Volunteer Touches Lives

August 20, 2013
CampusIcon

You wouldn’t guess it from his humble attitude but Brad Miller, MNU supervisor of housekeeping, has been honored by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the state’s Department of Corrections. Last May Brad was recognized with the Volunteer of the Year Award from Gov. Brownback for mentoring offenders and demonstrating a positive role model to the KDOC staff, mentors and offenders. Brad has volunteered in the state’s prison system for 31 years. Now he leads the mentoring program at Overland Park Church of Christ where he has trained 28 men and women as volunteer mentors who visit the Lansing, Topeka and Gardner Correctional Facilities.

Brad says mentors commit to at least one year of service and play an important role in inmates lives by helping them get ready for parole and life outside prison. Mentors help inmates navigate the transition by being supportive, teaching interviewing skills and how to make good financial decisions.

While mentors Brad works with bring a Christian perspective to the role, they do many kinds of activities with inmates.

“Our crew played softball versus the inmate team,” Brad says. “The youngest mentor was 58 and the oldest was 82. Afterward we had a Q and A session and the inmates asked questions. We always feel safe because most of the inmates respect what the mentors do. They know why you’re there.”

Early in in his volunteer work Brad helped conduct Bible studies at the Lyon County (Kan.) Jail.

“About 25 men would come to this room with broken down ping pong tables,” Brad says. “The guards would leave two of us volunteers with them.”

There he met an inmate he will never forget. A Satanist, the man came to Bible study as a way to get out of his cell.

“He was the meanest looking guy I had ever seen,” Brad relates. “He was quiet and intimidating. Finally he started asking questions and over time came to realize he needed Christ.”

Brad says the man threw away his book on Devil worship and was one of 10 men baptized at the county jail in a horse tank Brad was allowed to bring for the service.

Brad’s experiences have made him passionate about the mentoring program. He speaks highly of Gov. Brownback’s Mentoring4Success, a statewide initiative that  pairs community-based service organizations with mentors and works closely with the Kansas Department of Corrections to match eligible offenders to mentors as part of reentry. So far the program has helped train more than 2000 mentors including Brad’s group.

Brad says the program’s goal is to train 5000 mentors and interested individuals are invited to attend a free conference for mentors October 12, 2013, at Overland Park Church of Christ, 119th and Pflumm. Governor Brownback will give the keynote address, box lunches are provided, and participants should preregister at mentors-conference.com or by emailing M4Sconf@kc.rr.com or calling (913) 208-6959.

fac-services011useBrad Miller (back right) with MNU housekeepers Juan Mompin, Miriam Castaneda, Maria Melo, Flor Hernandez, Socorro Alvarez and Susana Vicente

Brad and his wife Marti moved to Olathe in 2010 after a 30-year career as an elementary school principal in Kansas. His long history of teaching and leading others has translated well into his role at MNU. Brad’s employees appreciate his kind manner and helpful demeanor. Juan Mompin has been with MNU housekeeping for nine years and says Brad is a good supervisor.

“Brad is a really good boss and a nice person too,” Mompin says. “He listens to everything we need and he helps a lot when we are busy. I can trust him, and not just me but all the employees feel that way.” 

Mompin says that his fellow employees in housekeeping like to repay Brad’s kindness by taking extra shifts when needed and performing at their highest standard.

“I love it here,” Mompin adds. “I’ve worked in different places, but this is not like other places. The energy is happy.”

“MNU has been a blessing to me,” Brad states. “I have a lot of close friends here now. I believe in what it stands for. I even recruited my niece to get her nursing degree here.”

No matter what he’s doing, Brad puts the Lord first and says it makes a huge difference in the mentoring program.

“The Lord is so important in the mentoring process,” Brad says. “The men can see the power of the love of the Lord. I’m convinced the Holy Spirit is putting together mentors with inmates that have commonalities. Several of the KDOC officials have recognized it too. God is working in this program.”