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Rebeccas group seeks new members


Community organization struggles as current members become elderly, less active

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Members of Estacadas Rebeccas group pose for a picture in 1999. Many of them have since passed away. In the 30 years that she lived in Estacada, Margaret Smida was active in the local Rebeccas group. She still is, even though she's moved to Wilsonville.

But over the years, Smida has watched many members come and go. Some have died. Others have become less active in the group as they face the challenges associated with becoming elderly.

“For a couple of years, we lost four of our members for two years in a row, I think it was,” Smida said. “That really hurts.”

The issues facing the Rebeccas group are not unique, as similar community groups throughout the nation struggle to fill the void left by the loss of longtime members. Replacing those members becomes increasingly difficult as potential younger recruits juggle the responsibilities of work and raising their families.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Virgil and Pauline Nelson, Gertie Abnert and Pearl Taylor represent the group in this picture, which was taken last year. All are in their 90s.  The Rebeccas group is the female equivalent of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which started in Estacada back in 1904.

“They used to come in a horse and buggy,” Smida said.

Smida originally became involved with the Rebeccas while living in Iowa and joined the local chapter in 1989.

The group still has around 28 members and donates regularly to the food bank and the Estacada Community Center. But Smida, who serves as its treasurer, remembers any number of other activities it used to do.

“We need help,” she said. “We ask people, but they’re too busy.”

Members used to teach children with health issues to ride horses at a facility in Scotts Mills. That doesn’t happen anymore.

“We got really down on funds at one point and had to stop,” Smida said. “I would like to see us get back into stuff like that.”

Meetings used to be held twice a month, and that’s now down to one.

“They were doing fine. We used to have so many members,” Smida said. “But they’re all getting older.”

Many of the group’s remaining members are less mobile than they used to be, which makes it harder for them to participate in community activities. As a result, a small handful ends up taking on additional roles and responsibilities to make up the difference.

“That’s kind of where we are right now,” Smida said. “People have to make time for things like that. Sometimes it’s not always that easy and you realize that, especially when they were active members.”

The Rebeccas will have their next meeting on at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Odd Fellows hall in Estacada. Anyone interested in joining the group is welcome to attend.