Blueberry Trail Maids make a public appearance this weekend

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

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An elite group of young women were up early Monday to pick blueberries for a grower preparing for sales at Saturday’s Blueberry Festival in Brewton.
The Blueberry Trail Maids, recently chosen for the coming year, were hard at work and will continue working through their time as a part of the group.
Organizers of the group are Deborah George and Holly Shirley, owners/operators of The Holley House in Brewton.
Shirley said the idea of the Blueberry Trail Maids really started with her grandmother and her tenacity in teaching etiquette and manners to her children and grandchildren.
“My grandmother, Lenis Holley, passed away in 2021 but she left a legacy,” Shirley said. “She drilled etiquette and manners into us. We wanted to have a program for girls to teach etiquette, leadership, how to run business and create projects for the community. They will also serve as hostesses at the Holley House.”
In addition to the plans for the coming year, the Blueberry Trail Maids will also be hosting a booth at this year’s festival.
“They will be selling traditional pound cakes and blueberry/lemon pound cakes,” Shirley said. “they will also have tshirts and tumblers for sale as well.”
Shirley said the Maids will be raising funds throughout the year to fund the organization that she says is “self-sustaining.”
“When we put the plan in motion to have the Blueberry Trail Maids, we didn’t want anyone to be excluded from the program based on their ability to pay,” Shirley said. “We wanted every girl to have an opportunity to shine.”
There are 12 Blueberry Trail Maids — six are students at W.S. Neal and six are students at T.R. Miller — all now given the opportunity to work and grow with people they may never have met otherwise.
“I have friends now that I never knew growing up,” Shirley said. “We wanted to foster a sense of community by introducing them to children that they didn’t already know.”
The blind selection process began with applications followed by interviews for the coveted position.
“We had intended to only have 10 maids,” Shirley said. “But, all of the applicants were just so awesome that we had to add two more spots.”
In the coming year, the Maids are slated to host an open house and tea at the Holley House and will also be caroling following the Christmas parade complete with a chili dinner. Other events will include a trip to the Shakespeare festival and the Birmingham Broadway series.
“We will be hosting etiquette classes for the girls and then put their lessons to good use,” Shirley said. “We are planning a night out at a fancy restaurant with a fine dining experience where they can put their lessons to good use.”
In addition to learning more about social graces, the Maids will also be learning about planning and managing projects, Shirley said.
“One of the things we will be doing is have each girl come up with a project that would benefit the community and that has a special meaning to them,” Shirley said. “They will vote on the projects as a group to determine what we will do. they will learn about everything from planning a project to implementing their ideas. They will learn about coordinating volunteers, funding and management to make sure the project is completed.”
Look for the Blueberry Trail Maids at this weekend’s festival. They will be the friendly ones greeting visitors to our area.

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