Relief Society exhibit lauds service efforts

The service projects of Relief Society sisters in Southern California during last year's sesquicentennial celebration were recapped in a recent display at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center.

About 30 quilts and numerous hand-made items were exhibited during the March display, demonstrating the countless hours of service by Relief Society sisters during the organization's 150th anniversary year. Nile Sorensen of the Los Angeles Temple presidency described their efforts as "service unparalleled in the history of Relief Society in Southern California."About 1,000 women visited the 25-stake display each of the two evenings it was held and viewed a multi-media display.

A brief, unexpected visit to the display was made by Chieko N. Okazaki, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, who was on assignment to the area. The visitors center staff had informed the Relief Society general presidency of the exhibit and its accompanying events.

Kit Poole, assistant chairwoman of the event, said an estimated 10,000 quilts and hundreds of hand-made items were made by the women of Relief Society during the organization's 150th anniversary year for most of the major service agencies in Southern California.

She related that in late fall 1992, the staff of the Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center sent a questionnaire to every stake Relief Society president in Southern California. The presidents were asked what service their wards had been involved in during the year, how many quilts and other items had been made, how many hours of service were given and what agencies they had worked for.

"The response to the questionnaire was tremendous," Sister Poole said. "It was a humbling experience reading the responses. I was overwhelmed with the acts of service the sisters had performed in their communities."

Loui Keeney, Los Angeles California Stake Relief Society president, who was in charge of setting up and maintaining the display, listed some of the services given during the sesquicentennial year:

"Relief Society sisters made hundreds of cloth bags containing toiletries for battered women, bibs for people who are retarded, layettes for babies, toys for abused children, and snuggle blankets for abused children who are picked up by the police." She added that in her stake, women presented parenting classes to single unwed mothers.

The service enhanced relations with other churches and organizations in the area, Sister Keeney noted. Projects were done for the Catholic Covenants House, the Presbyterian Alliance in Orange County, Beth Ariel Temple, the Salvation Army, interfaith shelters, Melodyland Health Center, and many other organizations.

Viva May Wilcox, chairwoman of the display, commented, "The purpose of the display was to motivate the sisters to greater works in the community."

Sister Wilcox, wife of Elder Keith W. Wilcox, director of the visitors center, added: "Members have seen what other stakes have done and this will give them new impetus. This is just the beginning of a great outpouring of service."

An original painting, done in honor of the sesquicentennial by artist Reuben De Anda of the Chula Vista California Stake, was prominently displayed at the exhibit. The painting depicted a Relief Society woman holding the Relief Society emblem high. She is surrounded by the Relief Society leaders of the past, including Emma Smith, and the present Chula Vista Relief Society president, Virginia Taylor. Etched lightly as a background to the painting are the names of the young women of the stake who may be the future leaders of Relief Society.

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