Ask her friends and family to describe Mindy Wilkins and they use words like “caring.” “Friendly.” “Giving.”
“Mindy has one of the biggest hearts in the community,” her friend Susan Mendenhall said. “Whenever she hears of someone in need, she immediately starts to galvanize the community and bring people together to help them. She’s been doing this for years.”
For instance, when Wilkins heard about the landslide in Oso, Washington, several years ago, she organized a bake sale and raised $4,000 for the victims.
“She said it’s a small community like ours and we should do something for them,” Pamela Cumbie recalled.
Usually, though, Wilkins’ focus is on the Key Peninsula.
In addition to an untold number of bake sales, Wilkins has also organized carwashes, rummage sales, giving trees and other activities to help people in need on the Key. She’s also given free haircuts to many KP kids who couldn’t afford to pay her.
“She’ll go to the school counselor and find families on the free lunch program and cut the kids’ hair for free, all the way up through high school,” Mindy’s husband Bob Wilkins, 68, said.
Now Mindy Wilkins herself needs help.
In April, she’ll have major surgery to fix some internal problems and, at the same time, carpal tunnel surgery to repair her wrist that’s painfully stiff from 30-plus years of –– as she puts it –– “doing hair” at her Cutter Bug shop.
And, in true Mindy spirit, she’s not asking for help.
So her friends and family are doing what Wilkins, 51, so often does for others: they’re organizing bake sales and raffles and other events to help pay the thousands of dollars of hospital bills she’s facing.
For starters, her children have set up a GoFundMe account for her.
“Our mom is known for the countless charitable events she’s supported and promoted over the years,” her kids wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Now she needs your help.”
With a $6,500 deductible on her medical insurance and anticipated medical expenses of at least $14,000, Wilkins and her husband Bob will be taking a big financial hit.
They’ve been tucking away a little bit of money every month to pay for the surgeries, but there’s still a big deficit to make up for, plus the prospect of Wilkins being away from her shop for several months while she recovers.
“And even if I’m not in the shop cutting hair, I still have to pay rent,” she said.
“This is hard for me. Your whole life can turn upside down in a single split second. I didn’t ask for help, but people are kind of stepping up,” she said.
Mendenhall is inviting others to join in with fundraisers of their own. “We hope more people in the community will want to spearhead their own events at a church or restaurant or local business,” she said.
Even as friends and family are doing things to help her, in typical fashion Wilkins is putting together a bake sale for somebody else in the community who needs help, Cumbie said. “She really doesn’t want to take credit for stuff and she doesn’t want to have her name out there. She likes to be in the background.”
“This is all so embarrassing for me,” Wilkins said. “I’m just not used to being on this side of it. I’m used to being the one who is giving. Not taking.”
She’s even thinking of her regular customers who’ll miss her services for a couple of months. “While I’m gone from Cutter Bug, I would like for my clients to go to Nita at The Yankee Clipper or any of the ladies at Shear Magic,” she said.
“It’s really such an honor to be able to help Mindy,” Cumbie said. “She has the biggest, most giving heart of anybody out here. She’s one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
“I really think she should be the Key Peninsula Citizen of the Year.”
To donate to Mindy Wilkins’ GoFundMe account, go to https://www.gofundme.com/q4nj9ngc
If you’re interested in starting a fundraising event for Mindy, contact Sue Mendenhall on Facebook at Sue Freiler Mendenhall.