Program turns spotlight on influential first lady
A half-century after her death, Eleanor Roosevelt continues to be a subject of fascination and inspiration for many people.
A Sept. 19 program, "Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt," will provide insight about the life and accomplishments of one of the 20th century's most important figures.
The program includes an optional dinner at 6 p.m. followed by the free program at 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the Worthington Education Center, 200 E. Wilson Bridge Road.
The event will be held as part of the U.S. Presidents study group offered by Worthington Parks and Recreation's Griswold Center.
It is being planned by Grandview Heights resident Jeri Diehl Cusack, a long-time admirer of Roosevelt.
"She's just endlessly fascinating to me," Cusack said. "There are so many ways she touched the world, yet she remained a humble person."
Roosevelt was a perfect partner for her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, she said.
"She supported him as he led the country through the Depression and World War II and personally supported him after he was paralyzed due to polio," Cusack said. "She remained active in politics throughout her life and led the way on so many causes."
Cusack has collected more than 250 books and a variety of memorabilia relating to Eleanor Roosevelt. The books and collectibles fill a small room in her home.
In June, she was asked to serve on the executive committee of Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt, a national organization working to preserve Val-Kill, the first lady's home located near the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, N.Y.
"Most of the members of the organization are from New York, Washington, D.C., or New England, and they've asked me to help spread the word in the Midwest about Eleanor Roosevelt and the effort to preserve her Val-Kill home," Cusack said.
The opportunity to present the "Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt" program in Worthington was "a gift," she said.
Attending one of the U.S. Presidents programs at the Griswold Center, Cusack was surprised to find that the historical group was led by Walt Kobalka, whose wife supervised Cusack's husband many years ago when he was a volunteer for Volunteers in Service to America.
"We haven't seen each other for three decades," Cusack said.
"It's a small world," Kobalka said.
The U.S. Presidents study group meets once a month at the Griswold Center.
"The center's only open during the day, so our programs are usually held in the morning," Kobalka said. "What's exciting about the Eleanor Roosevelt program is that we are going to be able to hold it in the evening at a larger facility, so hopefully, we'll be able to attract a lot more people."
The free program will include a presentation on Roosevelt by Uri Perrin, executive director of the Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt organization.
Perrin grew up in Clintonville, Cusack said.
The biographical film Close to Home, which is shown to visitors to Val-Kill, will be screened, and Cusack will have some of her Eleanor Roosevelt memorabilia on display.
The optional meal will be served by LifeCare Alliance's LA Catering.
"It's fitting that our meal will be catered by LifeCare Alliance, which coordinates the Meals on Wheels program," Kobalka said. "They also do this catering business. I think this is exactly the kind of caterer Eleanor Roosevelt would want for an event in her honor."
The cost for the meal is $10 per person. Reservations for the dinner are due by Sept. 7.
There will be space for 90 people at the dinner, but there will be room for 450 people at the free program that follows, Kobalka said. Reservations are not needed for the after-dinner program.
Those wanting to attend the dinner should send checks payable to H.E.R. Midwest Committee, 1020 Elmwood Ave., Columbus 43212-3254.
For more information about the event, call Kovalka at 614-582-8542 or email Cusack at email@example.com.