Citizen of Year honor goes to Food Pantry head Judy Miller

Monday, January 28, 2013
Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN Judy Miller is shocked to hear she's just been named the 2012 Putnam County Citizen of the Year, as selected by the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce.

Judy Miller, whose tireless efforts to keep the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry cupboards from going bare, now has bookend awards honoring her devotion to the vital volunteer role she serves in the community.

For the second time in three months, Miller took home a major award Saturday night. This time the Food Pantry executive director received the 2012 Citizen of the Year Award, presented at the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner at the DePauw University Tennis and Track Center.

Back on Oct. 1, Miller was granted the state's most prestigious honor for volunteer service when she received the National Service Member Award at the Governor's Residence in Indianapolis in appreciation of her work with the Food Pantry.

The longtime Greencastle resident knew that accolade was coming. Saturday night she apparently didn't have a clue.

"It was a true 'gotcha' moment for me," she said, explaining how she was listening intently as incoming Chamber President Scott Herrick of Bittles and Hurt/Hopkins-Rector Funeral Homes read the qualifications and accomplishments of the 2012 Citizen of the Year winner.

"I couldn't figure out who he was talking about," Miller laughed. "I was thinking, 'Who else volunteers like that?' I did notice he wasn't looking in our direction, and then about 20 seconds before he stepped off the podium, it hit me. I thought, 'Could it be?'"

It mostly certainly was.

"I was just really floored," Miller admitted. "It's quite an accolade coming from local people that appreciate what I do. That really means a lot.

"Two of these in three months?" she asked rhetorically. "I don't know if I can take much more."

Nonetheless on Saturday night Miller said she was accepting the Citizen of the Year Award "on behalf of everybody at the Food Pantry."

"Almost everyone who was there Saturday night has been a part of helping the Food Pantry," Miller noted, "whether it's been money-wise or through food donations or putting out baskets where people can donate."

Last year the Food Pantry served more than 500 households with some 70,000 meal items donated and distributed.

None of that would have been possible without Miller beating the bushes for donations of food and funds, while spreading the word about the dire need to assist the less fortunate among our neighbors and friends.

"It takes a lot to beg for donations and contributions," Miller has said, but her successes speak volumes. During Miller's tenure, the Food Pantry has moved into its own space at 620 Tennessee St. and has even seen a van donated.

As a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 2006, Miller asked to be assigned to the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry. She's never left.

Her early experiences motivated Miller to take a more active Food Pantry role, and since late 2008 she has served as board president and director of the pantry.

In that time, Miller estimates she has given more than 3,000 volunteer hours to the local organization.

Even as she was receiving congratulations Saturday night, she was working on ways to aid the Food Pantry.

"I made a couple of good contacts," she said of her networking activity after the award was announced. "I think they can be a big help if we can work everything out."

The Citizen of the Year has been named by the Chamber of Commerce since 1982.

After inaugural winner Hazel Day Longden in 1982, other previous recipients have been Hubert Clodfelter, 1983; Howard Williams, 1984; Bessie Rector, 1985; Mace Aker, 1986; Bobby G. Albright, 1987; Gerald E. Warren, 1988; David Barr, 1989; Jim Harris, 1990; Dr. James Johnson, 1991; Charles Chandler, 1992; Bob Evans, 1993; Julia "Judy" Johnson, 1994; Jerald D. Calbert, 1995; Harold Spicer, 1996; Jinsie Bingham, 1997; Dave Young, 1998; Barbara Lane, 1999; Ellen Sedlack, 2000; the trio of Lynn Wilson, Denise Sigworth and Rachel Seipel in 2001; Mike Rokicki, 2002; Joy Marley, 2003; Charles Miles, 2004; Judge Sally Gray, 2005; Dr. Donald "Doc" Brattain, 2006; Charles "Chuck" Schroeder, 2007; Lynn Bohmer, 2008; Ken Heeke, 2009; Becky Brothers, 2010, and Judge Diana LaViolette, 2011.

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  • Congragulations Judy - well deserved.

    -- Posted by Nit on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 8:25 AM
  • Great honor for a GREAT GAL!

    -- Posted by Wait a minute on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 10:46 AM
  • Congratulations, Judy and thanks for all you do for Putnam County

    -- Posted by talkymom3 on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 12:09 PM
  • Thanks to all of you for your thoughts. I try to do the best I can to help to hungry of Putnam County. Without your help the Pantry would not exsist (SP). Donaations of food and money are always needed.

    Again thank to all, Judy

    -- Posted by momma-j on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 5:05 PM
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