Local volunteer loves the reward of volunteering

City man loves volunteering to help others

By Kalea Hall



Within a few minutes of talking with Tom Miller, he will bring up, with pride, his family – including two granddaughters who hold the key to his heart – and his work with the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley as a volunteer.

Miller doesn’t just like volunteering – he loves it.

He spends a lot of time at Youngstown Community School on Essex Street on the South Side, where he encourages children to keep up their grades and helps to pass out boxes of food through United Way’s food-bank program at the school.

“I think I get more reward out of it than maybe the children do,” he said. “You kind of get hooked on it.”

Miller, 64, is a native North Sider and Ursuline graduate who grew up with nine siblings and hard-working parents.

His parents, the late Donald “Dutch” Miller and Sally Miller, influenced his character.

“They just did everything right,” he said.

He also was influenced at Ursuline.

“There were some people there that I admired,” he said.

Specifically, Miller looked up to the Rev. John P. Ashton, former principal of Ursuline, and his basketball coach, Frank Beck.

Miller, today, recognizes the importance of having role models, and now he is one of those role models.

His coach would tell him, “You don’t win games by being lucky; you win games by hard work and preparation and doing your job.”

Through the United Way, Miller mentors children at Youngstown Community School when their report cards come out.

“I convey that message to the kids when I am doing report-card mentoring,” he said. “I tell them you are not going to bring your grade up from D to C by being lucky. You have to work hard and study and be prepared for the next test.”

Miller got started volunteering with the United Way about five years ago through a backpack program. Volunteers would put bags of food inside a backpack and give it to students in need. Today, Youngstown Community School has a food bank. Once a month, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley delivers eight pallets of food for distribution.

“What we do – myself and other volunteers – is there’s a lot of people who can’t carry the boxes themselves,” Miller said. “We carry it out for them.”

Volunteering with the United Way also has taken Miller to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Covelli Centre.

He also lends a hand for parties and events for the United Way.

“They do need a lot of support and volunteers,” Miller said. “I would encourage anyone just to give it a try. I think the greatest gift I can give to United Way is my time, and I think it’s the greatest gift anyone can give.”

Bob Hannon, president of the United Way, said having volunteers such as Miller is a must.

“The children need those role models in their lives,” he said.

A sixth-grade student at YCS who wants to be a doctor wanted some biology books. Miller was able to get the books for the student so she can work toward her goal.

“It’s building a bond with the children,” Hannon said. “We are giving them hope.”

Finding dedicated volunteers, Hannon said, is challenging.

“Once you come to the school and see the children, it’s contagious,” Hannon said. “The kids are awesome and they need support.”

To volunteer at the United Way, go to: https://www.ymvunitedway.org/volunteer.

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