Meadville Tribune

August 29, 2013

Center For Family Services celebrating 150 years

Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — What do the Battle of Gettysburg, the 150th Bucktails’ “Muster in the Park” and the Center For Family Services have in common?

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, in which the 150th fought. The year 1863 is also when a group of Meadville women saw that families of soldiers away fighting the war were without food and clothing.

The soldiers’ pay was sporadic in coming back to Meadville at best, so this group of women organized and collected foodstuffs and clothing and distributed them to needy families in Meadville. Because of the war, there were also widows and orphans who had no means of support.

This group of women also had blanket drives and collected foodstuffs, soap, bandages and socks and sent them to the soldiers fighting the Civil War. Thus was born the Home Relief Society.

The Center for Family Services traces its roots back to these pioneering women and celebrates 150 years of existence this year.

A few years after its founding, the Home Relief Society also provided needy families with wood to supply heat in the winter. All it asked was that the men come and cut the wood and take it home. For the first 15 years, women did everything, then men were admitted and the Home Relief Society expanded its outreach. Since its first director was named in 1894, there have been only seven directors of the agency, all of them women.

Today, the Center For Family Services continues its heritage of providing not only food, clothing and fuel to families in need in all of Crawford County. It also provides classes for parents, counseling for homeowners and renters, and a variety of services that meet the basic needs of local families.

In celebration of its joint history, the center will have a display in the Crawford County Historical Society’s tent depicting the past and present services of the agency. Because the Center for Family Services and the Bucktails share so much history, a $150 gas card has been donated and chances to win it can be purchased at the center’s table on Saturday and at the registration table on Sunday.

All proceeds will be divided between the Bucktails, for its monument restoration, and the Center for Family Services to continue to assist the families of Crawford County.