GREENFIELD — Bobbie Lawrence’s daughter wanted to learn to cook, but she’d been stymied by the lack of cooking classes for people her age.

Then, Lawrence saw the poster for the “I Can” basic skills classes on Facebook and shared it with her daughter, Lainie, 14.

A cooking lesson is one of the four hands-on classes offered by the Hancock County Extension Homemakers Association and Love INC as part of the “I Can” basic skills series. The classes meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. four Tuesdays in a row during the month of November at the Calvary Baptist Church, 1450 W. Main St.

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In addition to cooking, other classes include sewing and cleaning, budgeting and a Christmas craft session.

Deborah Sweet, chairman of the “I Can” committee and president elect of the Hancock County Extension Homemakers Association, sees a real need in Hancock County for the “I Can” classes. Today’s mothers, she said, might know how to do some of these basic skills, but they don’t always have time to sit down and teach the skill and pass it on.

Sweet and current Homemakers Association president Lais McCartney learned about “I Can” while attending the 2017 Indiana Extension Homemakers Annual Home and Family Conference in Indianapolis. Now in its second year, the “I Can” initiative was piloted in five Indiana counties in 2016, and was looking to expand. McCartney and Sweet were impressed with the curriculum and brought the idea back to the Hancock County group where it was met with enthusiasm.

McCartney pulled in Nic Alizondo, Transformational Ministry Coordinator at Love INC after attending a nutrition class taught through Love INC by Extension Nutrition educator Mandy Gray. McCartney asked Love INC to partner with the Homemakers to present the four classes.

The idea for community skills classes had been in the back of his mind for awhile, Alizondo said.

“When they (the Homemakers) brought it up to us,” Alizondo said, “it was like an answered prayer.”

Love INC agreed to teach the budgeting class as well as handle the registration and the marketing.

The curriculum for the classes, offered by Purdue Extension Health and Human Services, outlined guidelines for introductory classes which could be formatted to meet the needs of Hancock County.

The first class, taught Nov. 7 by current Extension Homemaker president Lais McCartney, covers sewing and cleaning. McCartney plans to instruct her pupils in how to sew on a button and hem a dress or pair of pants, and then introduce them to homemade cleaning products that don’t bring toxic chemicals into the home.

The Extension Homemakers have set a goal for the classes to reach out to everyone: high school graduates, young adults going off to college, 4-H members, scout troops and anyone who could benefit from learning basic homemaking and life skills.

“How about the man who just lost his wife, and she did everything for him,” Sweet offers. “This is for every stage of life.”

The Indiana Extension Homemakers Association dates to 1913, with a mission to strengthen families through continuing education, leadership development and volunteer community service support.

The Hancock County Extension Homemakers consist of around 10 clubs throughout the county. Each of the clubs offers a different format and structure modified to the members of that group. Some groups bring their children to the meetings; some share a meal. All the gatherings include a business meeting and a lesson or an activity. Individual groups work on projects such as crocheting chemotherapy caps for those undergoing cancer treatment, making comfort shawls, pinafores and puppy pillows. The groups all work together to raise money for the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research.

At the conclusion of the series, Sweet has instructions to report back to the Purdue Extension office with data and results.

“We want feedback from the community,” Sweet said. “Do they want us to keep going?”

McCartney is proud to be a member of the Extension Homemakers Association and excited about the classes and their potential impact.

“‘I Can’ is a place where we can help people in our communities to teach skills that have been lost,” she said. “It’s open to anyone who’s interested in improving and enlarging the greatest institution in the world, the home.”

If you go

I Can classes meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Tuesdays at the Calvary Baptist Church, 1450 W. Main St.

Nov. 7 — sewing and cleaning

Nov. 14 — budgeting

Nov. 21 — cooking

Nov. 28 — crafts for Christmas

Registration is free; call Love INC at 317-468-6300 or

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Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or