Dolphin spent 10 years working with members of the Interact Club House, a program run by Four Corners Community Behavioral Health to help adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses. Many of the club members are homeless. And when Dolphin left the job two years ago, she couldn’t just forget about the people she’d worked with for so long.
“You have this bond,” she said. “When you’re with them for as many years, as I was, you can’t just shut that off.”
During the last two years, Dolphin has continued to extend a helping hand to club members. Each month, she meets with some of them for dinner.
“We might make dinner or have pizza,” she said.
One of the members recently asked Dolphin for help cleaning the carpets at his apartment. According to Dolphin, he’d been given the opportunity to see his son, whom he hadn’t seen for several years, but his carpets were dirty.
“I helped him shampoo his carpets so he could get visitation,” she said. “I may work 40- plus hours a week, but to me, it was so worth it to hear that joy in his voice when he called me the next day.”
Dolphin also has opened her home to local students who might need a place to go for lunch.
“My kids always knew that our doors were open,” she said.
Dolphin said she even put a white board on the wall so students who stopped by for lunch could request certain items.
“Our house was a safe haven,” she said.
Dolphin has volunteered within the schools, taking on different volunteer roles as her children grew.
“I was the room mom every year for my kids when they were younger,” she said.
Now her youngest son is a senior at Grand County High School. Her husband, Ron, is the athletics director at GCHS, so Dolphin spends a lot of time at high school games, cheering on the players.
“They know me as Mama Mel,” she said. “I love being in the stands so that they can look up and see me and know that I’m there cheering for them. Not all of them have that support.”
In 2005, life threw Dolphin a curveball. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“At first I was just going to let it run its course,” she said. “But my kids were young, and they wouldn’t let me. They went to every appointment with me.”
Dolphin is now a cancer survivor, and she serves as co-chairperson of the local Relay for Life event, which raises money for cancer research.
“It’s something I feel really passionate about,” she said, adding that her father died from cancer as well. “A lot of people didn’t even realize I’d had cancer until I wore a survivor shirt at [the] Relay [event].”
Organizing the Moab Relay for Life — which is usually held in early August — is not an easy task – it takes months of planning and many volunteers.
“We meet for eight months,” Dolphin said.
She also serves as the captain of her relay team, meaning she’s in charge of coming up with decorations for their campsite. “I have a hard time delegating,” she said.
This year, at the Aug. 8-9 relay, Dolphin said she was joined by her son-in-law’s best friend who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 22.
“He had his last treatment, and he was able to come walk,” she said. “This year meant a lot to me.”
Although Dolphin is involved each year in many activities in the Moab community, she doesn’t really feel that she’s doing anything out of the ordinary by giving so much of her time.
“How do you say no?” she said.