Under blue skies, Robin Miller, a Vietnam War veteran and Niles resident, drove his minivan Wednesday as a Niles Senior Center volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program.
Miller, 72, who said he served in the Army from 1965 to 1967, delivers hot or cold meals to Niles homebound seniors on Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays for the program. He and his wife Mary Ann Miller were selected recently in a Home Depot veteran support initiative, Doing More for Veterans, for a home makeover.
“He’s a great guy,” said Marjorie Davilis of Niles, a Meals on Wheels client who Miller has delivered to.
A retired postal carrier and current bartender at White Eagle on Milwaukee Avenue, Miller said he has volunteered since 1999 for the Meals on Wheels route, the same one his father held for more than a decade.
“It’s just serving the community, doing something to give back,” said Miller, a Niles resident for six decades. “It’s a great town.”
The Millers own an English brick bungalow that Robin’s parents, the late Herbert and Mildred Miller, purchased in 1953, they said.
Robin, a 1961 Maine Township High School graduate, and Mary Ann, from Edison Park, said they bought the home in 1987 and raised their twins, Jayson and Crystal, now 35, in the corner lot residence where they still live today.
The Millers said, before the makeover, their living room was showing signs of damage. There was no grab rail in a bathroom shower, a stair handrail was unsafe, the kitchen electrical outlets needed updating and the enclosed porch paneling was turning brown, they said.
Then came the 13 volunteers from the local Home Depot. They spent Jan. 19 donating their time to prime, paint and install new material, free of charge, for the Niles veteran.
Miller was nominated by Tom Amirante of Glenview, commander of the Niles Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7712.
“I am just very thankful for the Home Depot for doing more for veterans,” said Amirante, also a Vietnam veteran. “I applaud them for it.”
The Doing More For Veterans program aligns with Home Depot’s mission of supporting and employing veterans, said Ulrica Hillman-Foston, associate support department supervisor for the Civic Center Plaza Home Depot location.
“What we try to do is pay it forward and say thank you,” Hillman-Foston said.
The store contacted Amirante before last Thanksgiving and Amirante contacted the Millers.
Before Christmas, the Millers received a phone call while out shopping that their project was confirmed, they said.
“This is like winning the lottery,'” Mary Ann said. “Everywhere you looked, there were people, bumper to bumper … We are so totally honored that they would do this.”
Robin, a Niles Veterans of Foreign Wars member, said he too was humbled by the experience.
“It was just unbelievable somebody would do this for me,” he said. “We’re not destitute but it’s something we would have had to hire someone for.”
The couple said they met at Eddie’s, a Niles establishment once located at 8751 Milwaukee Ave. and married April 29, 1972. The long-standing Niles residents spend much of their time volunteering and giving back to the community, they said.
They both volunteer for the Niles Police Department Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program which assists during emergency and non-emergency events. Mary Ann was named Niles citizen of the year at the 2014 annual Night of Roses civic awards banquet. At the Niles Park District’s Tam O’Shanter Golf Course, Robin leads a seasonal Wednesday golf league.
“I think Robin was the perfect individual to receive the help,” said Kelly Mickle, director of the Niles Senior Center which coordinates the Meals on Wheels program.
“He exemplifies volunteerism.”