We continue our Community Helper series by recognizing a man who has become very well-known in the community through his volunteer efforts. Dan Miller of Shawano has helped a number of agencies and volunteered on many boards, in order to help make the surrounding community a better place to live. Miller says he enjoys giving his time and walking in the footsteps of those he looked up to.
“The journey started really when I entered the business world,” said Miller of his path to volunteerism. “My first job or two, I started volunteering, kind of following up on my father and my father in-law, who both were very active in their communities. They set a good example and right after that I kind of followed along.”
Focused on helping to improve economic development, Dan Miller explains he found his passion at a time when many local economies were struggling not long ago.
“Right now, and it has been for quite a while, economic development has been one of my passions, since the end of the recession back in 2009,” Miller said. “Communities were in a little dilemma, unemployment was rising, so we just started to think a little differently of where the needs were and where we could help make a difference.”
It can sometimes prove to be a challenge when you give as much time as Miller has over the years, but he’s grateful for having such a strong support system around him that understand his work.
“Volunteering is made so much easier when you’ve got a good support structure around you,” said Miller of his work. “In this case, my family was always there, they knew what dad was up to, his commitment to these different organizations, so they tried to adjust there schedules and things. With a family, you’re always moving things around. They allowed me to prioritize my volunteerism first and then naturally you go from there. There were supportive of me and they understood what I was trying to do.”
Thursday night, Dan Miller was named the 2016 Distinguished Citizen of the year by the Shawano Country Chamber, an honor he’s not taking for granted.
“It’s makes you feel even more connected to the community that you serve and that is really how I feel,” said Miller after being honored with the 2016 Distinguished Citizen award. “It was another way of connecting with the fine people of Shawano Country.”
Through his experience, Miller says by volunteering not only are you providing a service to the community, but you also can learn a lot about yourself.
“Volunteerism is also a great way for personal growth,” Miller explained. “You come in contact with a lot of great people, progressive people. You learn a lot about what makes a community tick. I just kind of over the years gravitated a little bit more towards economic development because when people are employed, jobs are available, and it just strengthens the ability of the community to care for itself.”
It can sometimes be difficult to get a start devoting your time. There’s always a reason not to do something, but Dan Miller offers his advice to those thinking about becoming involved in the community.
“If you have a passion for something, you can truly start there,” Miller recommended. “If you are unsure about what you would like to do, you can reach out to numerous agencies and non-profits that would be more than glad to sit down with you and talk about what they do, and maybe you can align with your thoughts. Then really, it comes down to if you sense there is a need in the community that is not being met, and it’s important to you, then take off with it.”
Dan Miller, the 2016 Shawano Country Distinguished Citizen of the Year, and this week’s Community Helper.