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.”
Christian Educators Fellowship Award
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.
Mayors Disability Advocate of the Year
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 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.”