Bellows' Matchbook Resume Has Lighted Many Lives


Mlk Drum Major Recipient Is A Leader

February 03, 1991|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff writer

It's a resume of sorts scribbled on a paper scrap -- a matchbook summary of a life of service. Gladys Bellows prepared it, and it reads like the lyric of a Frank Sinatra tune.

"I've been an organizer, a supervisor, a developer, a fund-raiser, teacher, adviser, lobbyist, advocate, a band leader and a beggar," said Bellows, sitting in an office at the Lula G. Scott Community Center in Shady Side, which she helped to establish in the late 1970s.

There's no brag in the list. Bellows is not inclined to that. Shepointed out that she prepared her little "resume" only in response to a reporter's questions a few days before.

"I'm not going to say for publication that I am great because I don't think so," said Bellows, a retired Washington school teacher and administrator. "I am perfectly content. I have found the greatest peace in helping people. I have found an inner peace that I don't think I could have gained any other way."

Before her sits a token of the community's appreciation, a wood and brass plaque presented to her last month by the Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency: The Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award.

"I know what a drum major is now, it's someone who works 22 years constantly."

Bellows, who gives her age as "70-something," reports that she recently has been forced to slow down a bit and leave two positions under the county Department of Aging.

"It was a bit much," said Bellows. "That's all right when you're 60, when you're 55. . . . Now I don't feel like doing quite that much work."

That leaves just five organizations for which Bellows volunteers about a week a month, including the vestry of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Annapolis. She also works for the county Community Action Agency, serves as president of the Community Action Senior Opportunity Services club, or CASOS, and as a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the executive board of the Scott Center.

It's a way of life, she said.

"Giving is what I'm all about. When I can no longer do that, I won't be here."

Yvonne Matthews, president of the Lula Scott Center board, is glad Bellows is there.

"She's just a born leader, I guess," Matthews said. "Very energetic. Just knowing her is a great experience because she has so many talents."

A nativeof Washington, Bellows earned a bachelor's degree in education at Howard University. In 1935, she went to work as a teacher in Washingtonelementary schools because "that's where the action is. The kindergarten is the most important part of the whole school system. I could have gone into the junior high schools, but that's not where the action is. You can't believe something and do something else."

She taught for 14 years, then for 19 years supervised science programs in 10 Washington elementary schools. In 1968, she retired to the home in Churchton that she and her late husband had owned since 1956. He died in 1960.

As she recalled it, she took about two months off after retiring, then rolled up her sleeves and went to work with the Tri-Civic Association, a now-defunct organization of black residents of Churchton, Deale and Shady Side. The group worked on plans for the area's sewer system, street lighting, drainage ditch cleaning and road paving.

Lionel Thompson, who lives just down the street from Bellows, worked with her on the Tri-Civic Association and described her as "Just outstanding in every way . . . very brilliant and bright and kind."

In the late-1970s, Bellows played a role in creating the Lula Scott Center in a building on Shady Side Road that onced housed a black elementary school. The center now serves senior citizens and young people with a program of exercise, craft classes, meals and recreational activities. The center also runs a thrift shop.

Bellows developed and directed the first programs for senior citizens at the center and at one time led a senior citizens' rhythm band. Hence, she adds developer and band leader to her list of credits. She puts lobbyist on the list for her many appearances before the General Assembly, pushing for support for Community Action programs.

"I have found much satisfaction and much happiness doing the things I do," said Bellows. "I sleep well at night."

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