Mill Neck Manor Volunteers Personify the Spirit of Giving Back
The Mill Neck Family of Organizations has a long relationship with its volunteers. After all, for more than 50 years, scores of volunteers have shown up to help run the organization’s annual Fall Harvest Festival. Without the nearly 300 people who sign on each year, the festival would simply not be possible. As many nonprofits do, Mill Neck relies on volunteers during different times throughout the year too. The Mill Neck Family has also found this relationship with their volunteers to be a mutually beneficial one, as many volunteers express an appreciation for the opportunity to help. Karen Hiller is one such example.
Karen Hiller and her husband, Wolfgang, first visited Mill Neck in 2001 when Wolfgang was referred to Mill Neck Audiology for a hearing evaluation. The Hillers, residents of Glen Head, have since become dedicated volunteers at Mill Neck’s fall festival for the past 4 years, where they help run the fudge booth. Karen, a nurse practitioner who retired in 2009, spent a few years trying part-time work while looking for volunteer opportunities. The part-time situations weren’t satisfying, so she began thinking about volunteer opportunities. Karen eventually landed at a publisher of audio magazines for blind and visually impaired subscribers, where she prereads content. While she finds this works rewarding and is happy to do her part, Karen still longed to offer assistance at other organizations. Earlier this year, the Hillers met Mill Neck’s Director of Advancement when they attended a tour of the historic Manor House located on the Mill Neck campus. Karen expressed how much she and her husband enjoyed their festival volunteering and inquired if there were any additional opportunities at the organization.
The Director of Advancement had two suggestions, one involved the newly formed Manor House committee, whose volunteers work as tour docents or help out in the Manor’s gift shop. Karen embraced the committee and was soon instrumental in organizing the gift shop, including creating a number of floral pieces to sell. The Director also mentioned needing assistance at various times in her department. Since the summer, Karen has been helping out with mailings and other administrative work one day a week in the Advancement office.
Recently, another opportunity for Karen arose, helping out in the school’s cafeteria. Once a week, she assists the preschool children during lunch, helping them with meal set up. A grandmother of four, Karen is delighted for a chance to work with the children. “I’m in the cafeteria about three weeks and it’s just wonderful! It’s even better now that the kids are starting to come around. They greet me enthusiastically when I come in now,” she says. And Wolfgang? He’s definitely open to increasing his volunteering beyond the yearly festival. For a time, he returned to do some tutoring back at St. Francis Prep after retiring from the school six years ago. He taught German and Spanish at St. Francis for 39 years, the last 17 years as the department chairman. Since his retirement, Wolfgang has kept busy tending his garden and traveling with Karen. When he sees how enthusiastic his wife is being at Mill Neck, he says, “I’d be happy to have more opportunities to volunteer as well.” Of her experience as a valued Mill Neck Manor volunteer, Karen says, “It’s where I need to be.”