Volunteer of the Week: Kathy Miller, of Decatur

Kathy Miller, 63, of Decatur, is the owner of Miss Kathy’s School of Dance in downtown Dowagiac. She has been a longtime volunteer and contributor to Dowagiac’s Under the Harvest Moon festival, which will take place starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

How long have you been volunteering with the Under the Harvest Moon festival?

We have been doing this since it started. It’s been wonderful.

Kathy Miller

What do you do for the festival?

[Program Manager for the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce] Vickie Phillipson approached me and asked me if we would purchase all the little pumpkins the kids do at the festival. So, we buy all the pumpkins and art supplies so that the kids can decorate all the pumpkins during the Harvest Moon. Then, my dance studio and Positively Dance, we do a performance do for Under the Harvest Moon, something we have done since it started. Then this — actually last year, too, but it got rained out — we purchased T-shirts for our kids to wear that say Under the Harvest Moon. Positively Dance also does a little bake sale. We just really have taken this festival and helped Vickie take it under her wing, and we do a lot of little extra things for the kids to make it more fun for them.

What do you like about participating in Under the Harvest Moon and giving back to the community through the festival?

I think it is really important. I grew up learning that you give back to your community when you can, and I also want the kids, and my dancers, to learn that as well. They fundraise for certain things, and I think that if you fundraise, you have to give back to your community. I think it is a good thing to teach kids that it is good to do these things.

Do you volunteer elsewhere?

I’m so involved with the studio, which is very involving. So, I use what I do with the kids and festivals like this to give back. We also sponsor things in many communities, so we can reach every community in which we have dancers.

Why do you think volunteering is important to a community?

Everything cannot be bought with money. You have to have volunteers to make a community work. A lot of times, I feel that people don’t appreciate the volunteers, and they don’t see the volunteers. For example, there are ladies in Dowagiac that plant and take care of those planters and do the flowers. Those types of things a community can’t always pay for. It needs those volunteers.

How would you encourage others to volunteer?

I think [volunteering] gives you the sense that you are giving something more of yourself. It just gives you a sense of pride that you helped. You helped for nothing, but you just put a smile on someone’s face for a day. Sometimes a smile or a laugh is just as important as anything that is monetary.

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