By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Since she and husband Roy relocated from Hawaii to Millington, Lois Wilber said aloha to the Millington Crisis Center.
After nearly three decades of dedicating her extra time, energy and efforts to the Flag City facility, Lois announced her retirement as director of the Millington Crisis Center effective Feb. 1.
“The biggest reason is because I’ve been working at the Crisis Center for 29 and half years in different capacities,” she said. “I took over as director in January 2002. Two weeks after I moved her I joined the Crisis Center. That was in 1988 in August. That’s when I started volunteering.”
From volunteer to director, Wilber said she had the pleasure of working with several like-minded individuals over the years who wanted to assist those in need from the Millington area.
Wilber has guided the Crisis Center through fundraising, communitywide drives and a move to its current home located at 8133 Wilkinsville Road.
Current Crisis Center Board Chairman Mike Caruthers said Wilber is heading over the reins to very capable hands.
“We’ll have co-directors with Debra Sigee and Patricia Warner,” he said. “We’re basically reorganizing with a new Board of Directors.”
Caruthers and Wilber agreed they see the Crisis Center heading into a fresh and better direction to continue to serve the needs of Millington residents.
The community will have a chance to meet new director Sigee and assistant director Warner this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Open House. The center will start taking appointments that day.
As Wilber departs she reflected on several appointments she attended to over the years. Some were pleasant while others made her endure the toughest part of the job.
“Saying no when you don’t have the funds,” she recalled. “To be honest, I invested in some people’s need personally. It shouldn’t have come to that. But I can see where they were, how long they were there. A lot of people came once or twice. And that’s all they needed help with.
“And then there are people who came and came and came,” Wilber added. “They did not understand that resources are limited. And to be fair you have to have something for everybody.”
Meanwhile others used their trip to the Crisis Center as a “hand up” and not a “hand out.” Wilber said she can tell countless stories of people who got a job through the Crisis Center and moved up to management.
“Just the connect with the people is what I’ll miss most,” she said. “That’s the hardest part to let go. We have a whole bunch of people out here who don’t have support.
“My husband and I want to travel,” Wilber concluded. “It’s just time. I see the parents when we give out Christmas toys. And they say, ‘If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t have Christmas.’”
Caruthers said he hopes that will be Wilber’s lasting legacy as the Crisis Center continues to serve the community.
“Lois Wilber probably has one of the biggest hearts in Millington,” he said. “She’s helped hundreds and hundreds of people at the Crisis Center. And everybody in town appreciates that. And we’re going to keep the Crisis Center going and continue to do the same thing.”