At the age of 84, Dora Lee Belton is an active member of the Reitred & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Council on Aging. In her rural home of Powhatan, Louisiana, pop. 132, Mrs. Belton directs her grassroots efforts to projects which will improve the quality of life in the community. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Natchitoches Parish Council on Aging (NPCOA) since 1995, Belton represents her community and has made valuable contributions for the elderly and handicapped citizens of that area. She has had a strong voice in improving direct services, such as expanded meals, transportation, commodity distribution, and utility assistance. In addition, Belton has been instrumental in coordinating with the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority to provide affordable, modernized housing for the elderly and handicapped citizens of Powhatan.
Almost three years ago Belton, with the counsel of a former police juror, sought assistance from Theresa Gibson, executive director of the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority, for help in providing a better housing environment for the citizens of Powhatan. The need was almost to the desperate point. Belton and her associate were determined to make a positive movement toward providing housing to her community.
As a result of Belton’s persistence, Assisted and Safe Homes, Inc. (ASH), a non-profit organization that made them eligible to receive funding from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA) for new construction and HOME funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Belton was subsequently named to the newly formed board of ASH.
An application was made for funding to construct 40 new dwellings within the limits of the Village of Powhatan was approved by LHFA. This new dwelling would be the first new construction in the village since 1979, when a private dwelling was built. The construction of rental property had hitherto been virtually non-existent, and former records indicate that it had been 40 years or more since the last rental properties were built in Powhatan.
Well on the road to realizing her vision, Belton co-hosted a 1999 groundbreaking of a permanent affordable housing facility in the community of Powhatan. Currently, the residents of Powhatan have witnessed 60% completion of some of the most attractive housing units the parish has ever had, and certainly that have been built within the village limits. All of this is due to the concern of one citizen that cares about and loves her small community and its people.
In the mid-1980’s, Belton identified the need for a community fire department. As a concerned citizen, Belton spoke out and mobilized a community to support the effort. Realizing the need for government intervention, she sought the assistance of Parish government to guide the community in her endeavor. Today, Powhatan has a fire department, and Belton is a charter member of the fire department board and serves as financial secretary.
Mrs. Belton is a born-again Christian and member of the First Presbyterian Church in Natchitoches, has taught Sunday School, is an ordained elder, and member of the mission and evangelist.