David Miller, Director of Volunteer Program 2008 – 2016
Q: What was your greatest accomplishment at Neighbors?
A: As a result of a volunteer-focused culture, Neighbors attained national blue-ribbon recognition for effective community engagement in 2014.
Q: What attracted you to Neighbors?
A: My first experience with Neighbors was going to my job interview with John Kemp, the executive director, from whom I learned what good leadership looks like. I drove up to an unassuming brick building when Neighbors was located on 13th Ave. It was bustling outside with activity–people carrying bags of groceries and clothing to their cars. When I entered the main office I was impressed with everyone’s sincere warmth. Staff and volunteers were smiling and greeting people and having friendly conversations. I sat down next to a gentleman who was there for his food shelf appointment. We spoke together for some time as if we had known each other forever. It was this sense of community and giving that really attracted me to working at Neighbors. There was a feeling that this wasn’t going to be a job, but a lifestyle. The staff and volunteers were there to do everything we could to help those in need, even offering a friendly smile and listening ear. Neighbors wasn’t a flashy organization like nonprofits providing similar services–it was there for one reason: to help others. And, it was that first experience with Neighbors that I knew I was home!
Q: Why do you think Neighbors is important to the community?
A: Neighbors is rooted in the community through its people–those that give and those that receive. Those that receive will many times come back to give. It’s a cycle of giving and the gratitude of those receiving that makes this nonprofit organization unique. Showing up to Neighbors every day was to be inspired by the goodness of people. Places like Neighbors, and the people that support its mission, are needed now more than ever and that is why Neighbors is important.
Q: What has been the biggest milestone at Neighbors in the last 50 years?
A: Part of its longevity is because Neighbors hasn’t forgotten why it exists. It started out as neighbors helping neighbors during a challenging time back in the 1970’s. Today, the challenges have increased for everyday people, and while the services may have changed slightly, the mission of Neighbors remains to make the community a better place. And to me, that is the biggest milestone of all–50 years of neighbors helping neighbors.
Q: What are you up to now?
After Neighbors, I went to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, a longtime supporter of Neighbors and its work in the community. I am in the field of corporate social impact and sustainability. I carry with me many lessons from Neighbors in my current role: a recognition that it’s the people that are most important to an organization, and a focus on the customer as the reason behind making every decision.
“To all my friends and family in the Neighbors community: thank you for providing food and clothing to those in their time of need; and thank you for impacting the heart of this one person for a lifetime.” – David