The Shady Ladies

Written by Teresa Dennard.

Know the true meaning of giving

There’s a church on Highway 315, a few miles west of Clayton whose congregation is small in number, but great in service.  The Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Longbranch, Texas, has been established since 1882, and through the years, members of the church have made sure that each generation has maintained the same standard of morals and principles as the last. That is evident in a group of ladies known as the “Shady Ladies.”

The current group of Shady Ladies watched and learned from their mothers. From cooking meals or gathering clothes and needed supplies, to helping a neighbor or a group of people as far away as Haiti, these ladies have done it all. “Kudos to our parents for the upbringing that we had,” stated one of the ladies. “You don’t think about it, you just do it because that’s what you’re supposed to do.” One of the first missions these ladies remember working with was the drowning of the game wardens at Lake Murvaul in 1990. They got together and cooked food to carry down for the search party. For many years at Thanksgiving, they cooked dinner at Panola College before the school let out for the holidays. They also would help on Thanksgiving Day when Mission Carthage served food to the needy, and now help by donating to stock their pantry.

Velma Jones, a retired RN and member of the Shady Ladies, travels to Africa each year taking medical supplies and providing humanitarian work. “I go with doctors, teachers and other nurses and we go into the villages and give medical treatment. Our church also bought hundreds of Teddy bears to give to the children because they don’t have toys. I’m able to go each year because of the financial support that Shady Grove provides.” Another program the Ladies are involved with is the Seafarer Ministry at the Port of Houston. Each week, Earnestine Pellum, President of the Mission Women’s Auxiliary, spends her time filling shoe boxes with essentials such as socks, shaving cream, razors, and toothpaste, as well as Christian reading material. The boxes are then taken to Houston and given to ship’s crew members during the Christmas season.

One of the largest undertakings for the group came after Hurricane Katrina. “I was working at the courthouse,” recalls Sandra King, “and had gone to talk with Jim Young to tell him we would be willing to help with the evacuees. Little did I know what was in store for us. We were told to come to Central Baptist to gather a group of people to take back with us. Oh my goodness…it was almost 200 people! We had a convoy from Carthage. When they got here, they were so needy. They had fled from their homes with nothing--no money, no food, no clothing. It was just amazing how we pulled together. We were able to feed them and we split them up into different homes to get baths. Some stayed in the church. They were here two weeks. At one point we were out of food, but I talked to people at the school and the Methodist Church and they were able to help us out. When the evacuees first came, we didn’t even have enough paper towels and toilet tissue. We went into our own bank accounts and bought what we needed. That was an awesome task, but we knew that God would provide. We took turns staying with them because everybody still had their jobs. The pastor drove every day from Longview. It’s just what you do when people are in need.”

The pastor of 23 years at Shady Grove, Reverend James H. Wall, Jr., is very involved with the Haiti mission. At the state Missionary Baptist Convention in 2005, Reverend Wall was persuaded to go to Haiti and help establish a medical clinic. Since that time the church has sent $1500 a month to help keep the clinic going. Mission work for Shady Grove and the Shady Ladies is an endless undertaking, but one that pulls the members together and makes them stronger. Whether it’s making Willie V. Davis’s fried pies to raise money for building projects or sending Teddy bears to Africa, the Shady Ladies always find a way to help those in need. A scripture that best describes the  Ladies is Acts 3:6. “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:”

Members of the Shady Ladies are: Wilma Allison, Ada Black, Sheila Bowie, Eva Chadwick, Pamela Chaple, Dotzie Davis, Willie V. Davis, Wanda Gaines, Ophelia Guinn, Shirley Hawkins, Velma Jones, Sandra King, Gloria Leffall, Murline McAlister, Doris Pellum, Earnestine Pellum, Gladys Pellum, Mary Ross, Bettie Smith, Lorryane Wall, and Tammy Wildy.