We’re so lucky at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to have a staff of hardworking, committed team-players who work tirelessly at our mission of building affordable housing and enriching community life.
In this series, you’ll get to know the people behind the work.
Tell us about yourself.
Mildred ‘Millie’ Lukens is a wife and a mother of eight children with six grandchildren. During her free time, she enjoys reading, riding her bike, and playing tennis. On the weekends, she hosts large family dinner gatherings in her Old Victorian house.
What do you do at NWBRV?
Millie is currently the Resident Services Coordinator for the Meadows, NWBRV’s Senior living community located in North Smithfield. She’s responsible for providing services and assistance to 80 apartments and 90 residents with ages averaging at about 80 years old. More specifically, Millie coordinates with outside community partners to provide residents with exercise and nutrition classes, art classes, and other programs to enhance their health and enrich their social lives!
How long have you been working with NWBRV, and how did you start working with the organization?
Millie started working for Neighborworks three years ago, a few months after she graduated from Rhode Island College with a bachelors in Social Work. Weeks after graduating, Millie was interesting in started her career near her home in Warwick, RI. But was finding that local social work positions were only available for bilingual candidates – however, an advertisement for Neighborworks on indeed caught Millie’s eye. Because the job was in Woonsocket, RI, she wasn’t thrilled about going for the interview since she didn’t want to drive to Northern Rhode Island everyday. After her interview she:
…fell in love immediately with the facility, with the woman who was going to be my boss, with the woman who I was going to be working with on a daily basis. It was a perfect fit.
What is your proudest accomplishment during your time with NWBRV?
One of Millie’s proudest accomplishments is establishing the exercise program for residents in the large community room. The program began after residents expressed that they didn’t want to commute to classes provided by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island or the Woonsocket Senior Center, Inc. So, Millie coordinated with Blue Cross to start free yoga classes for the residents and others in the community!
Additionally, Millie is most proud of relationships with the residents. She’s made it her mission to learn who people are and develop relationships with them to understand what their needs are.
…one of the things that COVID-19 has done is made me reorient my priorities as far as what I feel is most important for my residents…
Because of COVID-19 – and her ongoing relationships with residents – Millie’s new goals are to provide a universal WiFi connection in the building, devices for all of the residents, and one-on-one technology training for residents unfamiliar with modern technology. Through her regular checkups with residents, she’s learned how huge a deficit technology is in the building. Especially during times like COVID-19, where face-to-face interactions are restricted. Many residents don’t have internet or a device to maintain contact; in fact, only 11 of the 90 residents have a smartphone. Which is not enough for scheduling appointments with the DMV or looking up any other information they may need.
What inspires you to do this work?
The daily satisfaction of providing support for these folks…
As mentioned above, Millie’s proudest accomplishment is her relationship with residents. These relationships are what inspire her to do this work. Even COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Millie from continuing her relationships – unable to visit residents, Millie has used her phone to contact residents monthly – sometimes weekly – to ask them how they are doing and if they need anything.
It’s that feeling of making a difference…
What a gift it is to have such a dedicated resident services coordinator on the NWBRV team. Check back for insights into other NWBRV staff and board members.