Shirley Gilbert Shafer, of Egg Harbor Township, calls herself “Miss Holly Wood” and admits she is not shy.

“I like dancing and singing. I like to participate,” said the 64-year-old, who taught herself to walk about 20 years ago after being told since childhood it wouldn’t be possible.

Shafer will perform two songs, including Harry Haines’ “16 Candles,” in the Arc of Atlantic County’s Spotlight Players Group show Sunday at the Jewish Community Center in Margate. The 30-member group is a performing arts club for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Shafer has overcome great obstacles. At age 2, she was placed in the Vineland State School, and released at age 21 to live with a family member. She later moved to Atlantic County and in 1990 found the Arc, which helped give her the support needed to learn to walk, using crutches she named Bert and Ernie.

She developed friendships, joined in activities, found a job and purchased her own condo. Through it all — including two bouts with cancer — she's had the assistance of Arc, and now lives in a supervised condominium, she said.

The Spotlight Players, directed by Rebecca Eisele, of Egg Harbor Township, is in its fifth year and ninth performance. It is designed to help Arc clients try new and challenging things.

Shafer has certainly embraced the idea.

“At 64, I still can get my boogie on, get my groove on, and get down with my bad self,” she said.

Hospital honors volunteer

Alice Washington, of West Cape May, is Cape Regional Medical Center’s “Special Touch Volunteer” for the third quarter of 2012, for her work as an EtCetera Thrift Shop volunteer.

Washington retired from the Cape May County Office of Social Services in 1995, and has contributed 4,500 volunteer hours since 1996.

Two join Vineland YMCA board

Vineland residents Jill Lombardo-Melchiore and Mike Epifanio have joined the YMCA of Vineland's board of directors.

Lombardo-Melchiore is the director of grants management at Bethel Development Corp. in Millville, and former director of Cumberland County College's Center for Leadership, Community and Neighborhood Development.

Epifanio has published The Grapevine since 2008. His relationship with the YMCA began when he attended preschool there about 40 years ago, he said.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


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