On April 25, Mary Lou Wilson was installed as the president of the provincial chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE).
Wilson, who is also president of Lacombe’s local IODE chapter, said she knows the new position will likely come with a lot of responsibility, but she is looking forward to it all the same.
“I’m new at the job, I know that it’s probably going to be a lot of work, but I am looking forward to it, yes,” said Wilson. “It will be nice to really feel a part of things.”
Wilson said that prior to becoming the provincial president, she had already served on the provincial executive for a number of years in different capacities and in 2012 received a provincial life membership. She said that other members of the executive had been after her to work her way through the ranks and become president for some time but other commitments prevented her from pursuing that goal until now.
As president of the provincial chapter, Wilson acts as a liaison between the provincial chapter and the national chapter. She is also responsible for coordinating between all the local chapters within Alberta and acts as a representative for the IODE, attending many of the functions throughout the year for initiatives the IODE supports.
Wilson joined Lord Lascells chapter, the local Lacombe IODE chapter 37 years ago when she first moved here. She said she didn’t know very many people in town and the one woman she did know was a member of the IODE who invited her to a meeting.
“I’ve been there ever since,” said Wilson, with a laugh. She added that joining the club played a large role in helping her settle in Lacombe and get connected with the community.
Since then, Wilson has made a lot of friends in the community through the IODE. She added she has also really come to appreciate the programs and projects the organization supports.
There are a number of initiatives the IODE supports including education, healthcare and social services. Wilson said it is important to support things like these because they don’t always have the resources they need.
“A lot of these programs are not supported as well as they could be by the government. They need extra help, so that’s why we do it.”
One of Wilson’s top priorities as president of the provincial chapter is to increase recruitment. She said the IODE, like many service clubs, has a problem with dwindling numbers as some members are getting too old to take on the responsibilities they used to.
“I mean, I’m no young chick anymore either,” said Wilson. “A lot of the members are well into their 80s and it’s a struggle to get new ladies.”
Wilson said that some potential new recruits might be overwhelmed by what might be expected of them. She said some say they don’t have the time, but the IODE only meets once a month.
More than that though, Wilson said that she thinks a lot of people simply don’t know enough about IODE. Some people have never heard of the club or if they do, know little about what the group actually does, she added. Therefore, Wilson said that she hopes to increase the club’s exposure hoping that it generates more interest in the IODE and leads to more recruits at all levels.
“There’s a lot of new people moving to Lacombe these days and they probably haven’t heard of it, haven’t a clue what we do. That applies locally and across Canada.”
Lord Lascells chapter meets at 7:30 p.m. every fourth Tuesday at St. Andrew’s United Church. For more information about the IODE, contact Mary Lou Wilson at 403-782-3923.