Robin Miller Settles In for Community Service
Robin Miller moved to Madison from Hawaii before ever even setting foot here because of the town’s reputation for great schools and relaxing living on the Sound. What she found here was a community of kindred spirits dedicated to principles of generosity and public service.
Robin has become an integral part of the Madison community through her efforts with the Rotary International organization and is midway through her first term as president of Madison’s chapter.
Robin has worked in human resources since the early ‘90s, in locations from Boston to the Big Island directing HR for both commercial and educational entities. Robin moved here in 2012 with her sons Trevor, Gavin, and Thomas and says she her family fell in love with the town and its commitment to community.
“That was a really great experience. We really loved Hawaii, but as my boys grew, we wanted a change. Public schools in Hawaii are not the greatest, so when my middle son was ready to go to high school, we decided to move back,” says Robin. “It was an amazing experience living there, but we really needed a change.
“When we were considering this, I actually bought my house online. The first time I actually set foot in Madison was the day we moved into the house,” she recalls.
It didn’t take long for Robin to find her place in the community and to begin serving the public as a Rotarian. Rotary International is one of the most generous and dedicated community service organizations in the country, according to Robin.
“I have always participated in different ways in community service projects over the years. Whether it was through the companies I worked for or through the kid’s projects at school,” says Robin. “I saw it as a way to get really connected to the community, but also find some ways to do service work.
“It is rewarding for me. I actually didn’t know much about the Rotary when I first ventured to a meeting,” Robin continues. “It has been a great way to meet people that I probably would not have met otherwise, because there is such a broad range of experiences, and ages, and businesses involved. We are all in different places in our lives, but we all come together for this club that we are so passionate about.”
Robin says that it didn’t take long for her to understand the power of what the Rotary is capable of.
“Rotary’s motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ and we work to support initiatives on a local level in our own communities, on a state level, on a national level and on an international level,” says Robin. “[W]e look for ways to support almost any worthy effort. Sometimes that via a donation, for other projects it’s hands-on help.”
The Rotary clubs across the country fund not only drinking wells in Uganda and polio eradication efforts across the globe, but they are just as committed to their neighbors next door or the local non-profit in need of a grant.
To list all of the philanthropic efforts in which Rotary Clubs engage would fill an entire paper, but it truly is an amazing organization, according to Robin. It funds globally and locally, from large scholarships, including those for students going into the trades, to food banks and toy drives, and unlike many non-profits, they even fund other non-profits who are in need.
The Madison Rotary Club has helped raise funds for more than 50 local families through their Warm the Children project, which collects donations and assists hands-on for families with children that are in need of winter clothing. The club hosts a yearly carnival at Academy Field, brings in speakers to inform members about other groups efforts, and sometimes does something as simple as a few dollars for a local family to get over a health or financial issue, says Robin.
Recently the Madison Rotary Club, along with the Madison Community Services, the First Congregational Church, and the Lions Club helped raise almost $100,000 for Madison’s Food Pantry via the Liberty Bank Food Drive. The state-wide Rotary effort raised more than $1.4 million for Connecticut’s hungry.
“We just finished this project and distributed checks, and it was an incredible success,” says Robin. “It is really amazing. Most of that money goes to the town’s food pantry. We really do things on a local level. We work internationally, but helping out locally is what means so much to us. We’re here for our neighbors when there is a struggle.”
Robin says that of the many projects of which she has been a part, the Rotary’s Interact Club has brought the most sense of accomplishment. This collaboration with high school students was derailed by COVID and Robin says she is very excited to begin reviving the club after the pandemic hiatus.
“One of the most rewarding projects that I was a part of was the Interact Club, which is the Rotary Club’s high school affiliation. It’s for students interested in helping their community and volunteering,” says Robin. “We actually had a really great group of students.
“I have to say that the Interact Club grew out of the efforts of Art Criddle, a Rotarian who sadly passed away last year, and he was instrumental in getting the students involved,” she adds. “We did a lot of collaborative efforts with other clubs at the school. We are really hoping that at the start of the year, the school allow us to start reviving that program. It is an incredible program for the students. It has been a really amazing experience. If you provide kids with just a little direction. They really just take off and go.”
Robin recommends anyone looking to serve their community come and check out a Rotary meeting. There is no hard sell, initiation, or meeting demands the club imposes, says Robin. The willingness to serve is all the club requires.
“We take anyone whatever their background is. There are no politics involved, there is no religious affiliation. We only care about serving others and serving our community,” says Robin. “What it takes to be a member is simply that you want to help others. As much or as little time as you can afford. That’s the message of Rotary is that we can have more of an impact the more we work together. I would love to see even more collaboration between the civic groups of Madison.”
To find out more about Rotary International or the Madison’s Rotary Club or to donate to specific projects, visit www.madisonctrotary.com. The Madison Rotary Club meets Thursday mornings at the Senior Center at 8 a.m. and welcomes all.