By Janet Wetzel
In winter, Jan Millard scurries around collecting heavy coats to take to homeless shelters.
Just after Thanksgiving, she gathers names of needy families. On Christmas Eve, she and her family deliver gifts and food to those families, and take leftover flowers from their florist shop to lonely nursing home residents.
Karen Miller (13) of White Oak poses with her mentor, Janet Millard.
(Mike Simons photo)
In between, Millard, who has multiple sclerosis, mentors a young girl, raises a young grandson, and offers help to needy people who walk into her shop or her life. Regardless of the season, she's helping.
The Rev. David Roberson of White Oak Christian Church, which Millard and her husband, Ben, attend, said they're caring people.
"She has a real focus on the homeless," including working through Anna Louise Inn, Roberson said. "She mentors girls, and the family is always helping someone. They work with people who come into their shop for funeral flowers and don't have enough money."
Millard, 62, of Colerain Township, said their All About Flowers in White Oak "is a gift from God, and I want to use it to help others."
She and her husband began helping in the community 19 years ago, during fund raising for an Eden Park Vietnam War memorial. They gave away dozens of roses for specified donations to the fund.
In the mid-1980s the Millards, who have two sons and seven grandchildren, adopted three families for Christmas.
"These were families that had almost nothing," she said. "They slept on a mattress on the floor. We were so touched. We realized how very much we have to share. We've adopted families each year since."
In the late 1980s they began welcoming foreign students into their home.Until recent years, Millard was mentoring five children at a time. She loved seeing their faces when she took them out to eat, gave them a birthday party, or baked cookies.
MS has slowed her down some, but she still helps daily.
"People call me a sucker, but I'd rather be a sucker than risk turning away someone in need," Millard said. "I've had so much and been so blessed, and I can still get around each day. So I have to help."
Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone dedicated to helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 513-755-4150.
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