Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in a little town in Indiana called Farmersburg – about 10-15 miles south of Terre Haute, Indiana.
Q: Did you grow up on a farm?
A: No, but my grandfather owned a feed mill. We stayed there until I was 12 and then we moved to Indianapolis.
Q: What have you done in your past professional life?
A: I went to school to be a teacher, but that only lasted for about six months. I tried to teach sixth grade, but it just didn’t click. Teaching just wasn’t for me. I was much better on the phone, dealing with the public. Later, I worked in insurance billing for a health organization called St. Francis Health System in Tulsa, Okla.
Q: So, how did you get to Oklahoma?
A: I got married in my late 20s. I married a cowboy who was into quarter-horse racing. There weren’t many tracks for that in Indiana, so we moved and I spent 30 years in Oklahoma and worked for St. Francis out there for about 25 years as a claims processor. I was almost 66 when the company made a lot of changes. My mom was in Florida by herself. At that point, I wasn’t married anymore and there wasn’t any reason to keep me in Oklahoma, so I moved to Florida.
Q: Did you ride horses when you were in Oklahoma?
A: Oh yeah. We used to belong to a Roundup Club when I was married. It was a fun group and we learned to do barrel racing and things like that on a non-competitive basis. I would ride the horses that we trained.
Q: When did you move to Florida?
A: I moved here in 2014 and retired from St. Francis that year.
Q: That’s a big transition geographically, as well as to retire from work.
A: (Laughter) That’s why I sometimes forget and call people who come to MDC “patients” instead of “guests.” I had done doctor’s claims while I worked, so that’s where that comes from.
Q: What did you study in college?
A: I got a degree in education at Indiana State University and a master’s degree in education at Indiana University. I worked and went to school at night. My daughter was born the year Indiana State and Michigan State went head to head in college basketball with [future Basketball Hall of Famers] Larry Bird playing against Magic Johnson.
Q: How did you start volunteering at MDC?
A: Because my mother, Lois Strong, was volunteering at MDC when I got here. She worked at the front desk back when MDC was in the [modular units] on the North Causeway. She told me about it and I started volunteering here in fall 2014, working at the Welcome Desk. I live here with Mother, who’s 91, and needs my help.
Q: What do you like about volunteering?
A: I like it because of what MDC stands for in the environment. I also like trying to help animals. I’m all about that. I go with another lady every other Wednesday and we take feral cats up to Daytona Beach to have them spayed and neutered. We work in the transportation of the animals. I have a cat and I always have my animals spayed and neutered.
Q: You have become a “regular” at the Welcome Desk.
A: Yes, and I met [MDC volunteer] Linda Campbell, who’s also in the circle at my church. We work well together. Linda is more of a “people person” and I’m more of a task person. I like to work with the money and receipts.
Q: What do you appreciate the most about your work here?
A: I love meeting all the people from all the places they come from. I also volunteer at our church boutique store at Coronado Methodist. The thrift shop there raises money for the church and I help as a cashier.
Q: What makes you want to spend time in different places giving up your time?
A: I feel like this is a very worthwhile organization and so is the church. I also help with the Community Thanksgiving Meal each year in New Smyrna. My mom also did that. She was the “Pie Lady” at that event for years and got me involved. In addition, I volunteer at the Food Pantry in Edgewater.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: Not really, other than I play a domino game called Mexican Train with a group of women once a week. I enjoy reading, going to movies and Silver Sneakers exercise classes. This year, I plan to go to some Daytona Beach Tortugas baseball games. I’m looking forward to that.
Q: When you come to MDC, is there something that you feel really good about?
A: I love all the eco-tours and I love it when we’re busy and the boat tours and kayak tours fill up with a lot of guests. I like to see people happy and having a good time.
Q: Has there been a highlight at MDC?
A: I love the History Mystery Tour on the boat because I enjoy learning about the history of New Smyrna Beach. I’ll do that again. And I’m a big animal lover. I have compassion for people, but probably even more for animals, so that makes it fun to be here.