Joan Bailey has lived her life in such a way that even the small things have become large.
As the former First Lady of Valdosta State University, she often encounters people who thank her for something she did, some occasion when one of her acts has changed or shaped a life. Some occasion, which she admits, she doesn’t always recall – a kind word, a gesture, in a lifetime of generosity of time, talents and
compassionate spirit. A person never knows how some daily action, a daily word of encouragement can change everything for someone else.
Of course, she takes no credit for such things. But the former students and others thanking her know.
Mrs. Bailey has made a difference.
She continues making a difference with the Community Depot, an organization which raises awareness and funds for the local chapters of the American Red Cross, Easter Seals and the Humane Society. The Community Depot, 1602 N. Ashley St., honored Bailey by naming its Joan Bailey Center for her.
The Community Depot uses the idea of a thrift shop to help its designated charitable organizations, explains Ralph Jackson, Community Depot director. People donate items to the Community Depot’s Joan Bailey Center, these items are readied for sale, and are sold with proceeds going toward the designated organizations. Meanwhile, shoppers can find items at low prices.
However, some donated items have the potential to garner higher prices. Jackson shares examples of donated items such as a Wooten desk with burled walnut front panels appraised at $16,000; a new treadmill appraised at $1,000; numerous still-boxed women’s shoes, handbags, a framed signed letter from astronaut Jim Irvin. The types of items that would be a shame to sell for a few dollars, especially when they could do so much good for the designated organizations, Jackson says, but also the types of items that if tagged at a more appropriate price might scare off traditional thrift-shop consumers.
Since the Community Depot opened last June, the organization has placed these and other items aside. Next weekend, the Joan Bailey Center hosts a live and silent auction for these items at Mathis City Auditorium. The event will include entertainment, food and a chance to help the American Red Cross, Easter Seals and the Humane Society.
Jackson says the Community Depot is growing with help from people such as Joan Bailey, who serves as the organization’s chairperson. Jackson says he regularly consults with her for advice and insight.
He met with her and late husband Dr. Hugh Bailey, former VSU president, before going forward with the Community Depot concept. They listened to Jackson, offered advice and support for the idea. Had the Baileys not believed in the idea, Jackson says he would have likely abandoned the project.
Dr. Bailey did not see the opening of the Community Depot. He passed away in October 2012.
Mrs. Bailey says the organization has kept her busy since her husband’s passing.
Of course, she recalls the years when she did not have to seek ways to keep busy.
Being VSU First Lady was not an official position but it was a full-time job dealing with events, visitors, social occasions, faculty, students and more. Mrs. Bailey laughs recalling one time, years ago, when she sought a little rest as first lady.
She had been working non-stop preparing for an event and felt the need for some undisturbed rest. She stepped into a closet by the Magnolia Room, wrapped herself in stored drapes and took a nap. A student found Mrs. Bailey and didn’t think the First Lady was sleeping. The student screamed for help which ended Mrs. Bailey’s nap.
Joan Bailey enjoyed those busy years. She loved seeing young people develop their talents. The greatest joy was seeing the students graduate. Seeing their families beam with pride. To know that in many cases this student was the first member of a family to graduate. To share a word, a gesture, a smile with these students.
A small thing that changes a life in a big way.
The Joan Bailey Center/Community Depot hosts a live/silent auction.
When: Saturday, March 22, doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St.
Admission: $12, single; $20, couple, includes food and entertainment.
More information on this event and the organization: Visit www.communitydepot-valdosta.org