YMCA honors longtime community leader

Steve Miner presents the Blossman YMCA Humanitarian Award to Mickey Williams as emcee Todd Trenchard looks on.
Steve Miner presents the Blossman YMCA Humanitarian Award to Mickey Williams as emcee Todd Trenchard looks on. Special to the Sun Herald

The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA honored Mickey Williams with the 8th Annual John R. Blossman Humanitarian Award at a banquet held Tuesday night at the Beau Rivage.

Williams is credited with spearheading numerous successful community projects and programs throughout South Mississippi over a four-decade period.

“This recognition is not about me, it’s about you,” Williams told the close to 450 attendees, which organizers said was a record for the event. “You are the ones I tried to keep pace with. You are my mentors … I’ve just been along for the ride.”

Earlier, before the event began, Williams told the Sun Herald: “It’s a pleasure to be associated with the YMCA and other organizations with the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I think we’ve got some great things going on here, and it’s going to get better.”

Along with having served as President of the YMCA’s board of directors, Williams held strong leadership roles, mostly in fundraising and marketing, with numerous organizations such as United Way chapters of South Mississippi and Jackson/George counties, Rotary Club of Ocean Springs, the Ocean Springs Chamber, the Historic Ocean Springs Association, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center and others. He was instrumental in helping renovate the old Ocean Springs High School into the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education.

“I’m new on the scene, but I’ve gotten to know Mickey very well coming right in the door, because he’s always at the Y,” said Rob Kirkland, who’s been CEO of the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA for less than a year. “He’s helped by being involved in some of our fundraising for our youth development center, to help serve our kids. It just seems like every circle I walk into, Mr. Mickey’s always there, he has great impact to the community and the Y.”

Attorney Anthony Del Vescovo said of Williams: “He has not only dedicated his life to making differences, but has also inspired us to make differences.”

Williams spoke about how he parlayed his customer service skills as a banker for 31 years into his community endeavors.

“Part of a good banker is taking good care of their customers and trying to meet their needs,” Williams said. “You just take that a step further and try to help folks in their community, so I enjoy volunteering and reaching out to my neighbors in Ocean Springs.”

Williams said he is genuinely proud of the many services the YMCA has such as pre-school and after-school programs, aquatics programs, STEM classes, a diabetes prevention program, summer camps and others.

“The YMCA is a great resource for children when it comes to education as far as trying to make them enjoy the principles of life, such as character, respect, being on time and treating people the right way,” Williams said.

Former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott was among those who gave warm video testimonies about Williams, along with former Gulfport mayor George Schloegel, bank executive Royce Cumbest and Williams’ son, Clay.

The YMCA event was also raising funds for its Strong Kids Campaign. More than $3,650 was raised from the event’s silent auction.