I lost track of the date - pretend this post and yesterday's are switched.
In honor of the birthday of the Relief Society, I'm briefly highlighting the organization's founding instead of a specific woman.
In response to Sarah Granger Kimball's desire to form a ladies society, Joseph Smith invited the women to meet with him to discuss a greater plan that the Lord had for their society. At this first meeting, there were 20 women and 3 men present, and they met in the upper story of the red brick store. Joseph organized the society "after the pattern of the priesthood," and declared that the church had not been perfectly organized until the women had been organized. He expanded the goals of the original society. He gave the inspired prophetic counsel that the women should care for those that were in need, and assist in strengthening the morals of the community. Emma Smith was elected president, as a fulfilling of the revelation that would become D&C 25. Joseph also added that Emma was "to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of the community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings." Emma selected Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney as counselors, Eliza R. Snow as secretary, and Elvira A. Cowles as treasurer.
There are many accounts out there that are much more exhaustive than this post. But I just want to say that I am incredibly grateful for the organization of the Relief Society. It blows my mind to consider the countless acts of service, large and small, that women have given as a part of this organization. In the short period of time I've been involved with the Relief Society, my testimony has been strengthened, my skills expanded, and my knowledge enhanced. I have served and received service from others, and experienced tremendous growth from both. I'm grateful for the many women and men who have made the organization what it is today.
Relief Society: Divine Organization of Women, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.
History of the Church, 4:604–5
Encyclopedia of Mormonism: Relief Society in Nauvoo, Barbara Winder