(ran PT edition)
Beatrice Miller, a 20-year member of Pasco County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, recently celebrated a special birthday. I certainly would never tell her age, but I will tell you that when she joined RSVP she just qualified for membership. Until last year, the minimum membership requirement was age 60.
For the past 20 years, Bea has served on the RSVP Advisory Council and the Zephyrhills Senior Center Advisory Council, and has volunteered in several agencies.
She was born in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. When she was 5, her family moved to West New York, N.J. She remembers her hometown as a wonderful place to live. West New York was a quiet community where a child could skate in the streets, jump rope and enjoy summer vacations. However, Bea remembers that "it was a hard life in those days." Her parents were strict and she recalls that she had a 10 p.m. curfew.
She met Fred Miller on a blind date and they were engaged after three months. They were married on Aug. 26, 1936. That summer they went swimming, played basketball, picked blueberries, and Bea made upside-down cakes, muffins and jam. Bea enjoyed homemaking for a brief time, then decided to work part time and spend the rest of her time volunteering. She volunteered at the Lung Association in Morristown, N.J., the Crippled Children's Association and St. Mary's Hospital until her daughter, Carol, was born in 1943.
Bea recalls the joy of motherhood and volunteering as a Brownie leader in New Jersey. It was such a wonderful experience that she worked with two Brownie troops every week.
Bea says she works "as a volunteer because I enjoy helping others. I cannot describe the lift I get from helping others who need it. I cannot stay at home every day and look at TV."
The Millers moved to Florida in 1973. Soon after settling into their new home, Bea became a hospital volunteer. She served one year at Community General Hospital, Dade City, and then registered as a volunteer at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Dade City. Bea says she loved serving as a hospital volunteer and moved to East Pasco Medical Center when Jackson Memorial closed.
For many years, Bea and other Jackson Memorial volunteers worked closely with the volunteers at Blue Jay Mobile Home Park, Dade City, who prepared infant layettes and other items for newborns.
Fred and Bea became Meals on Wheels volunteers in 1973. Fred drove and Bea delivered the meals to the homebound for six years, until his death. Bea has remained a Meals on Wheels volunteer.
This outstanding volunteer also serves in the activities department at Heartland of Zephyrhills, a local nursing center.
Significant contributions of time and talent have been made by this RSVP volunteer to the CARES Zephyrhills Senior Center. She and many other dedicated volunteers helped raise the local contribution for the Senior Center grant, selling car raffle tickets and conducting flea markets, rummage sales, card parties and luncheons for the cause. The grant was not only matched locally, it was exceeded.
When the Senior Center opened, Bea was among those assisting with the Bingo games, newspaper recycling and other activities that helped generate operating funds for the center.
Bea gets "a lift from helping others who need it."
She certainly has helped me as role model and friend since I became the RSVP consultant on Nov. 5, 1975. She is an extraordinary woman who has never said "no" to life or volunteering.
RSVP is recruiting 100 grandmothers and grandparents to serve in Pasco County public schools.
Carol Keyes is the director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Pasco County. You can write to her c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.
Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP): (813) 836-2203 or (904) 524-2203
Community Aging and Retirement Services (CARES): Port Richey, 862-9291; Dade City, 567-4216; Land O' Lakes, 996-6509