miriam – the learning disability experts: To improve the quality of life for children with learning disabilities and their families through innovative and comprehensive programs

Q| How long have you been a volunteer?
A| 15 years

Q| What got you interested in this cause?
A| One of my friends was on the board, and her son attended Miriam School. Because I love estate sales and older things, she kept telling me I should help at the nonprofit’s upscale resale shop, Miriam Switching Post, which raises money for the school. I was involved with other volunteer efforts at the time and told her I would look into it later. Unfortunately, she passed away, and that motivated me to get involved. I started by visiting the school, which we encourage all interested volunteers to do, and I was amazed by the services and activities. When I saw how they handled their individual learning programs, I remember thinking how I could have benefited from something like that as a student.

Q| What kind of volunteer work are you involved with?
A| Most of my activities are at the Switching Post on Hanley Industrial Court, and I’m also on the board to represent the shop. It had been around a while when I started, but I made a plan to make it more profitable. Fifteen years ago, the Switching Post was netting $29,000 a year with five volunteers, and now it nets $370,000 with 47 volunteers. Proceeds from sales now make up about one-third of the school’s budget. I’m at the shop about three times each week to stage and rearrange the floor, put out new items, and assist the manager with business activities, like cleaning and valuing each item donated. We value everything that comes in for donors’ tax purposes, which we feel is important even though it’s very time-consuming. We can come to a better price when we do a little research, which just means more money for Miriam. It has been a wonderful learning experience, and everyone at Miriam is so committed. They have become my close friends and a great support system. No money is wasted, and the focus is on making the learning environment special for these children with learning disabilities. It’s very rewarding.

Q| If you could do anything for the organization, what would it be?
A| Because we’re always growing and changing and looking ahead to the future, it would definitely be to get more funds. When the current school was built, it was just elementary grades, but now we go through middle school, and these kids are different and bigger! So we’re trying to expand the building to have a more appropriate space for the older students. How much we’ve grown is something to be proud of we have 96 full-time students and by approaching their disabilities individually, most kids are successful and many go on to college. I was given an opportunity to try new things, and it’s been good for all involved. I hope to continue on!

In the Words of Miriam: “Over the past decade, Linda has worked tirelessly to transform the Miriam Switching Post resale shop into a place people want to return to. She is the driving force behind its recent financial success. As a board member, she has helped make critical and difficult strategic decisions regarding donations, marketing and pricing. Linda is beloved by volunteers and customers, and it is through her hard work that hundreds of families have been able to afford Miriam Schools’ specialized education.”

meet the miriam board
Reaching-Out-Miriam-BoardFront row: Anne Tolan, Linda Kintz, Susie Luten, president Bill Florent, Morrie Zimring, Judi Scissors, Judy Zafft. Second row: Trish Winchell, Kim Nazaruk, Steve Rosenblum, Lloyd Bruce, Stephanie DePlanty, Laurie Caro, Angela Vitale. Third row: Michele Liebman, Don Steele, Lanie Goldenberg, Paul Belfer, Jeffrey Korn, Phil Mainquist, Berry Lane, Matt Fisher. Not pictured: Lynda Higbee, Harry Witte, Linda Estell, Sharon Friedman, Matt Herzberg, Larry Langsam, Barbara Silver, Sandy Washington. (Photo courtesy of Miriam)

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Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton
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