Jackie’s Always Ready for Guests
by Sandy Bond
Jackie Schmidt walks more than three miles a day at a rate of 4 to 5 mph to really burn up the miles with her best friend Amanda Overbey.
With her talent as a hair stylist and fingernail stylist she could have become a cosmetologist or a manicurist. She chose a much more important career as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer helping those less fortunate.
Her e-mail address identifies her other avocation, “stepmom2many,” as a surrogate mom, providing a home away from home for those who otherwise may have fallen through the cracks during those traumatic teen years.
The middle daughter of Roger and Sandra Daly, Jackie and her two sisters and one brother grew up in beautiful rural upstate New York.
“My folks simply got tired of the cold,” she said, “and Arizona sounded promising. (They moved) in 1975 when I was 8 years old.”
After graduating from Chandler (Ariz.) High School in 1985, she met and fell in love with Dale Schmidt. Dale was a house painter, but yearned to start his own construction company. They had three children, Ernie, Leah, and Adam. Chandler was growing quickly, even then, and Jackie and Dale did not want to raise their young family in a large city. They moved to Mobridge in 1995 and found a home with huge potential and acres of land on the east side of town. The kids loved Mobridge and pretty soon their friends started showing up at their door at all times of the day and night for Jackie’s legendary Monkey Bread and other goodies. There was always room for one or two more at the dinner table.
By this time Dale had started Schmidt Construction. Even as his fledgling business grew, he was able to find the time to add on to their home. His mom, Betty Schmidt, lives in a house adjacent to their home.
Jackie’s eldest, Ernie, 20, is in the U.S. Army at Ft. Huachuca and has just completed training that will allow him to become an intelligence analyzer. He and his wife, Melissa, live in Vermillion where she is attending the university, majoring in English. Leah, 18, is a senior at Mobridge-Pollock High School.
“She is my best friend,” Jackie said.
Adam, 14, is the fun-loving one, she said.
“He aspires to be just like his big brother,” she said.
A big guy, he plays tackle for the Mobridge-Pollock Tigers.
They also have two dogs and a large aquarium with an aquatic frog and shark and also many different Beta fish tanks.
Always thrifty and a self-described garage sale junkie, Jackie checked out the Mobridge Ministerial Association Thrift Store one Thursday, which just happened to be bag day, when you can get everything you can stuff into a paper sack for $2.50. She ended up “nearly getting trampled to death,” she said.
Children grow like weeds, and Jackie found the best buys on quality duds for the kids and adorable accents for her home. She was hooked and soon became a regular.
“One of the clerks asked if I would like to join them and volunteer,” she said. “We have five volunteers and three paid employees.”
Jackie is one of the unsung workers behind the scenes, sorting through mountains of donations of furniture, toys, housewares, and clothing.
Money raised by MMA goes toward several charities including the food pantry.
“We just finished putting away all our winter inventory and decorating and displaying items for spring in the last two days,” she said. “It was exhausting but fun! The transformation is amazing!”
Her other love is volunteering at Scarecrow Hollow, a haunted house through which a group of volunteers raise money for nonprofit organizations in the area. This haunted house has the distinction of being held in an actual former funeral home, the old Miles Funeral Home and more recently the J.D. Kesling Funeral Home.
“Each year we plan a different theme,” she said, “and each year we hope to make it the worst of the worst.”
With the help of approximately 50 people and with the use of animatronics, special effects and special sound effects, they frighten more than 1,500 visitors each year.
She has portrayed several Goth characters including one of the green ladies from Tim Burton’s film “Beetlejuice.”
“It’s incredibly awesome and it’s fun for the young and young at heart,” she said, “and its not only kids that end up so scared they exit through the chicken door.”
With Jackie always on the run and no idea of how many will appear at her dinner table, she enjoys fast and easy recipes.
“My only culinary catastrophe was when I was cooking my very first Thanksgiving turkey,” she said. “How did I know that the giblets were in a paper sack stuffed in the turkey’s cavity?”
With the Mobridge-Pollock High School prom just around the corner, she always does the hair and makeup and nails of many of Leah’s friends and captures everything on her digital camera.