Posted on August 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM by Global Reach
To quote Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” By this standard, the Decatur County community can be deemed “great” through the loyalty, service, and leadership of Hope Mendenhall. 4-H creates the opportunity to make a difference on a local level, to which Hope accepted the responsibility with excitement and determination.
Hope has the drive, quick-mind, and relentlessness dedication of a fortune 100 CEO. Luckily for the local community, these skills were channeled into 4-H and living the club’s values for over 67 years. Hope found following the 4-H motto to be a way to lead her commitment to the community. In 1953, at age 24 with no children of her own, she was asked if she would help organize a new club in the area and be the leader. The answer was a resounding “YES!” She never looked back from this commitment. Coupled with her resourcefulness, creativity and lead by example style, she helped organize three clubs for girls, served as club leader for 16 years along with being a member of the extension council. Many of these original 4-H members became club leaders later in life. After Hope retired as a club leader, she helped judge achievement shows for over 20 years.
Hope encouraged her children to be active in 4-H to learn, volunteer, and be passionate about whatever their level of involvement. She continued to promote the 4-H values in helping her grandkids with projects, educational presentations, and providing queries to keep them exploring and improving. Now she is watching her great grandchildren step up and be involved in 4-H.
Hope had a mantra of no job was too large or too small to take on. One of her biggest joys and hardest tasks was helping prepare for the annual county fair by mowing, cleaning, setting up booths for each club, checking-in projects, and providing food for the 4-H dining shack. She also clerked the Decatur & Wayne County fair auctions for 11 years. Hope not only taught sewing lessons for 4-H’ers, but also organized design and sewing classes for other high school students. Her 4-H skills were literally woven into the fabric of the community through the Central Decatur Junior and Senior High School Cheerleading uniforms. Hope would design patterns and sew three pleated, box pleated or fitted A-line skirts for the cheerleaders, which were on display each game night.
A prominent example of the impact Hope has had on the 4-H community on a county level is the local exhibit building. The Extension office recruited the Mendenhall family, led by Hope, to form a fundraising committee to replace the original exhibit building at the county 4-H grounds. The project was completed in record time and the new building continues to be utilized many community events.