United Way Day of Action 2017 will be celebrated on June 21, the summer solstice (longest day of the year). On this day, “communities around the world come together to harness the volunteer spirit and improve the conditions in which they live.”
In honor of this day of giving back, the Nevada Journal looks to a community member who is knowledgeable about “giving back” — this past year’s winner of the Nevada Chamber of Commerce’s Harold Fawcett Community Involvement Award, Barb Mittman.
One of Mittman’s biggest community involvements at this point in time is serving as the Ward I City Council representative, a seat she was elected to in November of 2015.
“I sincerely appreciate the chance to engage with residents in meaningful ways,” she said of her council position. “Every meeting agenda and public forum, each email, phone call and conservation, gives me the opportunity to truly listen, expand my thinking, identify needs and work creatively.”
Mittman, 58, has lived in Nevada since 1985 with her husband Bob. Their grown daughter, Katie, is a graduate of Nevada High School and is married to Austin Fortsch.
When she was named as the winner of the Harold Fawcett Community Involvement Award last November, Mittman said it was an honor to be associated with such a community catalyst like Fawcett. “Much of what contributes to the quality of life in Nevada was sparked by Mr. Fawcett’s love of Nevada. It was remarkable to hear others speak (at the awards ceremony) about how I influence life in Nevada, the community I call home.”
During her time in Nevada, Mittman has served in both jobs and volunteer roles that are important to the needs of the community.
Currently, she splits her time between two part-time positions: YSS prevention specialist, where she works with students from the three eastern Story County elementary schools and also students at Nevada Middle School; and internal coach for the Iowa Reading Corps/AmeriCorps literacy tutors at Central Elementary School in Nevada.
With undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, Mittman said she has an affinity for young people, a passion for teaching and a desire to improve and secure the quality of life for children. “I am a certified teacher and taught in public schools immediately following college. When our household relocated to Nevada, I found other ways to use my skills to support children and their families as a professional educator, tutor, writer and as a volunteer.”
When it comes to working and volunteering in her community, Mittman said the quality of life in Nevada is the direct result of collaboration. “Our community leaders work together to make it possible for public, private and corporate interests to bring their plans and proposals to life in Nevada, whether part of the local workforce pool, a customer, student or committed volunteer, all residents team up to help make our community vital.”
One of the best things about Nevada, she said, are the “meetings” that happen throughout this community on a corner, at a ballgame or over coffee. Neighborhoods are important, she said. “I’d like to encourage a block party initiative, and take part in shaping neighboring meet-and-greet events. In my experience, when neighbors have names, issues have faces and caring is genuine, everyone benefits.”
Mittman believes she’s involved in a community where “pride” is a significant assert. “Nevada pride (which she said encompasses passion and commitment) embraces all sectors of our community, from youngest to oldest, in both official and everyday ways. It risks, builds, renovates, dreams, supports, acts, nurtures, cares and…,” she adds, “it’s contagious.”
Her advice: “Get involved.”
Things like Leadership Nevada and the Nevada Chamber of Commerce repeatedly demonstrate how collaboration by those involved can extend our resources and build our capacity to benefit those who live and work in Nevada. When a community offers things like strong schools, a public library, a museum and regional medical and recreational facilities … these are things, she said, that benefit the well-being of residents and keep and attract businesses.
“An active vibrant community life depends on ordinary individuals who genuinely care enough to listen and act in the best interest of others,” Mittman said. If anyone needs help finding ways to get involved, Mittman will help you. She loves networking with others, helping children and volunteering with Food at First, to name a few of the things that keep her busy.
She’d love to help you, too. “Ask me about some of the ways you can express your Nevada Pride!,” she encourages.
Residents can be thinking of those who help make our community the best it can be, and let the chamber know if you have a nominee for this year’s Harold Fawcett Community Involvement Award, which will be presented at the end of the year.