Mildred Schmelz has been named as the 2024 Distinguished Older Georgian by the Georgia Council on Aging. She has been an advocate for older adults and individuals with disabilities for more than 50 years. The Distinguished Older Georgian Award was created in 2003 by the Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA) to honor a positive role model over 70 years of age who has rendered service to seniors on a large scale and/or has made significant contributions to society through occupational or volunteer efforts.
A Georgia native, Mrs. Schmelz was educated at Albany Junior College, Emory School of Law, the National Center for Paralegal Training, and Strayer University. She has worked for the likes of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc., the In-house–Counsel Division of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and Fulton County Government. Mrs. Schmelz began her advocacy work as a family law paralegal and administrative law paralegal representing battered women and individuals with disabilities. She continued her work as an advocate on the Henry County Planning and Zoning Board and as Chair of the Henry County Council on Aging, Inc. where she organized the first visit by Henry County seniors to the Georgia State Capitol to get them engaged with their State Legislators. She has continued to serve as a guide during legislative sessions.
As a three-time breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Schmelz became a founding member and board member of the Harbor of Hope, Inc., a cancer support group. She and other advocates were successful in creating the first cancer wellness center at Piedmont Henry Hospital and the first boutique providing hats, scarves, wigs, bras, prosthesis, etc. for cancer patients and survivors, free of charge. She has organized voter registration drives, visited nursing homes where she provided applications for absentee ballots, and continues her advocacy by speaking to community organizations, non-profits, and voters regarding voting rights for seniors and individuals with disabilities. She has served on numerous boards including the Oakhurst Community Health Center as well as the Initiative for Affordable Housing and has received countless awards such as the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award and the Ambassador for Peace Award (Universal Peace Foundation). She is married to Dennis Schmelz, has two adult sons and two grandchildren. She enjoys quality family time, antiquing, reading and politics. Mrs. Schmelz was recognized during GCOA’s Senior Day at the Capitol event.
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