When Circuit City closed its doors, local workers suffered. But at least one, Jennifer Miller, decided to generate some positive energy from the situation.
Miller immediately started a volunteer group, Transition Troopers, for workers who'd been laid off at Circuit City and other corporations. The goal was to help keep them busy during their job search while also helping the community through Hands On Greater Richmond.
“You lose your identity when you lose your job,” Miller says. “Your whole work family is gone.” But her group of volunteers could find support in each other while doing good. “It was a place to go and see a friendly face,” she says.
Miller was fortunate to find a job within 10 weeks as a communications director with engineering company AECom. But she remains a busy volunteer through Hands On, Feed More, and her most personal endeavor, race committees for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure — her grandmother and best friend's mother are breast cancer survivors. There, she's helped increase teams by 25 percent.
Miller says it was the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” that originally inspired her to pursue volunteer work in 2006. “Every single week I would be so touched I would cry,” she says. “Finally, after months, I had to do something.”
The Circuit City group she started continues to spread and help those affected by layoffs, not to mention providing the volunteer agencies with a revolving turnstile of capable people who want to give back.
“With volunteering that much, you start small,” Miller says of her many community efforts. “Then it just builds and you want to do more.”