January 22, 2024 | Alexa Johnson
Before becoming the eponymous figure behind Julia’s Café and Books at the Wendover ReStore, Julia was the face of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte for many years, launching its mission of building affordable homes together with those in need.
She was born desperately poor in the segregated South. She often said she knew what it meant to have nothing, and those who helped her rise beyond her background inspired her to do the same. “I read in the Bible, ‘inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me,’” she once said. “That didn’t seem to leave much room for ambiguity.”
Because of Julia, Girl Scouting came to Kannapolis, where she lived with her husband and young family. She raised money, started troops and hauled bricks to build a camp for girls to learn to help themselves. Today, it’s known as Camp Julia.
Because of Julia, the poor had a voice in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board’s wrenching debate over integrating public schools, as a school board member from 1966-1974.
Because of Julia, the word “retirement” takes on a whole new meaning. At 60, she joined the Peace Corps in Africa; later she lived and worked on missions with Haiti’s most desperate. At 70, she worked full-time – for free – to get Habitat Charlotte off the ground.
At Julia’s you’ll find fresh coffee and snacks, plus a bounty of books!
Sit down, relax and stay for a spell.
Because of Julia, Habitat Charlotte took hold. In 1986 the City of Charlotte named a street in the Optimist Park community in her honor—Julia Maulden Place—and between 1987 and 1989, Habitat built eight houses there. Julia was the driving force behind the Jimmy Carter Work Project that resulted in 14 houses being built in Optimist Park in one week in 1987. The event made national news, and at President Carter’s request, Bob Hope came to Charlotte to entertain the volunteers.
Julia Maulden passed away in March 2006 at age 92, but her memory and her work live on. All proceeds from Habitat Charlotte’s Julia’s Café & Books go toward building simple, decent, affordable homes in partnership with people from all walks of life.
Because of Julia, we hope that you are inspired.
Explore the links below to learn about ways that you can channel your own “inner Julia” to make a difference in the community.
Julia Maulden is an inspiration to us all.