It’s not often you encounter someone who leaves a lasting impact on everyone she meets—someone who truly touches the hearts of every friend, colleague and family member. Barb Miller was one of those people, and we at Second Harvest Heartland were blessed to have been a part of her life.
Six years ago, our events team decided they needed a part-time, in-office volunteer to help with our annual gala, Dish: Cuisine for Change. The position was posted, and soon, a woman named Barb Miller applied and came in for an interview. “We both loved her immediately,” Dawn Marie Nelmark, senior director of corporate partnerships said of her debrief with events manager, Heidi Yankovec.
Within hours, an offer was extended to Barb to work with the team from October through the event in the spring. And, soon, others at Second Harvest Heartland who encountered Barb immediately fell in love with her joyful spirit and benevolent nature. Barb soon expanded her Dish volunteer role to include work on the event’s Auction Committee. She was a constant source of joy and laughter for committee members as well. Her zest for life, passion for our work and love for her family were contagious—everyone looked forward to Barb spending time at Second Harvest Heartland each winter and spring.
After helping us accomplish a very successful Dish event in the spring of 2011, Barb and her family received the devastating news of her stage 4 cancer diagnosis – a blow to all of us. She underwent surgery almost immediately, and started chemotherapy within a month. Over the next two years, while Barb’s battle continued, she remained a dedicated volunteer and friend to Second Harvest Heartland and the Dish event, coming to the office between chemo treatments and making phone calls and sending emails from her hospital bed.
While she remained positive and hopeful throughout her journey, the cancer was quite aggressive and Barb had some very difficult times. However, in true Barb fashion, she led us all through her journey with grace, friendship and lots of laughter! After a nearly two-year battle, Barb passed away in March of this year at her home, with her husband, Greg, by her side.
Barb’s legacy with Second Harvest Heartland will continue – she has been named as the Honorary Chair of this year’s Dish: Cuisine for Change event which will be held on May 30th at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. She would be happy to know that many of her family and friends will be in attendance to celebrate the tremendous difference she made in all of our lives – and in those we serve every day.
If you’d like to attend this year’s Dish: Cuisine for Change event or make a gift in her honor, please visit dishcuisineforchange.org.