Kevin Miller and Miller’s Mission Reminded Me How Close We Really Are

By Daniel Ritz

Walking into the heated tent, next to the over-sized heated R.V., I have to admit, I was a bit underwhelmed by the environmental hazards of Kevin Miller’s “Miller’s Mission” turkey donation event at the Walmart on Franklin Rd. in Nampa.

It was Friday, Nov. 16, and Kevin, who appeared calm and clean shaven inside the tent, dressed in shorts, had been camping outside in the “elements” for his annual Miller’s Mission.

In this event, Kevin encourages Treasure Valley residents to donate cash and much needed items - most notably turkeys, to the Boise Rescue Mission.

The Mission, led by Pastor Bill Roscoe, houses and feeds thousands of less fortunate Treasure Valley residents.

The concept of homelessness often seems distant, an extreme scenario reserved for the most unfortunate drags of society.

Yesterday, Kevin Miller shared his own story of misfortune, revealing how close he himself came to facing a life on the streets. He explained he was assisted, better yet, rescued by his family network.

Choosing a fantastically fun, but fiscally irresponsible lifestyle myself, I managed to find myself in dire need of assistance, and in need of all the positive karmic energy I could muster.

I wasn’t a drug addict, I had a full time job and multiple degrees, I had simply managed to fall upon hard times.

I, thankfully, am fortunate enough to be able to humorously refer to those times as my “personal recession.”

Kevin and I have a jovial, off-brand sense of professional working relationship. We challenge, joke, and jab at each other.

The largest philanthropic event of his year was certainly not off limits.

“What happened to the turkey suit Kev,” I asked, referring to the full-body turkey suit he can usually be seen in-and-around Miller’s Mission from sunrise to sundown.

“Everyone wants to know about the costume,” Kevin laughed. The whole tent erupted in laughter. I felt like I was missing something.

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After a few more questions Kevin and Pastor Bill were assuredly tired of answering on after nearly six days, I told them I was going to go inside and purchase my own turkeys to donate.

They thanked me, and told the nice young woman named Tabitha who worked with Pastor Bill to accompany me and show me where the turkeys inside the store were located.

I told the duo I could almost certainly find the turkeys myself. They insisted she show me the way.

Tabitha and I quickly began talking. We spoke of her 12-year-old daughter and she asked if I had any children of my own. She laughed heartily when I said I had a 12-year-old dog and that was enough for me at the moment.

Tabitha revealed she met Pastor Bill at the Boise Rescue Mission when she had found herself in hard times with nowhere to live.

Pastor Bill shared that an overwhelming majority of those utilizing the resources of the Boise Rescue Mission are not afflicted by a crisis of addiction, more-than-likely they are the victim of social misfortune.

In fact, most have encountered scenarios each and every one of us are likely to encounter in our lives.

Kevin shared his story, Tabitha was courageous enough to share hers with a stranger -let alone writer and maybe one day I will more deeply share my own story in more intimate details.

No costumes, no theatrics, no drama. Real life. Real people. Your neighbors.

I encourage you to visit Kevin Miller and Pastor Bill Roscoe at Walmart in Nampa today, the last day of this year’s Miller’s Mission, if for nothing other than realizing how simple, accessible and regular looking giving really is. They have had a fantastic week, but I am not going to let you know exactly how well. They can use all the help they can get. Not to mention, I don't really want Kevin to come back to the office. :)

In case you can’t make it, you are encouraged to help here. “I used to take little things, like being able to turn the lights on in my house, for granted” Tabitha shared. “I don’t anymore.”

Don’t wait until a national holiday to be thankful and don’t keep grace at a distance. It’s much closer than you think.