Spirit of Generosity: Susan and Joe Miller
Susan and Joe Miller know about long term,committed relationships.They met at West Pittston High School in 1953, and their relationship is still going strong 61 years later.
So, it’s no surprise that after meeting S. Mary Scullion through their parish priest Fr. Ed Hallinanin the mid-1980’s, Joe and Susan are still committed to Project HOME’s mission. They have been longtime volunteers and donors since before Project HOME became a reality! And they passed this commitment down, as well: their granddaughter Rebecca has volunteered at Project HOME.
Joe’s expertise is in investments, though he took a bit of a circuitous route to his career. After working as a disc jockey and salesman at a commercial radio station while studying speech and journalism at Bucknell University, he served in the Army Artillery for two years. His rotation ended just weeks before his division was sent to Vietnam. Instead, Joe heard about a sales internship at Merrill Lynch, interviewed, and later became one of the company’s youngest-ever vice presidents in his early 30s. Project HOME’s portfolio was worth less than $100,000 when Joe began volunteering at Project HOME, but he helped grow the investments in those first years. Both Susan and Joe volunteered in other areas at Project HOME,serving meals, painting residences, and connecting with residents.
When Project HOME began working in the St. Elizabeth’s neighborhood,Susan and Joe saw a great need and set up a scholarship fund for the children in the area. And each Thursday, Susan and another volunteer, current Trustee Claire Reichlin, would meet on an education committee, diving through best practices and working on plans “to ensure that formerly homeless and other children are given chances to break the vicious cycle of poverty,” says Joe.
Meanwhile, Joe had moved on from Merrill Lynch to join other partners at Valley Forge Investment Corporation. Later, Valley Forge Asset Management was founded, which when sold in 2000 had nearly $900 million under investment. During those years, as Project HOME grew, he and Susan continued to support our efforts. Joe says a strong factor in their supporting Project HOME financially was good leadership. “We saw how hard neighborhood leaders Helen Brown, Priscilla (Ms.T) Bennett, and Chris Whaley were working to help change the lives of the children.
As a group, they are a combination mother,motivator and sergeant!”When Joe and Susan have been thanked for their long-standing financial support of Project HOME, Joe demurs: “You’re expected to do that if you can do it. What I’ve done is minuscule compared to what Project HOME is doing.” Project HOME disagrees. Many relationships don’t last long. But just like Susan and Joe’s marriage, their commitment to Project HOME’s mission has not wavered–in almost 30 years. And Project HOME is very grateful for that.