Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Stewart Miller

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Stewart Miller


Each month, we feature one of the many volunteers that help to make the magic of Austin Creative Reuse possible. This month, it’s core volunteer Mary Stewart Miller!


What motivates you to volunteer, and why ACR?

I like volunteering because I like to meet people who value the same things that I do. It’s my way of helping organizations that I support.  I’m incredibly cheap and can’t bear wasting stuff, so ACR’s mission is very resonant with me.  I was in k-12 education for a long time and it would kill me all the material we’d throw away.  I’m always telling my teacher friends about ACR-both for donations and for inexpensive classroom materials.  I always tell people ACR is like a well-curated garage sale—you never know what amazing items might be there.


Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?

Definitely the conservation aspect.  I am terrible at all crafts.  


Where else have you/do you volunteer?

Currently I’m a gardens volunteer at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and I was a Meals on Wheels volunteer for a long time.  I work there now.  I’ve also volunteered for Travis Audubon, TreeFolks and at my church, St. George’s Episcopal.


What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?

As a former librarian, I am deeply satisfied by organizing and systems.  I like sorting stuff; I find it kind of meditative.  And I like talking to/meeting new people as we work together. 

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?

One of the board members was in the center one day and she remembered me from when her kids used to trade nature items with me at the Austin Nature and Science Center, which was ages ago.  Nice connection!


What’s the best thing you’ve found at ACR?

I picked up one of several small 1970s datebooks for a quarter and discovered that its previous owner had written the most scintillating info about their life in little bits and pieces in the calendar.  My sister and I got obsessed with this person’s story.  I went back the next day and bought all of the datebooks.  What we’ve figured out is David Sedaris-level fascinating.  How did those datebooks get to ACR????


What do you do when you are not volunteering at ACR?

I work for Meals on Wheels of Central Texas and Garden 17, and work in my own garden waiting for tomatoes to turn red.  I explore Austin on my bike with my husband and I read and plan trips. 

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