"I have lived in this area since 1972. We moved here when I was in the fifth grade and do you know that Isaac Wilborn, the principal of my school, still remembers my name?" said Julie Bell with a big smile on her face. "Back then as daring teenagers, we used to drive down Pope Avenue and when we approached the Sea Pines Circle, we would turn off our lights and see how many times we could drive around the circle backwards until we saw another car. We would pull right up to the beach at North Forest Beach Road-no hotels of course-and build bonfires and spend the night under the stars. My senior year I worked at the Coligny Theater where there were only two employees-one took money and the other sold snacks. It was only open Friday and Saturday nights."
Yes, she has lived here for a very long time and that is just one of the reasons she feels it is so important to be a vital part of Island life. Julie started to get involved in school activities when her son was in kindergarten and enjoyed it so much she went on to serve as PTA president along with a variety of other jobs including classroom volunteer, and chairman of the Otter Trot. She is currently serving as vice-president of the Hilton Head Island Middle School PTA. Julie says there are a great group of volunteers who have become lifelong friends. It is the spirit of teamwork and the fact that she believes that teachers need parental support that keeps her coming back. "Teachers and staff members need our help to bring programs and events to the schools that their budgets will not cover" she declares.
She is also very active in the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club. Again offering her talents in programs that serve young people, she is the Director of Youth Services for the group. She is the Rotarian Liaison for the Hilton Head Island High School Interact Club and she assists in bringing the Students of the Year from all of the area high schools into the club for the scholarships Rotary provides each year.
I first met Julie in the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program. The class spent their first weekend together at Penn Center on St. Helena Island and not only learned about the Center and its traditions but also completed a very strenuous physical obstacle course called "Ropes." She says, "Penn Center is a spot where you can jump back in time and view the beginnings of African American learning in America. Martin Luther King even spent time there!" Each leadership class decides on a project that they believe will fill a community need and the class of 2006 decided on a project that involved dental hygiene. They decided to collect toothbrushes, toothpaste and educational materials for Deep Well, VIM and Bluffton Self Help. The class met and exceeded their goals by bringing in more than 5,000 toothbrushes and dental health items and providing coloring materials and educational pictures that are still being used today.
So, what about Julie as a private person? Well, it is what you might expect-she is a super mom with a great sense of humor. She presides over a "blended family." She and her husband Jim have Kiersten who is 24, Ian, 22, Weston 13, and Savannah 12. Julie says, "The two children that 'came with' my husband have been a great joy to me. I got to learn about teenagers while I was learning about toddlers. I got to teach one about starting her period while I was teaching the other how to dress herself. I learned about teen-aged boys who are not exactly communicative, while the other son was learning to write his name. I now have four productive and well-adjusted children who I love most dearly. I couldn't imagine my life without each one of them in it."
Julie's cause right now is Girl Scouts. She is not only a local leader, but also the Field Director for The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina. She gets involved with other troops and mentors other leaders to be sure they are positive role models for their girls. Their motto is "Girls Grow Strong" and Julie's job is to see that that motto is an integral part of every offered program. She also says, "We need leaders; for every ten girls that are inside enjoying a girl scout meeting, there are at least 15 more sitting on the steps outside wishing they could be there too. Girls are easy to find-it is the leaders we need!"
If this were not enough to wear you out just reading about it, Julie also participates in the Daisy Reading Program for students at the Children's Center. She reads a story, then does a craft with the children, and they get to keep the book to start to build their own home library and learn to care for and value books. I love this project. Imagine bringing that kind of gift to a child.
Long time resident and full time volunteer,-Julie Bell is a giver. She gives herself, her time, her talents and most of all, her heart.
Q. What is the favorite meal of your large family?
A. It is good old fashioned meatloaf, real mashed potatoes, corn, and dinner rolls.
Q. Do you still read to your children, and if so, what do you read?
A. We read the newspaper together in the mornings while they wait for the school bus.
Q. If you could take your Girl Scouts anywhere for a week, where would you go?
A. We would all love to go to Florida to swim with the dolphins!
Q. What is your favorite dressy outfit?
A. I have a very sexy black evening dress that I just love. I try to keep fit enough so I can still wear it and I love to have my husband check me out!
Q. Do you have words to live by?
A. Yes, "Service Above Self" the Rotary motto.