Jeanette Langford of Portsmouth has been honored as the 42nd Grand Worthy Matron of the Amaranth Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star for the state of Ohio, the black arm of the Order. A recognition banquet was held in August, with 350-400 people present at the Scioto County Welcome Center.
“When you come into that administration there are things that you are challenged to do to move the organization forward,” Langford said. “We started out some years ago with 104 chapters. The Order of the Eastern Store and the Masonic Order is much like other organizations, the younger people don’t quite see the importance of the organization, so we now have 42 chapters around the state and one of my challenges is to come up with a strategy to sustain what we have and hopefully reclaim some of those lost chapters.”
Langford has charities she works with including local, state and international charities.
“I challenged every chapter around the state to ring the bells for the Salvation Army, so we completed that in December,” Langford said. “I wanted to make sure that we do something that benefits our communities. They found out they really enjoyed it and want to do it again next year.”
Langford said, when the chapters receive the totals, they will be challenged to increase the number of days they ring the bells next year.
Another local organization Langford is involved with is Sojourner House Transitional and the chapter is in the process of raising money for SOMC hospice. ‘It does so much for people,” Langford said.
“When I was a teenager the Eastern Star had a youth organization that was called the Girls Assembly,” Langford said. “We do still have that organization around the state, but they’ve kind of lost some of their participation. I’m trying to revitalize that because I plan to bring back Girls Assembly here in our city. Girls need mentoring and that’s what the organization has been. I believe some of who I am and how I feel about myself, my community, family, some of that was instilled in me when I was in Girls Assembly.”
Some of the things the statewide organization plans to accomplish include Women of Hope, based in Cleveland.
“It is a women’s shelter for homeless female veterans,” Langford said. “We talk the veterans and the challenges they have, but I don’t hear a lot about the female veterans who are out there struggling. I really got a look at their struggles when I was invited to visit this shelter.”
She said or Order is also going to be doing a state blood drive in March or April.
“Internationally, we’re going to build a water cistern in the Congo,” Langford said. “I’m working with an organization that has built a clinic there. It’s for a group and it’s so unique because we can touch the people that are actually involved.”
It is made up of people whose family members are still in the Congo.
‘They were refugees that were, through the civil wars, just moved and every place they would go they could never get a safe place to live,” Langford said. “They were terrorized and they finally found a safe place.”
Langford said the group started a village for their relatives in the Congo and they do fund raising to help the cause.
“They started first by building a clinic and then they raised enough money for solar power to put in the clinic,” Langford said.
A young man involved in the project told her they were attempting to get water to the village. While the original plan was to build a well, but based on where they are, it was not feasible.
“What they did determine is that it rains eight months out of the year there, so with a water cistern they could store the water and filter it so they would have enough water to last them a year,” Langford said. “I thought – this was meant to be.”
They are also going to build a three-room school in Ghana which Langford says they can do for $10,000 because of the difference in the valuation of the dollar in that region.
Langford has been in the order of the Eastern Star for over 40 years. Now she is at the pinnacle of that order, being the top executive for the state of Ohio. She will hold that position for two years.
Is she excited about the new title?
“I get excited when I talk about what we need to do, but for me it’s just every day work,” Langford said. “To me its just the things I need to do. I guess I don’t feel any different about myself.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.