Here are the 2019 Spirit Award recipients
The Times Media Co. and United Way of Porter County partnered again this year to honor volunteers from across Northwest Indiana with the annual Spirit Awards.
Name: Sarah Miller
Occupation: Retired arts and crafts teacher
Volunteer position: Vice president emeritus
Where they volunteer: Kankakee Valley Historical Society
What they do: Among Sarah’s early accomplishments at the Kankakee Valley Historical Society is publishing the diary of George Wilcox, who served as a hunting and fishing guide for Civil War General Lew Wallace. The diary was eventually made into a play that was integrated into the curriculum for Kankakee Valley Middle and High Schools. Since then, Sarah has assisted with events, fundraising and education. Mary Hodson, society cofounder, said, “Sarah is very hands-on. There’s not a thing she won’t help with.”
Why they volunteer there: Growing up in the Kankakee Valley left Sarah with a soft spot in her heart for its rich history. When she attended the first Society meeting back in 2001, she realized that the Society shared the same goals of studying the land and its artifacts and preserving it all for education.
How long they have volunteered there: Sarah was the Kankakee Valley Historical Society’s very first member when it was incorporated in 2001. She has been an active member ever since.
Insights gained from volunteering: Volunteering should be rewarding for all involved. “I get more than they do,” Sarah noted. “It’s actually selfish.”
Advice to others who might want to volunteer: Volunteers should enjoy the work, but their motivation should come from the heart. Sarah said, “It starts with caring about everyone else more than yourself.”
Overall, volunteering is about giving back. There is no greater way to pass on your good fortune than giving freely of your time and effort. “I like the phrase the young people have now: pay it forward.”