Prairie Profiles: Rick Miller

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

About a year and a half ago, Albert Lean Rick Miller walked into Youth For Christ’s The Rock with the intent of volunteering a few hours a week.

But when he walked out the door that day, he didn’t leave with a volunteer application; he left with an employee application.

Miller said at the time he had suffered from a back injury at a previous job and had been out of work for a little more than a year. The Rock’s director Greg Gudal, who is also a close friend of his, called to see if he’d be willing to help out.

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That was in October of 2007. The rest is history.

Now, as the drop-in center director at The Rock, Miller is in charge of an average of between 45 and 80 kids every day after school and on days when school is canceled.

He said The Rock provides a safe place for children in kindergarten through high school to hang out, where volunteers and staff work to model the love of Jesus Christ.

On some occasions, they’ve even had more than 100 kids in there before, he said.

Miller also gets to oversee some smaller groups and even meet with children one-on-one at times, which he noted is his favorite part of his job, he said.

Age: 42

Address: 2401 Margaretha Ave., Albert Lea

Livelihood: drop-in center director at Youth for Christ’s The Rock

Family: wife, Melonie; one daughter, Chelsea; two sons, Skyeler and Sayge

Interesting fact: For the last three years, Miller has been having to take pain medication and muscle relaxers for his back. On March 2, he went to a prayer meeting at his church and hasn’t had to take another medication since.

He’s been meeting with a group of six boys during the past three and a half months — who get together and talk about their experiences during the week — to give an outlet to turn to if they need one.

He said he’s seen some real development in those boys and in many others who come after school, particularly in regards to showing respect and to how they view things.

Most recently, he’s working to bring an indoor skating ramp into The Rock, which will provide a place for kids to come to skateboard where they know they’re not going to get in trouble.

Miller said in the past there’s been problems with the kids skateboarding downtown, which is against city ordinance.

The ramp that will probably be put in at The Rock is designed so it’s portable. That way when kids get bored, they can change it up a little. It will also be able to go outside, he said.

What: Drug-free Rock Show

Who: high school-age students

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Youth For Christ’s The Rock, 116 W. Clark St., Albert Lea

Info: event is sponsored by Freeborn County Partners in Prevention, working to reduce substance use and abuse among youth in Freeborn County

Youth For Christ in Duluth has a skate park that’s about the size of Albert Lea’s entire Youth for Christ building, Miller said. One of the men who runs that facility is coming down to Albert Lea to help get the indoor ramp going.

In addition to that assistance, Miller said he’s looking for someone who would be interested in taking on the skating ramp as a project because he doesn’t know a whole lot about skating or ramps.

It will be funded by $2,000 in allocated funds from Freeborn County Partners and Prevention, and the rest will be coming from fundraising by the kids who attend the Rock.

Miller anticipated the ramp will go up some time this year.

He wanted to make sure people know The Rock is also always looking for other adult volunteers. Volunteers go through a background check and must have a strong faith.

For donations to the indoor skating ramp or to become a volunteer at The Rock, call 373-1015.