Friends Serve Community for over 70 Years



By Judie Holcomb-Pack

It started simply enough – a few friends got together and decided to do some community outreach. They had no idea that over 75 years later, the group would still be going strong!

The Mahalia Jackson Community Outreach organization is a group of friends of all ages. Sam Howard, 88, is the son of a founding member, Elizabeth Caesar, who was active in the group until she passed away at age 102. Sam saw how involved his mother was in so many activities and he wanted to join. Even though the group was started in the early 1940s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that they opened up their membership to men – lucky for Sam! He is now happy to handle the cookouts and fish fry dinners for the group.

Currently the oldest member is 96, Frannie Jane Carson, whose daughter, Frannie Cato, is also a member of the group. She would take her mother to meetings and events, but put off joining until recently. JoAnn Agnew joined because her mother wanted to go to meetings and couldn’t drive, so she drove her. Helen Mitchell was just a baby when she started attending meetings. Her mother would lay her on a bed so she could meet with the other members, so Frannie says she’s been a member since birth! Maxine White is one of the newest members and has enjoyed getting to know everyone and watching the group grow.

Members come from Winston-Salem and all around – Mocksville, East Bend, Kernersville, Lewisville, and other communities. What keeps the group going – and new members coming on board – is the unwavering friendship and passion for serving the community. The members stay busy with activities, such as bringing canned goods to meetings to donate to Meals on Wheels, visiting nursing homes, and participating in other service projects. On the fifth Sunday of the month they attend church together.

Their big event is their annual Christmas party where they invite family and friends to join them. They create a “bear tree” and then give the bears away to children – who doesn’t love having a bear to hug? This past Christmas they were entertained with the humor of Mama Faye. Most recently they held a school supplies drive, which they delivered to the Carl Russell Community Center to be given to students.

The group welcomes new members of any age who are interested in community service. If you’d like to join this active group, email or call Joann Agnew at 336-749-7313.


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