MATTOON — The Mattoon Panhellenic Club has been celebrating its centennial this fall while continuing its new scholarship program for women in national Greek letter sororities at Eastern Illinois University.
The club was founded in 1919 when Mrs. J.C. Dole invited area sorority women to attend an organizational meeting in her Mattoon home. The 22 charter members represented 13 Greek sororities and seven universities.
Mattoon Panhellenic recently received a plaque in recognition of its 100 years of dedication and loyalty to both the Alumnae Panhellenic and the National Panhellenic Conference.
Club President Susan Riggert, an Alpha Delta Gamma alumna from Southern Illinois University, said one of the major reasons for the group's existence has been to provide scholarships for area women.
"The Greek life was an important thing in our lives. We like to recognize current Greek members and help them financially," said Club Treasurer Marcia Parker, a Delta Zeta alumna from Eastern.
In academic years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, Mattoon Panhellenic awarded scholarships worth $1,000 each to women who were active members of national Greek letter sororities at Eastern.
"We are pretty proud of that," said club Secretary Jane Perry, who is a Delta Gamma alumna from the University of Illinois. The club's EIU scholarship program is now entering its third year and accepting applications.
Mattoon Panhellenic members have always carried out the club's scholarship goals while periodically gathering together to socialize. Perry said, basically, "socializing is a founding principle" of the club.
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The club's history reports that Mrs. Dole envisioned a group that would get women in "closer touch with each other in a social way" while working on their charitable causes.
For many years, Mattoon Panhellenic women met in the homes of club members to share a meal or dessert and to listen to a guest speaker. In more recent years, club members held a salad supper in their homes twice a year and an annual catered, themed dinner.
Riggert said many of the club's gatherings were in the home of longtime member Leffel Elmore, who passed away in 1995.
"She was very instrumental in keeping the club going," Riggert said.
Today, the club meets three times a year for two luncheon meetings and for one evening dinner social with guests. For the past few years, the club has met at the Mattoon Golf and Country Club.
The club's membership currently stands at 26 women representing 14 sororities and eight universities. Riggert said she enjoys getting to spend time with these women, who span different age groups.
"It's a great group of women. It really is," Riggert said.
More information about the group is available at the Mattoon Panhellenic Club's page on Facebook.