Sharon Miller

Listen

What is the best business decision you have made? Adopting a community investment model for developing and sustaining camping opportunities for adults with special needs. We chose to invest in creating and maintaining relationships over time with three organizations already based in the community: The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Riverside Camp and Retreat Center, and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida. We shared a vision and chose to implement it through a partnership model.

What is the best life decision you have made? Embracing my Christian faith. My faith has led me to make choices in my personal and professional life that embrace the calling God placed in my heart rather than choosing to be a victim.

What is the most important change you’d make in (or about) Southwest Florida? I would love to create a “future” forum for public and private sector experts to meet, exchange ideas, create opportunities for identifying and addressing the isolation and unmet needs of adults with special needs and their families/caregivers.

What advice would you give to a 12-year-old girl today? Stay in school, work very hard to do the best you can in school. Find at least one teacher, counselor, family member, faith-based mentor to share your dreams with. Stick with the one or ones who encourage you to find your special gifts and talents.

… to a male or female high school student? Take responsibility for your own achievement—it is a foundation for all future success. Be mindful, when a dream seems impossible– it can sometimes become possible in a different way. Find at least one teacher, counselor, family member, faith-based mentor who is able to help you find your passion by encouraging your creativity and hope for the future.

… to a young man or woman entering college? Take responsibility for your own successes and failures — and learn from both. Make choices, cultivate an attitude that you can learn from all experiences. Above all, listen to ALL points of view. You don’t have to agree with someone to choose a personal path of reconciliation. Listen and look for possibilities.

Other than family members, who influenced you the most in your youth? Specific teachers, pastors, heroes about whom I have read have all influenced me. Perhaps the greatest impact in my youth were my life experiences with extreme poverty, individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities, migrant families, race riots in the city of Detroit.

What is your favorite leisure activity and why? Playing tennis. Physical exercise relaxes me, stretches my imagination, and changes the focus of my day to wellness.