This story was originally published in the 2019 Spring Newsletter. This posting is made in loving memory of Velma Hendrix.
Velma Hendrix was an active member of the St. Landry community after an extensive career in the classroom. Now, she serves as mayor for the town of Melville. How did Velma go from retired educator to local political official? Each time Velma received a call to serve her community, she didn’t shy away.
Velma taught high school English and Adult Education in St. Landry Parish for 32 years. Upon her retirement, Velma immersed herself with various local organizations. She served at both the local and district levels with LRTA. Velma was the District V president from 2015-2017. She still remains involved with her local unit, the Retired Educators Association of St. Landry Parish. Velma continues to stay active with her alma mater through the Grambling State University Alumni Association. She also volunteers outside of the education community. Velma currently serves as the financial secretary and Adult Sunday School teacher at her church, where she is also a member of the Board of Trustees. Velma stuck to her education and community roots for a while, until it was time branch out into different avenues.
Velma’s journey to becoming the mayor of her town begins with her position on the town council. After serving on the council for some time, Velma accepted the invitation to represent the town on several boards in the community and St. Landry parish. Her involvement with these civic organizations led her to join the St. Landry Federation of Democratic Women. This organization unites women and encourages the participation of women in every level of government. Soon, the opportunity to run for mayor of Melville became available. After encouragement from her family and several community members, Velma entered the political arena. “As a lifelong resident and a council member of the town of Melville, I felt compelled to devote some of my time to restoring some of the things that made my community an interesting place to live,” Velma says.
Now, Velma is tasked with running the daily operations of the town. She is also charged with seeking solutions to fulfill the town’s need of new infrastructure and economic development. She is constantly looking for new avenues to bring business and revenue into her town and improve the community overall.
Through her experiences as a volunteer, Velma understands the impact community members have when they come together for the common good. Through her experiences as a retired educator, Velma also understands the impact youth can have on the community. Velma encourages citizens of all ages to come together to preserve the history of their community and contribute to future development of their own towns. “Take a serious look at your community as it is now, compare it to what it was years ago, and determine what potentials are possible for the future,” Velma advises.
Retirement can open the door to new experiences and opportunities. Velma’s ambition to explore all of the opportunities life presented took her to the leadership roles she serves in today. Velma encourages new retirees to take the time to travel and experience what other states and countries have to offer. And, once they return home, participate in as many community activities as possible.
“Everyone benefits from the expertise of those who have a wealth of knowledge in various areas and want to share it.”