Born in Pennsylvania, Mickie grew up in the metro DC area. She attended college and graduate school in Kentucky, and went on to teach Special Education for 38 years. A lifelong volunteer, Mickie started volunteering at Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s Summer Camp for children with cognitive disabilities while in high school. That program later became Special Olympics and she has been a volunteer with that organization for 49 years. “I will tell anyone, Mrs. Shriver gave me my two passions in my life: my professional job as an educator for special needs’ students and my passion for Special Olympics.”
Mickie has been visiting Rehoboth since childhood, and wanting to be closer to her family, she moved here from Kentucky in September, 2010. She resides in Oyster Bay Villas along with her puppy, Finn.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP and what events/activities have you been involved with since?
I attended the first volunteer orientation and then immediately volunteered for Sundance which was just a few weeks away. I then volunteered in the CAMP Rehoboth office as a CAMPcierge. As Women’s FEST approached, I volunteered to work with that committee as well. I was offered a job to work in the front office after Women’s FEST that year. When I accepted the offer I also told Steve (Elkins) that I would continue my volunteer service with the organization and gave volunteer hours as well as paid hours with the Black and White Beach Ball, Sundance, Women’s FEST, and Starburst Gayla. Last summer, after conversations with Steve and my family, I decided to step down and resign my position in the front office of CAMP. I really wanted more time to enjoy all Rehoboth Beach has to offer and, in my opinion, the CAMP Rehoboth job requires a full-time person. Since resigning, I have continued to volunteer— Starburst Gayla, cooking lunch for the mailing parties (something I started as an employee), making dinner for the Volunteer Orientation, ticket sales at the Chorus Concerts, Women’s FEST and anything else they might need.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
I have so many memories and stories that I could share, but in general, I simply love working with all the people who are committed to the mission of CAMP Rehoboth. This is really a grassroots organization and those folks who come to work, to get their hands dirty so to say, are the best. There’s always laughter, fellowship, hugs, and a determination to make Rehoboth Beach the best place to live because of its diversity, and CAMP Rehoboth is the heart of this wonderful community we call home.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth in our 25 years, which is your favorite and why?
I think the chorus concerts. I went to their first concert and there were only about 20 voices in the chorus. Over the last four years, I’ve watched the group not only grow in numbers but also in talent. I love music, and seeing them evolve into the largest choral group in Delaware has been exciting. It’s a group that embodies what our mission at CAMP Rehoboth seeks—diversity…gay, lesbian, straight all coming together to make beautiful music. What a great Outreach Program and a visible testimony to the success of CAMP Rehoboth when they share their blended voices to packed houses. It’s a wonderful story that gives me goose bumps!
Other than CAMP Rehoboth, tell us about another meaningful volunteer experience…
When I started volunteering with Camp Shriver (later Special Olympics) in the mid 60s, there were no textbooks on special education or physical training for people with cognitive disabilities. Mrs. Shriver was a visionary and used her camp to expand opportunities and changed the world for people with disabilities. Specifically, I was impacted by the 1995 World Summer Games in New Haven, CT. One of the athletes I trained and coached was going to run in the very first Special Olympics Marathon! When I first volunteered in Mrs. Shriver’s backyard most people, doctors, and books cautioned us that people with cognitive disabilities could not run more than 10 yards. Here I was standing now on the track and one of my athletes was going to run 27 miles. He not only was cognitively impaired, he was also legally blind! It only took us 30 years to go from 10 yards to 27 miles, but what an accomplishment!
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
All of them, but if I have to pick one it would be fall. The off season brings such a different feeling and living experience to the beach. We still have warm days to enjoy the beach and cool nights to enjoy the evenings in town. The hustle and bustle of summer season is gone and all of our residents also enter a more peaceful, slowed pace.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up…
I had strong women heroes: Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and finally Eunice Kennedy Shriver. As I stated before, she lead the way for my two passions in life: working with special needs children and the Special Olympics. All three of these women taught me to not be afraid and to believe one woman can change the world.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
I would spend it with my family. They had and continue to have such a strong influence on me. My cousins are the best. They were my first friends and continue to be my best friends. There just never seems to be enough time for us to share together.
Best year of your life and why?
This year, today, I am alive and love every day I’m given. I know every day I have is a gift!
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime and why or why not?
To be honest, NO! I lived and taught in an area, considered southern. The fear of coming out and what that meant for your life, job, relationships was tangible, so I didn’t come out until mid-life and then not out to everyone. So I really felt and believed that living “out” meant living in fear and rejection. Moving to Rehoboth Beach has been a gift, and I didn’t realize what being free of fear and rejection would mean for me until I moved here.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today?
Growing up in the DC area during the 60s with all the civil rights activities; getting my teaching certificate and teaching job; coming out and moving to Rehoboth Beach!
Describe an ideal date night…
Quiet dinner in town, movie, and a walk on the beach!
What are you most thankful for?
There’s a sign I gave a dear friend and then bought for myself, “FAITH, FAMILY, and FOOTBALL!” Basketball runs a close fourth! Those who know me well know this is my truth!
Mickie, you have been, and continue to be, a very valuable asset of CAMP Rehoboth! We are indebted to your many contributions and offer you our sincere thanks.