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Group of women find common passion in serving community

By KBell
Feb. 23, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:23 p.m.


THE WOMEN IN SHADES OF COLORBobbie Bosier

Naomi Odom

Mary Nell Fillmore

Annie Ellison

Marie Johnson

Beverly Franklin

Pattie Steen

Yolanda Bennett

Illiffie Watson

From the hearty laughs bellowing outside of Bobbie Bosier's home, it's hard to tell a group of seven women are inside planning several serious community service projects.

The ladies of Shades of Color, a group of professional black women, seem to certainly enjoy cultivating their shared passion of serving the Crossroads.

"Even though we're all black, we're different colors," Bosier, the group's president said. "That's where 'Shades' comes in."

The group of nine members started out as a social club for primarily black nurses in 1994.

"From there, we went to doing community work," Bosier said at their January monthly meeting.

Now, the women in Shades of Color have settled into a routine of service - from offering blood pressure screenings and helping out the Boys and Girls Club, to playing Bingo with senior citizens and awarding two scholarships a year to students pursuing nursing school.

Bosier recalled her most poignant memory of helping a family in need by bringing them Thanksgiving dinner two years in a row.

"The first time, those kids were so happy, they ran out and hugged us," she said. "That's appreciation."

The lone teacher in the group, Marie Johnson, recalled when the group took an organization with special needs out to buy their own toiletries.

"Oh, I have my own razor?" she remembered one girl asking in amazement.

Over the years, the group has learned where its help is most needed and especially how to humbly offer it.

"The reception of the help, you have to push it on people," Yolanda Bennett, the "baby" of the group, said. "Nobody wants to say they're in need."

They've also learned a lot about each other.

"We look to be a positive group. We know each other's yays and nays," Bosier said to a nodding room.

When people apply to join their group, which they aim to keep under 15 members, the ladies ensure the prospect is civic-minded, positive and willing to commit to the group's activities. There are even bylaws that spell out membership requirements.

"There's only a few of us, so we all have to be able to work on a team," member Mary Nell Fillmore said.

Fillmore joked about when she was a nursing student and first met Bosier, a head nurse.

"I thought she was a drill sergeant, but I look up to her now," Fillmore said to more cackling.

The members have become close friends along the way, with Bennett even naming her daughter after Bosier.

Like the variety of their shades of color, the women also offer a variety of skills that make their well-oiled community service machine function.

In unison, they call out who's good at remembering the birthdays, who's the best at PR, who's the decorator.

"It just worked out that we all have the same likes and dislikes," Bosier said.

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