2019 Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award
Honoring Ruth Miller

Post

The annual Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award is is presented to a community trailblazer, who embodies our founder -  Frances Wisebart Jacobs’ leadership and philanthropy, and personify the mission of United Way. This award recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in longevity of service, generosity of giving and passion to address pressing societal issues, thereby making our community a better place – today and tomorrow.

This year, we recognize a compassionate and dedicated individual who has a long history of supporting United Way – Ruth Miller. Read on to learn Ruth’s story.

How did you first get involved with United Way?
I’ve been involved with United way since 1981. I had moved to Woodland and was at a loss to get involved. My mentor/employer suggested that I volunteer with the local United Way to gain insights into what the community does to help people.  I volunteered to be on a committee that met with and advised on the needs of the community and the agencies. After the initial volunteer experience, I was asked to serve on the board. I served on the Woodland United Way Board for a total of 15 years including two years of Presidency and served as the Chair for the Yolo County Council, reporting to both UWCCR and WUW.  I also served for 3 years on the UWCCR Board in 1999, 2000 & 2001.  I then served again on UWCCR and have continued to give to both campaigns over the years. 
 
Tell us about a moment with United Way that you makes you proud.
This is hard. So many moments.  One of the early memories from WUW, we had a part-time ED and she did not go out to the campaigns. This was a very grass-roots organization and each board member was in charge of a specific industry. Mine was finance and Insurance. I ran the campaigns for Blue Shield, who worked on shifts and in the middle of the night I would go out to the various campaigns.  In those days we all had goals and I was able to share the story of individual lives and families that were impacted by the WUW.  Another one of my favorite activities over the years with Women United is teaching life skills to the Foster youth.  Everything from gardening, cooking, dress for success and interviewing skills.  My favorite teaching experience was in the form of teaching the students how to mend clothing. I used ‘little monsters’ stuffies to teach the students how to hem clothing, sew on a buttons, and other simple skills using their creative side.  We had so much fun with the project and the variety of the monsters and who they were going to give them was a highlight.  I even met one of the students who grew up in my hometown and we bonded over making monsters. He was intrigued that my Grandmother worked in the fields, just like his grandparents and parents. He told me that he was thankful that a stranger cared about him and the other students and thanked me for caring.
More recently, the success of the Women United. As a charter member for the 17 years, it has been so great to watch some of the children we had in our programs grow to be successful adults that are thriving. Some of their stories were horrific and what they overcame, it has helped me understand the human spirit with a little help can do anything!  As we go forward with our Square One Project, I continue to see growth in our five county region, and the future is brighter for students and their families.
 
Why do you volunteer with United Way?
Again, so many reasons.  First and foremost, I can help in this way. I feel a need to give back to my fellow people and I am always left better by the experience.  The volunteering has always given me more than I ever gave of talent, time or treasures.  My treasure is the hearts we’ve helped along the way.  I also like the fact that UWCCR is so collaborative and I’ve been able to experience so many amazing programs and people. 
 
How does United Way make a difference in our community?
In several ways. First, assessing needs. We ask, we listen.  We are present. We are seen in action making a difference.  I have heard many testimonials over the past 38 years. 

What does Frances Wisebart Jacobs award mean to you?
Well first, Frances  was known as the “Mother of Charities”.  Her story touches my heart, as I’ve always considered myself a “Nurturer, or Mother figure”.  Children are our most valuable treasures and hold the key to our future. If we can make a difference in their lives and their families’ lives, we make sure they know strangers care and want to make sure they are educated, fed, clothed and cared for.  If we can do this, what a different tomorrow will be!  Mrs. Jacobs also was a hands-on charitable giver; she gave of all things and primarily her time.  I admire her and am proud to stand with other women who make an intention decision to help others, no matter the cost of time or money. 

Tell us more about your community.
I live in Woodland and work in Woodland. I am grateful to this community that welcomed me and helped me with my career, raising my family and enjoying life. The friends I have been blessed with in this community as well as the greater 5 county region is my life’s joy.  I am involved with my church family in Rancho Cordova, as well as my Choir family – Woodland Chamber Singers. My work family of WSR Insurance has been my home for 39 years.  All of my support systems have encouraged me to continue to serve with United Way and I hope to continue well into the future.  I am grateful to the UWCCR and for the education I have gained by serving.