Naomi is Awarded Robert M. Pitzer Award
Naomi was presented the 2016 Robert M Pitzer Award by by Reverend Sharon McCart, chair of the DisAbilities Committee in October, 2016 at Chapelwood United Methodist Church. The award is given for “providing exemplary leadership in furthering the inclusion of persons with disabilities in our communities, our churches, and our world.”
In addition to working tirelessly in her local church, establishing the Disability Concerns Committee in the Texas Annual Conference, helping Texas Methodist churches become more inclusive, working in emergency relief in the city of Houston and serving as a phone resource person for churches starting a disability ministry, she started a website to provide disability resources naomimitchum.com.
Although her previous books and curriculum were published by mainstream press, Naomi started a small publishing company to produce “Quick Look” disability materials to provide concise, practical information. The first is for volunteer emergency first responders. The second, EVERY CHILD CAN BLOOM IN THE INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM, for Sunday School teachers provides a system and strategies for successful inclusion of children with many types of disabilities. The third, CHEERLEADERS FOR GOD AND OTHER PARTICIPATION STORIES works well for worship in unified groups and other specific disability groups.
Naomi provided helpful content editing of the Leader’s Guide for the United Methodist Women Mission u study on Disability and the Church. She served as an advisor for the curriculum being developed for groups of adults with intellectual disabilities, and provided an outline for a teacher training event based on her book. She has written web and newsletter articles on how churches can prepare to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in the event of a disaster.
The DisAbility Committee said, “She has used her training, interests and skills, along with what she learned as a person living with a disability, to help shape the emerging face of Disability Ministries in the United Methodist church and beyond. We are forever in her debt.”
Award for Naomi Mitchum
Imagine her surprise when the Texas Christian Educators Fellowship awarded Naomi the coveted Dick Murray Award for Excellence in Christian Education at the 2013 annual conference of The United Methodist Church. She said over the years she was just doing what she loved doing and responding to needs. A plaque board to which her name had been added was displayed at her church until the next recipient was chosen. Since middle school when Naomi started hanging out at the church and was "allowed" to be the road runner for attendance folders, she has had a heart and passion for Christian education. No matter what she tried to do, it always ended up in Christian education.
The Mayors Disability Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Naomi Mitchum in December, 2010 culminating twenty years of advocacy in Houston and across the state of Texas. The following proclamation was read at the award ceremony: Naomi Mitchum’s advocacy began by writing books; she has published over 50 student books, teacher books, related resource kits, teacher enrichment articles, as well as many filmstrips and dramas. Her book, Harps in the Willows, was used in Salvation Army Counseling Centers after 9/11. Naomi has led her local church planning and creating awareness of the needs of people with disabilities. She organized a committee in 1995 that visited churches across Texas to help them become more accessible. She has taught over 40 classes at leadership schools and conferences covering accessibility and educational opportunities for people with disabilities. Naomi has worked with organizations to improve and coordinate transportation, select an appropriate voting machine, organized recreational and religious groups to meet special needs, participated in panel discussions and worked in the community with parents to promote disaster preparedness. In her response remarks to the City Council and guests, Mrs. Mitchum said, “The landmark American With Disabilities Act opened many doors, but it didn’t tell us how to walk through those doors, especially in the field of spirituality and church related and educational services. Every door is different with various disabilities and needs. I happened to be in the right places at the right times to urge or aid groups and individuals, so they could walk through the doors. In each instance, dedicated persons with heart stepped up to help.”
More About Naomi
Naomi Mitchum – author, Christian educator and consultant in church special needs – grew up in Parsons, Kansas. After graduating from Baker University with a degree in Christian education, she was employed in Methodist churches in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas then turned her Christian education background into writing. Her specialty, writing curriculum for teenagers and persons who taught them, soon grew to writing plays, books and magazine and newspaper articles. See Naomi’s writing credits .
Naomi retired in July, 2014 after 25 years as volunteer special needs dirctor at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas where she worked with a team of leaders to provide a safe haven of love and acceptance for persons of any age with special needs. She has now gone back to her other day job writing books, and Rampsn’things Press released her new book Every Child Can Bloom in the Inclusive Classroom that speaks to inclusive Sunday School or any teachers of children with special needs. See site link to Special Needs. From 1995 until 1999 she chaired a chronic illness support group that encouraged her to write Harps in the Willows, strengths for reinventing life (Chalice Press, 2000) in which she highlighted some of their stories including her own reinvented life. Traveling with her scientist husband, Bob led her to spend time in Germany, the origin of Rika in The Reluctant Immigrant, as well as many other interesting places. She says she has been lost in Italy, found in Denmark, given wrong directions in Norway, lived in England, and had a blast in many other places. She now lives in Houston. She and Bob, have three children, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren.
Using cheese hot dogs for bait, she fishes in the cold, clear and beautiful Guadalupe River near New Braunfels, Texas, the destination of Rika in The Reluctant Immigrant. She is never bored. Besides writing and fishing, she likes to make and listen to music, teach, write and direct plays, and, since she is passionate about her work with persons with special needs, she writes many skits and books for them.