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Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Ryan Miller

Position: Senior Engineer, U-M Space Research

Years employed at U-M: 14+

Volunteer Organization: Meals on Wheels

What exactly do you do (when you volunteer)?

I pick up meals for 10 to 14 people at the Motor Meals office on Plymouth Road at around 11:30. I then drive to an apartment complex and deliver the meals to shut-ins and others that need assistance. I have a fixed route, but occasionally get cancellations or additions. I usually chat with some of the people and I offer to do simple tasks for them (such as opening their meal or helping them with a hearing aid battery. I even turned a lady’s mattress for her once!).

How much time do your normally spend volunteering?

2 to 3 hours per week. I volunteer 1 day per week essentially taking an extended lunch hour. The time depends mostly on how talkative people are.

Why do you volunteer?

I like to help people. I volunteer a little through my church, but I wanted to do something extra with my time. Once I found out Motor Meals was located on North Campus, close to my office, it seemed natural to use some of my free time on my lunch hour to help others.

What has been your most rewarding experience?

I helped one woman get her laptop working and connected to the internet. She’s in a wheelchair and has limited income for a professional computer repair person. Now we exchange emails occasionally and she’s bought some quilting supplies over the internet for herself. She’s in more regular contact with friends and relatives via email, too.

How did you get started volunteering?

Back in college here at the U, I volunteered for Motor Meals as a service project for one of the engineering societies. I volunteered for most of a semester and I really enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve been involved in my church on and off, but I was looking for something that I could do during my lunch hour while here at work. I remembered Motor Meals and I’ve been delivering meals for over a year now.

How would you encourage someone who has never volunteered before to become involved?

It helped that I had experience with Motor Meals before, so I can imagine that someone who hasn’t done this type of volunteer work might be intimidated. Motor Meals makes getting started easy by allowing you to go with someone more experienced your first few times until you get more comfortable. They also provide excellent maps and directions for driving to delivery destinations. They’ll work with you to give you a delivery route that fits into your available time. And once you’ve been at it a while, you meet some very nice people and make some new friends who REALLY appreciate your help.