- - - - - - - - - -
by Susan Geary
When Merilee Mapes Perkins ’76 earned a physical education degree, little did she know that Skidmore would continue to provide a workout. As an alumni volunteer she has given her dialing finger plenty of exercise since graduation. Shortly after earning a master’s degree in motor development from Purdue University in 1977, Perkins became a class agent for Skidmore, helping the Annual Fund by phoning classmates and asking for their contributions. She also became involved in the Boston alumni club, making calls for the club’s scholarship drives and to invite area alumni to club events.
After taking time off to raise daughters Molly and Taylor (now 13 and 10), Perkins rejoined the ranks of Skidmore volunteers. She now serves as her class fund chair; she and her corps of 25 class agents work to achieve class giving goals for the Annual Fund. For its 25th reunion this year, the Class of 1976 hopes to raise $120,000 and reach a 60 percent participation level—“an ambitious goal,” says Perkins. But regular attendance at Skidmore’s volunteer training weekend has helped Perkins hone her skills. She says the Annual Fund workshop—in which role playing and mock phone calls help class agents get over their fears of telephone solicitation—has proved especially useful to her.
Perkins used her Skidmore and Purdue degrees to build a career helping people through physical activity. After teaching elementary physical education, she became a motor-skills development specialist and ran a psychomotor program for kids with low motor ability and poor self-image. She has worked for public schools in Massachusetts and Maine, and for private rehabilitation services. She is currently fitness director of the YMCA in Sanford, Maine, a part-time position that quickly became a full-time effort. In addition to her work at the Y, Perkins volunteers at the local hospital, leads walking and stretching clinics, teaches Sunday school, helps raise funds for the local public elementary school, and has served on the PTA.
Of her many volunteer efforts, Perkins says, “Growing up, my father taught me that it’s what we’re supposed to do. As far as Skidmore is concerned, I volunteer because of the people I met there, the people I continue to meet, and the wonderful education I received. Skidmore was exactly what I needed.”
After Reunion, Perkins plans to continue volunteering for her alma mater, if not as a fund chair, then in some other capacity. Her movement expertise, her easy access to the Y, and her work for Skidmore will no doubt keep her dialing finger in great shape!