“My parents followed a farmer who gave my dad a job, and we went from town to town. I was born in Indiana then my parents moved to Arkansas and eventually to Yazoo City.
There wasn’t much money in farm labor, so our Christmas was a family meal together. A man named Billy once brought us a basket of fruit and nuts. I was five or six, and that was the first Christmas gift I remembered. I would love to meet him again and thank him.
I got my first baby doll when I was eight years old. Someone broke into our car and stole everything, including my doll. My mom told me I was always taking care of make-believe baby dolls or pretending to be a school teacher wearing long skirts. Sometimes I pulled her canned goods out of the pantry to pretend I was running a store.
My grandmother taught us that if someone needs something, we give it to them. I always dreamed of caring for kids, people with special needs, and the elderly. That came true. I was a caregiver for over 15 years for a little boy with special needs. I was also a teacher’s assistant in Yazoo County and saw kids sitting in the corner of events or parties because their parents or grandparents didn’t have the money for them to participate. That broke my heart, so I spent all of my money on school supplies or Christmas presents for the students.
I wanted a house full of kids, but I had endometriosis and would pass out when the cyst hit a nerve. I needed a total hysterectomy, and the doctor told me if I got pregnant, either the child or I wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t bring an innocent child into the world and not care for it. Since I couldn’t get pregnant, my first husband and I decided to adopt. The birth mother went into labor and had complications. The doctor handed me the little girl, but she died in my arms. It’s still tough to talk about. My then-husband was laid off and asked for a divorce. That was a difficult year. I didn’t understand why these things were happening, but God told me I would have nieces and nephews and a whole world of babies to care for.
After my divorce, I had four jobs: working at a convenience store in Satartia, cleaning houses, and caring for children and older adults.
One of my favorite people to care for was Mrs. Charlotte Helton; I learned a lot from her. Mrs. Helton’s sister and most of the ladies who came to her house in the afternoon for cake and coffee gradually passed away, and we realized we were the only ones left. She said we need something to do and suggested we buy the snow cone shop in Yazoo City or flip houses.
Mrs. Helton died in 2019, and it was time to take a break and focus on caring for my parents. But I kept hearing Mrs. Helton telling me, ‘Baby, when one door closes, another door opens’ and ‘find something else to do.’ I opened H & M Sno Biz four years ago. The H is for Helton, and the M is for Mitchell, my last name. Marrying Steve Mitchell was another door that opened.
H & M Sno Biz took off. We added easy food like corn dogs and tacos, then served lunch three days a week. We have shrimp every Wednesday. Other days may be lasagna or meatloaf. Customers are coming from out of town, and folks I have never met come back because they like how we make them feel.
This little sno cone stand has also become a way to serve Yazoo. I hear about kids who need something, and a few of us quietly work together to help
Our biggest problem is outgrowing this space and finding help. My goal is to hire young people and teach them to work and give them opportunities. I want to be a mentor, like Mrs. Helton was to me, but sometimes it’s hard to reach the ones who need this most.
I hope Sno Biz grows into a storefront that provides a place for people to come in and sit. Older customers stay at our outside tables for a while, and a store would make it easier to sit and talk with them.
People tell me I need to move to a bigger town, but this business was built by the community from Yazoo City. Why would I want to move to Madison or somewhere else that didn’t help us get started? People need us here, and I need them.”