The successful organism is the one that learns to adapt.
Take Amy Miller, president of Altrusa International of Centre County and — up until very recently — someone who had no idea how to go about requesting a proclamation from the Centre County Board of Commissioners.
Because this is a happy story and you don’t get to preside over a group of 33 people by knowing how to whistle, Miller eventually figured it out.
County Commissioner Michael Pipe will present a proclamation honoring the organization’s 66 years of service at a banquet scheduled for early next week.
As far as accomplishments go, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer volume of volunteer projects Altrusa Centre County taken on over the past six decades and change — or what its umbrella organization has managed to achieve in a century. Organized in Nashville, Tenn., in 1917, Altrusa was the first service organization for business and professional women, and clubs all around the world are celebrating a centennial this year.
It’s a victory for me because I didn’t know how to do that two months ago.
Bucketed, bottled or straight from the tap, successfully arranging the proclamation still hit the spot for Miller.
“It’s a victory for me because I didn’t know how to do that two months ago,” Miller said.
We’ll call it one of the fringe benefits of belonging to Altrusa. Sure, you’ll get the immense satisfaction of arranging the annual Easter egg hunt for Park Forest Preschool, preparing Valentine’s Day cards for House of Care or cleaning up a local watershed — without a doubt, all very good things.
But there’s a premium to be placed on personal growth, on being just a little bit better than you were this time last year or the one before that.
Miller didn’t get to rule the roost of Altrusa Centre County without making a few pit stops along the way — rookie, recording secretary— and each has added another new layer to her professional skillset.
I find it to be an organization that fits my needs for being able to give back to the community.
She’s run meetings, spoken in front of large groups and knows how to organize a fundraiser. The crossover potential with her day job as a information resources and support specialist at Penn State’s Pattee Library is huge, making Altrusa secure testing ground for the development of new talents.
“It’s a safe place to take those chances,” Miller said.
Phyllis Corman has been serving Altrusa in various capacities — including a 3-year stint as international president — since 1978, when the professional opportunities for young women were more limited.
She was invited to join by a colleague at the First Bellefonte Bank and Trust Company and the window appeal was evident from the start.
“I find it to be an organization that fits my needs for being able to give back to the community,” Corman said.
Exotic travel to places like New Zealand, Ireland and Britain was also a nice touch.
Most importantly, Altrusa also helped her to develop a range of leadership skills that did not go unnoticed by her employers
“It truly expanded my world,” Corman said.