The 2012 Governor's Service Awards have been bestowed upon Miller and seven other Hoosier individuals and organizations, including one of the state's leading automotive companies and a Marine veteran who has given 20,000 hours of community service over 40 years.
The awards honor the exemplary work of statewide nominees on behalf of their communities and the state. The 2012 awards were issued at an awards dinner Monday, Oct. 1 at the Governor's Residence in Indianapolis.
Miller received the National Service Member Award.
"It was a very humbling experience," she told the Banner Graphic Tuesday, "and also at the same time, it was nice to be recognized as a leader and someone who has taken the extra time and interest in the Food Pantry."
Miller was a member of the Putnam County Retired Senior Volunteer Program in 2006, when she asked to be assigned to the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry. She's never left.
Her early experiences at the Food Pantry motivated Miller to take a more active role, and she has served as board president and director of the Food Pantry since late in 2008.
In that time, she has given more than 3,000 volunteer hours to the pantry.
"It takes a lot to beg for donations and contributions," Miller said, "but during my time we've gotten a new place and had a van donated to us."
She also has spent a lot of time and effort on getting out the word about the Food Pantry and its needs, speaking to local clubs, organizations and schools.
"It takes a lot of outside activity just to keep the Food Pantry going," she noted. "But it's not just me, it's taken all the volunteers to keep it going, I'm just the leader."
Receiving the award alongside the other Hoosiers of note was quite humbling, Miller acknowledged.
"I was thrilled to be there with all the other winners," she said. "It was awesome to chat with them and get some new ideas to help us."
This year more than 500 households have been served by the Food Pantry with some 70,000 meal items donated and distributed.
"I certainly don't do it for this kind of accolade," Miller said. "But it certainly means a lot to be recognized, not just for me but for the Food Pantry as well."
She also enjoyed sharing the moment with her family, noting that from her great-granddaughter to her oldest son, they were all on hand at Indianapolis.
"I think they learned a lot about what I do," she said. "I don't think they had any idea."
The other 2012 Governor's Service Award winners were:
Volunteer Award -- Krystal Shirrell, Brownsburg.
After her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Shirrell's commitment to service was reinforced. In 2009, she started LAP PALS, a project to knit patriotic lap blankets for servicemen undergoing dialysis. As founder of VETSupport, her service continued with monthly bingo for homeless veterans, collection drives for comfort items and supplies, more than 15,000 thank-you pictures distributed to troops and veterans, Christmas trees and care packages sent to troops in Afghanistan.
Faith-based Volunteer Award -- Eugene Potter, Indianapolis.
As assistant pastor at Mt. Zion Apostolic Church, Potter has led collaborations with numerous local organizations to serve criminal offenders from the time of their incarceration to their return to civilian life. Potter's focus is on long-term rehabilitation for his clients.
Youth Volunteer Award -- Amber Kriech, Carmel.
Kriech started volunteering almost as soon as she could walk, first collecting shoes for kids in third-world countries through a program at St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Now in high school, her service work includes collecting more than 4,000 food items and 2,000 books to benefit the East Tenth United Methodist Church Children and Youth Center.
Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award -- Bob McIntosh, Jeffersonville.
Friends and colleagues estimate McIntosh has served nearly 20,000 hours as a volunteer in his 40 years of service. McIntosh has volunteered with the Clark County United Way since 1974. In 2012, after March tornadoes devastated Southeast Indiana, he took a leading role in relief efforts, providing 4,000 hours of safety training to volunteers who provide debris removal and other services.
Service Learning Award -- Jagdish Khubchandani, Muncie.
Khubchandani is an assistant professor of Community Health Education at Ball State University, a post he's held since 2010. The university selected Khubchandani as an inaugural Faculty Fellow for its Global Health Institute for 2011-12. His students have combined for 10,000 hours of community service to date.
Community of Service Award -- Irvington Terrace Neighborhood, Indianapolis.
Irvington Terrace consists of about 425 homes on the east side of Indianapolis and had battled abandoned storefronts and blighted properties for years. The neighborhood began its turnaround in 2005 with creation of a neighborhood crime watch. Numerous other projects have followed, with community volunteers contributing some 1,300 hours to neighborhood service each year.
Corporate Service Award -- Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) Inc., Lafayette.
The efforts of employees of Subaru of Indiana Automotive raise $40,000 annually to support 150 kids through the Boys and Girls Club. They support nearly a dozen annual charity walks, raising tens of thousands of dollars for medical research, hunger initiatives and more. In 2012, SIA members partnered with other organizations to fund and build Safe Haven Home, an emergency shelter for families displaced by disaster.
The awards ceremony is one of three events that comprise the 2012 Governor's Conference on Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building, co-sponsored by the Indiana Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the IUPUI Polis Center's SAVI Community Information System.
More than 200 people attended the awards dinner, including winners, their families and supporters, faith and community service leaders and representatives from state and local governments.