Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

St. Mary parishioner named United Way’s Volunteer of the Year

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the June 8, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

A middle-aged guy in a straw hat is up on a ladder helping to fit a two-by-four into place, doing his part to build Spokane Habitat for Humanity’s first straw bale house. Located in an eastern part of the city, an area that’s a mix of residential and industrial, the thick straw-bale-loaded walls will be provide some family with a perfectly insulated home in both the hot and the cold months.

The guy up on the ladder is used to being there. He’s Bill McMillan, 57, a member of Spokane Valley’s St. Mary Parish who recently was named Spokane’s Volunteer of the Year by Spokane County United Way.

After years of serving as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer while working in high tech management, two years ago he was hired to work for Habitat full-time as a site manager.

That had little effect on McMillan’s volunteer tendencies. He continues to volunteer with his parish’s youth ministry program, and for eight years he has volunteered at Crosswalk, a Spokane homeless center for teens.

This is also McMillan’s fifth year to join a group of teens and adults for a mission trek to Mexico to help build houses there.

“We do that not only to build houses,” he explains, “but to show kids from here what poverty is like. They see kids down there who have nothing, but they’re happy. So they get this idea that you don’t have to have a lot of material possessions to be happy.

“I’ve been volunteering for about 10 years,” said McMillan. “I’ve been a Big Brother for 10 years, and I’ve been involved with the youth group at St. Mary for about six years. We have weekly meetings, and sometimes I’ll end up giving the talk, a Bible- based talk, usually. Also, I set up some service projects for the kids. We’ve done dinner projects at the House of Charity, fixing sandwiches there a couple of times a month, and we do a dinner at Crosswalk. I get the kids involved in Habitat sometimes, too, and I volunteer at the House of Charity one night a week during the winter sleeping program.”

Obviously, McMillan is big on volunteering, and he recommends it to others whenever he gets the chance.

“You get a good sense of accomplishment from doing good things, helping out the community,” he says quietly. “I quote Matthew, Chapter 25. Jesus told us to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, and house the homeless. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer, and there are lots of needs.”

If you want to get involved in volunteering, it helps to know yourself and what you like to do, McMillan advises. “Some people like to work with the elderly, others with the homeless. I love teenagers, so I look for opportunities to help them.”

When does Bill McMillan think he’ll retire?

“Oh, I don’t know,” he says with a grin, “maybe never.”

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