After aiding countless educators navigate the retirement process for over three decades, ALPLM Volunteer Connie Miller started her retirement from the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System in January 2001. Throughout her professional career, she took pleasure in working in various departments within the agency to calculate and verify the retirement claims she reconciled, to ensure the teachers she assisted received their appropriate compensation and benefits.
Connie displays this same helpful attitude in all areas of her life, including the numerous volunteer positions that she has held assisting ALPLM staff over the past fifteen years.
“I remember visiting the Presidential Library on a private tour with my Red Hat group. Our guide indicated that anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the library and museum could complete a simple form and submit their contact information. Me and my friend, Patty Schrenk, decided this would be a meaningful opportunity. We quickly filled out the form and before we knew it, we were interviewed and completed the required training sessions prior to the opening of the museum," Miller said. "My volunteer experience at the ALPLM has met my expectations and beyond.”
Connie’s volunteer experiences, much like her professional employment, can be characterized by the variety of the departments and positions that she worked. Although most of Connie’s involvement at the ALPLM centered on volunteer opportunities greeting museum visitors, she has also aided the Oral History, Education Services, and Facility Rentals departments and is always willing to offer her services to help with any special events.
“Working with the ALPLM’s various departments has reminded me that there is so much more to the museum than working on the ‘main floor’,” Miller said.
Outside of the ALPLM, Connie volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, Festival of Trees, and her church. She previously volunteered at Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
A strong affinity for history and a desire to enhance her knowledge of the Lincoln family, are motivating factors that have sustained Connie’s interests in the ALPLM and contributed to her extended time at the museum and other Springfield historic locations. Connie expressed that she has learned countless facts about the Lincoln family and unique insights into their personalities, pursuits, and passions. She credits the Volunteer Services Department’s educational programming with providing her and the rest of the volunteer team with historic information and stories that they can share with the museum’s daily guests.
Until experiencing a life-threatening event almost two years ago, Connie never truly grasped the depth of the relationships she has developed during her time volunteering at the ALPLM. Today, she has a better understanding and appreciation of these friendships.
“I experienced a serious medical situation in January 2019, and several of my fellow volunteers and the VSD staff visited me with treats, flowers, and cards while in the hospital and care facility,” she explained. “The Volunteer Services staff were there for me every step of the way and I will never forget the compassion and care I received from them. I am happy to report that I returned to the ALPLM this past January. It was wonderful to see everyone again and they made me feel so welcomed.”
Connie remains encouraged and over the past few months she has continued her recovery process at home and is feeling much better. “I had my final surgery in September and am doing well.”
She is looking forward to things returning to normal and getting back to the activities she enjoyed prior to the pandemic. She concluded that she misses her time with friends and family and is optimistic that things will get better soon, and she hopes to resume her volunteer positions sometime next year.
Thank you, Connie, for your positive attitude and for the personal example you are to all of us. You have shown us that even during the toughest of times we can change our mindset towards moving forward instead of looking back.