lodge will be hosting an auction fundraiser at the Ceres Community Center.

"We're trying to become more known in the community," Jones noted.

The group meets at the Ceres Masonic Lodge at the corner of Third and North streets on the first and third Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. Meetings include an opening, business, introductions and good of order and lasts about 90 minutes.