Former Registered Nurse, Co-Founder and Operator of Gather-In Farm
For as long as she can remember, Ann Miller has always wanted to help those in need. This shines through in her career, which has been dedicated to providing care for others.
In 1954, Mrs. Miller was married to her husband Robert, whom she met at Adelphi. Following her graduation from Adelphi’s School of Nursing in 1955, she began working in the nursery and obstetrics at Doctors Hospital in Freeport, New York. A year later, Mrs. Miller had her first baby, and her career shifted from taking care of patients to taking care of her children. Between 1956 and 1963, the couple had four children.
Although she was no longer in the clinical setting, Mrs. Miller managed to stay current in the field by reading nursing publications. As her children grew older, she served as the superintendent of the local church’s Sunday school, a position she held for over 25 years. She was also a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, and Community Women’s Club.
Mrs. Miller was involved with drug and alcohol prevention and recovery programs throughout her husband Robert’s career in education administration. She provided support for her husband’s schools, assisted him with case studies and school health issues, and helped develop an alcohol and drug awareness curriculum. Mrs. Miller attended training seminars for various substance abuse leaderships, and held community drug and alcohol abuse conferences in local school districts. Because of their work, Mrs. Miller and her husband were invited to attend and participate in President Reagan’s White House Conference for a Drug-Free America.
When Mrs. Miller and her husband retired in 1994, they purchased the property neighboring their Hudson River Valley dairy farm, and established what they fondly refer to as their “retirement project.” Incorporating their passion for providing care with their years of experience in substance abuse recovery, Mrs. Miller and her husband opened Gather-In Farm. “The farm is a unique model to privately help people in substance-abuse recovery through rental incomes and donations,” explains Mrs. Miller. At the Farm, Mrs. Miller and her husband oversee and manage the programs, projects, finances, buildings, and grounds of Gather-In Farm.
The farm’s name stems from their daily work. “That’s exactly what we do here,” says Mrs. Miller, “we gather in.” At the house, Mrs. Miller and her husband hold alcohol-free community activities such as school and professional conferences, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for adults and teens, as well as social activities, concerts, open mic nights, and more. “We are where we want to be,” says Mrs. Miller, who sees how important the services they provide at the Farm are to the surrounding community.
“Some people have been addicted for such a long time that they have difficulty adjusting to their new lives,” says Mrs. Miller, who feels she and her husband are there to guide them. “Great healing stories have come out of this experience,” says Mrs. Miller, as people have left the Farm and gotten married, reunited with loved ones, and returned to their families. “We believe in what we do so much,” says Mrs. Miller. In 2004, Mrs. Miller received a “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Adelphi for her work.
Mrs. Miller and her husband recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. They enjoy all the activities of a working farm, along with their four children and nine grandchildren. They are affectionately called Mom and Pop, not only by their family, but by people in town, who are constantly stopping in to see how they are doing. “Our greatest joy is helping those in the community, from youth to elderly,” says Mrs. Miller.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
Coming from a family of nurses and doctors, I knew I wanted to help others. I always wanted to go to college. I went to Garden City High School, so I grew up knowing about Adelphi University. After I applied to Adelphi, I was so anxious to know if I got in. My high school classmate’s mother worked at Adelphi, and was able to tell me I was accepted before the official notice was mailed home!
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
The week-long orientation over the summer was very dear to me. We were able to see the clubs and opportunities for involvement that Adelphi had to offer. It also gave us the opportunity to meet older nursing students.
During my first summer at Adelphi, I took a sociology course where we would take a trip into the city every Saturday. We visited churches, synagogues, and mosques; it was a wonderful program that immersed us in different cultures. I think that course was the reason all my classmates became so close. It broke down all barriers that existed among us, and meshed us together. This class also gave us a huge advantage when we began our careers as nurses, because we were able to better understand our patients.
I met my husband Robert at Adelphi. I was not aware of it at the time, but he was actually the driver of the bus into the city for that summer sociology course. We were also in the same education class. Bob and his buddy would keep the class going because they loved to talk and talk about education. After Thanksgiving break, however, Bob didn’t return to class. I asked his friend where he was, not out of concern, but because I didn’t want to have to talk in class. His friend went back and told Bob I was asking for him. Apparently Bob then approached my sorority mother to throw a party. They did throw a party, and I didn’t go! Bob then asked my sorority mother if he could have a date with me. She said yes, and our first date was at an Adelphi Square Dance.
I was and still am a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a national sorority. In my sophomore year, I was chosen for the Daisy Chain.
My teachers were wonderful. Justina Eisenhauer taught medical and surgical nursing. She was a friend to all her students. Dean Margaret Shay worked hard and ran an excellent program; she hired wonderful teachers. Dr. Louise Ware taught Family, Marriage, and Parenthood; she gave us preparation for life experiences. I remember one point she made in class: our generation was not caring for our elders, and that was not good. This really struck me, and Bob too, who took the course during his time at Adelphi as well. We both vowed that wherever we landed, we would make room for our parents.
When I was a 17 year old teenager I joined the nursing class with 21 other teenagers. All the girls in my class were very special and were well chosen. We studied, socialized, and went through the maturation process from adolescence to adults together. This included boyfriends, engagements, marriages, babies, family problems, etc. Today we are still best lifelong friends, and we are still in touch. We had a reunion in 2004 and 10 of the 22 “girls” came from all over the United States. The Adelphi Nursing Program helped mold our lives and our friendships, giving us joy and support, as well as expertise in nursing.
Looking back, my Adelphi degree has been invaluable. The integration of general education and professional training through the coordinated program of health, mental hygiene, and social services prepared me well for all my career roles, especially at the Gather-In Farm. I am thankful for my fine education at Adelphi. I am honored to have received the “Distinguished Alumni Award” in 2004.
I had a wonderful life and education at Adelphi. I highly recommend the nursing program, and I am impressed with the growth, accomplishments, and excellence of our school. Congratulations Adelphi!
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Develop a spiritual life; it will sustain you. Pray before participating in difficult procedures. Upon completion, before leaving the room, stand back; observe the patient and the surrounding area.
Stay current; attend classes and work intermittently even if family life prevents you from working full time.
Practice and teach prevention for a healthy life.
Nursing is so important and your education is so outstanding that you will be ready and available when needed in all walks of life!