Today, Mike Melsheimer, who founded B4U-ACT along with board chair Russell Dick in 2003, would have been 80 years old. Mike was born August 21, 1942 in Jacksonville, FL, the son of the late Richard L. and Nancy R. Ison Melsheimer. He spent his career working in the social services sector. In 1993, he moved to Maryland to seek mental health services from Dr. Fred Berlin in his effort to live authentically and productively as an “out” MAP. Through his volunteer work at a state psychiatric hospital, he met Russell Dick, then a social worker at the hospital, who went on to become the Director of Social Work.
As the two of them became close friends, they became convinced of the need for a non-profit organization to promote the understanding and humane treatment of minor-attracted people within the mental health field. In 2002, Mike launched a one-man campaign which incessantly challenged the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration (as it was called at that time) to identify a single mental health practitioner or agency in the state that publicly advertised services for “persons like myself” before they broke the law. His dogged persistence resulted in a small annual grant from the state to establish and maintain B4U-ACT, develop a hotline to connect MAPs with therapists in Maryland, and sponsor workshops for practitioners. Mike also successfully procured from the IRS the 501(c)3 status for the organization.
Mike’s advocacy work was not limited to MAPs. His volunteer work at the Maryland state psychiatric hospital involved championing the rights of the patients there. He also received local media coverage for calling public attention to safety issues at the low-income housing complex for senior citizens in which he lived.
After serving as Director of Operations for B4U-ACT for seven years, Mike’s deteriorating health forced him to step down, but he continued to influence the organization’s vision and direction by participating in its events as much as he could. On July 15, 2010, Mike died peacefully after battling emphysema for several years.