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Longtime Mississippi Homemakers Volunteers Club members honored for service

Sixty years of memories were placed inside handmade books to honor two women for their service to the community.

Leona Dow and Jeanette Coleman were both celebrated Thursday for their commitment to the Brookhaven Mississippi Homemakers Volunteers Club. They both enjoy being a part of a club that teaches women how to sew, cook and do everyday tasks in their homes.

MHV club members gathered for a luncheon in the Mississippi State University Extension room to share memories that dated back to 1955.

“When I started, we met at a little house,” Dow said. “We used to go from house to house and teach ladies how to do different things. There are two ladies that I feel real proud of because I showed them how to do the things that they are doing today.” 

Dow has been apart of the MHV club since 1956. She won a blue ribbon at Alcorn State University for her sewing techniques and service to the community.

“We used to go down to St. James church in their basement twice a month to show ladies how to sew,” Dow said. “We’d stay all day and even cook down there as we showed ladies how to start and finish their dresses.”

Dow’s sewing roots date back to her teenage years when she used to make her own church dresses with her family. Her father was a minister, and the family attended church every Sunday.

Most of the older members in the MHV club were raised the same way as Dow. They earned their money by picking cotton  and they all had to follow their parents’ strict rules.

“There was no such thing as not going to church on Sundays,” Dow said. “I thought my parents were being mean to me, but it made me a Christian and a woman out of me.”

The Mississippi Homemakers Volunteers club has been making a difference since 1918. Its mission is to recruit women who have an interest to serve others and help families in the community. They’ve held educational programs to teach the community about:

• public policy education

• personal development

• budgeting and finance

• estate planning

• nutrition, diet, and exercise

• health issues and healthcare

• food safety

• literacy

• leadership skills

• community development

• creative arts and leisure activities

“Things have changed over the years, but we’re still hands-on with sewing. We’re trying to not only do this for our adults, but we also want to teach this for our kids,” Lincoln County Extension agent LaToya Evans said. “You want to have a skill that can lead you into becoming an entrepreneur.”

Evans will also partner with MHV this summer to host cooking and sewing lessons for the Boys and Girls Club of Lincoln County.