February 26, 2003
Dorsey-Wilson honored for years of giving to community, kids
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—A Methodist Rehabilitation Center employee with a reputation for reaching out will soon be rewarded for her contributions to Mississippi’s children and youth. At a luncheon on March 5, Betty Dorsey-Wilson, a rehab technician at the Jackson hospital, will be a recipient of the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence (GIVE) award.
No one at the Jackson hospital is surprised at Dorsey-Wilson’s achievement.
“It’s not even that she puts so much time into so many different activities,” said Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services at Methodist Rehab. “It’s that she’s so successful at everything she does.”
Since becoming scoutmaster for the hospital’s own Troop 401 in 1998, Dorsey-Wilson has seen seven of her scouts reach the lofty position of Eagle—with five more on the brink.
Methodist Rehab began Troop 401 to provide a creative outlet for kids with disabilities, said Steve Hope, vice president of corporate services. “The idea was to enhance the lives of those kids with disabilities,” he said.
While Dorsey-Wilson now wears a wood badge—a symbol of scouting excellence—she knew nothing about scouting when she first took the job. But she was eager to learn. “I took weekend classes and eventually took more serious classes. I knew I wanted to do the best I could with this. I knew there was a need for scouting,” she said.
Although most members of the troop are able-bodied, disability awareness remains one of the building blocks of membership. New members are required to study public buildings and stores to see how accessible they may or may not be. “We want them to put themselves in the place of someone in a wheelchair. We want them to always be aware of what the world looks like to a person with a disability,” she added.
More than that, she teaches them independence, said Walker. “She sees to it that they work for what they get. If they want to go to camp, she teaches them to do their own fundraising to make it happen. All of her kids will be much better prepared for the real world because of what she’s done for them.”
Dorsey-Wilson is largely being recognized for her work with Troop 401. But that’s only the tip of her volunteerism, says Walker.
Each year, Dorsey-Wilson is in charge of Black History Month activities at Methodist Rehab. And each year, it gets bigger.
“I’ve learned a lot about my heritage from this,” she said. “But I’ve also learned a lot about other people’s heritage. Rather than just Black history, we’ve embraced diversity and other heritages.
“I tell people that if they’ll just bring me a couple of pages of information about their heritage, we’ll find a way to include it,” she added.
“Betty organizes sports teams at the hospital and every year, she’s the driving force behind our Black History Month celebrations at Methodist Rehab,” she said. “She’s done it all while holding down a full-time job, managing a family and taking chemo treatments.”
Dorsey-Wilson is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed a month before attending her first Boy Scout camp. “She told the kids if she didn’t give up, they couldn’t give up either,” said Walker. “She’s inspirational.”