Hands to Serve

: On the left, a younger woman wearing a patterned pink shirt holds one side of a crocheted grey shirt shirt. In the middle, and older woman smiles. On the right, another older woman with grey hair and a crocheted piece of clothing smiles and holds the shirt.
Julia Bailey showcases some of her work with Iris Roberts, her niece, and Malikah Jones, a Mississippi State University Extension Service agent in Kemper County. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

MHV club provides social, service outlet for members

Story by Susan Collins-Smith • Photos by Kevin Hudson

When Julia Bailey returned to her native DeKalb in 1992, she wanted to get involved in her community.

She first volunteered at the hospital and became involved with the jail ministry through her church. Then, from a friend, she found out about the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers. The leadership organization is dedicated to education and community service and is a program overseen by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

“After retiring, my husband died, and I left Detroit and came back home,” Bailey explains. “I wanted to be out in the community and doing things with others.”

An woman with short grey hair stands to the right of a windowsill with blue and purple ribbons hanging from a multicolored curtain. The woman holds a doll wearing a white dress with light green, light pink, and dark brown polka dots.
Julia Bailey showcases a sewing project she’s completing for the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers in front of the many ribbons she’s won for her work over the years.

At 97, she’s still an active volunteer with the West Liberty MHV Club in Kemper County. She attends an arts and crafts meeting every Tuesday, where members make home décor, such as wreaths, and work on various sewing projects, including quilts. Bailey’s favorite projects are sewing, embroidery, and quilting.

“I love anything I can do with my hands,” says Bailey, who assembled cruise controls, fuel pumps, and speedometers during her 33-year career with General Motors. “When I first joined MHV, I made clothes for the modeling competition. I’ve been sewing most of my life. I can’t say I love to cook. Nobody is going to starve, but it’s not my favorite thing to do.”

Although cooking isn’t her choice activity, she has canned fruits and vegetables for the county fair competition and won ribbons for her work. In fact, she has many, many ribbons to show for her excellent handiwork, mostly for her quilts, afghans, arts and crafts, and crocheted clothing items.

The West Liberty MHV Club allows Bailey to combine her love of people, service, and sewing. MHV members make a quilt every year for Kemper County’s Relay for Life fund-raiser, sew or crotchet items monthly for Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, and assist with workshops and summer camps for 4-H members. MHV also visits local nursing homes to celebrate residents’ birthdays, make cookies for the welcome center, collect teddy bears for the Mississippi Highway Patrol for children who have been in accidents, and serve on the Coalition for a Healthy Kemper County.

“I can rely on Ms. Julia for help with all kinds of projects,” says Malikah Jones, Extension agent in Kemper County.

“Sometimes it’s hands-on projects with our 4-H youth, like when we have our back-to-school sewing workshop. Other times, she’s there to give me advice. I can go to her and ask her if I’m correct about a particular subject. She is the model example of MHV. Family is important to her. Community is important to her. She is dedicated to making the two better through her service.”

Jones says she is fortunate to have a group of women and men who are interested in their community and its well-being.

“All of my MHV members help to make my job easier. They are there to volunteer with any kind of activity we have, from the county fair and annual events to meetings at the office,” she emphasizes. “Being the only agent in my county now, I rely on our homemakers to help me with these things. They are very important to me and our county.”

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