By Tonya L. Poutry
NORTH HERO – A fifteen-year adventure comes full circle for Island resident Carol Miller Tuesday, Oct. 30 as she relocates to Pennsylvania.
In 2003, Miller purchased her home in Grand Isle after summering with friends Hank Bishoff and Izzy Hayes. All three had lived in Pennsylvania prior to Hank and Izzy relocating to the Champlain Islands.
Carol followed soon thereafter after a short stint in Rhode Island. She packed up on Oct. 30 in 2003 and became a full-time Islander.
Over the years, she has been a member and lay preacher at the Champlain Islands Methodist Parish, a Chairperson of the Trustees at the Grand Isle Methodist Church, a Grand Isle Schoolboard member, a HomeShare Vermont volunteer, on the board of Directors of Champlain Islanders Developing Essential Resources (C.I.D.E.R) and a leader of the Living Strong in The Islands program sponsored by C.I.D.E.R.
Thirty members of the program bid Miller the sweetest goodbye on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the North Hero House with an aptly fitting “Roast”.
Co-leader of Living Strong, Judy Steacy, emceed the roast mentioning Miller’s strong commitment to the community, her master joke telling, her love of Celtic dancing, the UVM Women’s Basketball Team and her outstanding leadership of the Living Strong program.
Miller took on the program in 2003 when it was called the “Strong Living” program with Carol Stata. Strong Living was a research project by Tuft’s University. The program aims to teach balance and strength through exercise for older citizens. Every twelve weeks, C.I.D.E.R. would provide data to Tufts for the project.
When the project was canceled by Tufts, the program which had grown considerably, became Living Strong in The Islands.
Robin Way, Executive Director of C.I.D.E.R. said the program now has about thirty people at the two classes offered on Tuesday and Thursday at St. Rose of Lima in South Hero.
“The program has decreased falls in our senior population. Actually, out of everyone here, only one person has had a fall and recovered well.” Way told The Islander.
It was clear, that all of the folks who came to the roast had become more than exercise partners, but great friends.
Miller spoke of sharing each other’s joys and sorrows, mourning the loss of friends, holding surprise parties that are always announced and how the group is made up of heroes and heroines of the Islands. “We do everything that we can to support our neighbors.”, Miller said.
One of the biggest challenges of the program Miller said was the Pie Ladies, “The Pie Ladies will bake pies, put them on our tables, and expect us for the next hour to exercise.”
Miller speaking of the Living Strong program told the crowd, “This is the greatest opportunity I’ve ever had.”
In keeping with the true form as a lover of puns, Miller offered a final joke, “What is Irish and stays out in your yard?”
“Paddy O furniture”, the group responded.
A fitting goodbye to a woman who has left her mark in the Island’s community and the hearts of many residents.
To learn more about the Living Strong program, contact Judy Steacy at 802-372-6425.