Skipwith always lends a helping hand

Jun. 28, 2014 @ 06:50 PM

Michele Skipwith has spent much of her adult life assisting people with disabilities. But when she’s not working, she likes to try her hand at artistic pursuits.

“I started at an early age,” she said. “I enjoy artwork and crafts.”

Evidence of her artistic talent decorates the yard of her home on South Chestnut Street.

Standing on the lawn are three ceramic geese. Most of the year they stand unadorned in their various poses. But on special occasions, they wear decorations appropriate for the season.

“During holidays I try to change stuff around,” Skipwith said.

As the Fourth of July approaches, the geese are wearing patriotic ribbons around their necks.

And a small tableau beside the front steps has kittens sitting among patriotic colors. That’s Skipwith’s “Hello Kitty” panorama.

In a garden area next to the house stand three lions, each wearing a ribbon with one of the Independence Day colors.

A large red-white-and-blue bow hangs on the front door of the house.

Photoelectric lights are placed along the edges of the garden and front walk to provide illumination when darkness falls.

Skipwith has lived in Henderson most of her 44 years. She was born in Jersey City, N.J. and attended elementary school there.

“I moved to North Carolina in the eighth grade to help my grandmother take care of my grandfather,” she said.

That responsibility continued until her grandfather died, but her assistance had made life easier for her grandparents.

After moving to Henderson, Skipwith attended Eaton-Johnson Middle School before moving on to Vance Senior High School, now called Northern Vance High School.

In high school, she had opportunities to build on her artistic talents, especially in her home economic classes.

“I took classes in sewing and cake decorating,” she said.

Since graduating, she has worked as resident support staff with Guardian Angel Healthcare, United Support and Premier Women’s Health Professionals.

With these organizations, she tended to the needs of adults with disabilities.

Skipwith is investigating the possibility of providing alternative family living to care for a person with developmental disabilities in her home. It has been described as foster care for adults. The person in her care would live as a family member while developing the skills needed to live independently in the community.

She will draw on her experience as well as her faith to provide the service.

.“Michele has been a member for probably about 11 years,” Pastor Joann Allen of Divine Habitat Ministries said. “She’s very creative.”

Allen said Skipwith is very willing to help on church activities. “She’s done several weddings. She decorated the reception hall.”

Skipwith said she enjoys making flower arrangements and decorations for weddings and parties.

She is raising three children as she balances work, church activities and her artistic activities.

“We encourage her,” Allen said, adding that Skipwith would be an asset for a florist. “She does flower arrangements. She’s made wreaths.”

Whether at home, at church or for special occasions, Skipwith enjoys adding a colorful touch to the things in her life and in the lives of others.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.