Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Miller

Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Miller

1. What motivates you to volunteer? I am motivated to volunteer at ACR because of its conservation mission that incorporates creativity, the people, the location, and the ease of volunteering in ways that fit my needs.
2. Why ACR? Same as #1
3. How long have you volunteered with ACR? Around 3 years, I think
4. Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why? As an environmental engineer with a strong interest in recycling and reuse, I was drawn to ACR by the conservation aspect but have stayed on at ACR more because of the social and creative aspects.
5. Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why? I also volunteer with Boy Scouts with an all-girl crew and an all-girl troop and with Girl Scouts, with a focus on supporting other troops and developing older girl programming. I am now an empty-nester, but until my children graduated from high school a little over a year ago, I served in various volunteer roles at their schools.

I am excited to be combining my love of ACR and Girl Scouts by developing Girl Scout-focused workshops. So far, I’ve led a succulent planter workshop and a combination birdhouse and SWAPs workshop. I’m excited by our proposed move to a larger space where offering workshops will be much easier to pull off.
6. What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR? When I started volunteering on a weekly basis in the Bucket section, I didn’t think I would care for it, but now almost 3 years later, I find that a weekly trip to sorting and tidying up the Bucket section serves as my weekly creativity-fix field trip ala Julia Cameron and her “The Artist’s Way”. I am so inspired by seeing and touching various materials that have outlived one useful life and have gone into a bin in the Bucket section to begin a new life. Concurrently with that, I have taken several mosaic courses from the extraordinary Dianne Sonnenberg, who has taught two Art of Reuse workshops at ACR. Mosaics give new lives to old and broken and unused items in ways that are surprisingly and unexpectedly beautiful.

I also enjoy take-home projects, such as removing buttons from Josco shirt fronts, sorting plastic bags, and rolling fabric for the Bucket section. I leave these projects out in my dining room, and sort a few items each time I walk by and while I watch TV. I love turning my TV time into a benefit for others.
7. Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR? I really love interacting with customers and especially like to ask, “what do you plan to do with that?”, when they hold up a particularly interesting but weird thing. And the funniest thing has to do with going by Assistance League’s Thrift House one day to donate some of the materials that we received from a Goodwill donation and would not be able use. As I was dropping the items off, I look over and see regular ACR volunteers Margey and Dee Dee dumpster diving for craft items for ACR. And actually, they were recovering those items with ALA’s permission for ACR.


Thanks for all you do Karen!

Learn more about becoming a volunteer at Austin Creative Reuse here or feel free to email us: info@austincreativereuse.org

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6406 N. IH35 #1801, Austin, TX 78752
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