Not many people can say they are working their “dream job,” but Snowshoe Foundation director Mystik Miller, who took the position this spring, is able to say just that.
“This is my dream job,” she said. “I worked in non-profits for four years in Greenbrier County – and a few other places. Non-profit is my passion. I love community building. I love helping the community.”
Miller is originally from Berkeley Springs, but has lived in several states. She attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and worked in Maryland, California and Illinois before returning to her home state.
“I was thinking about moving back to San Francisco, and I was like, ‘I’m so close to West Virginia, let’s just do a road trip through my home state because it’s really hard to get back here from California,’” she recalled. “I felt so happy and peaceful, and I felt at home.”
Miller stayed with a friend in Lewisburg for what she intended to be a short visit but it happened to be right before the flood of 2016. So, instead of leaving, Miller volunteered to help the community recover and rebuild.
“I had a truck and nothing but time on my hands, so I volunteered at St. James Episcopal,” she said. “I met some people, got offered an AmeriCorps position and I realized this was a good way to figure out if I’m just sentimental about the state and will soon get tired and not want to be here anymore, or if I really want to be here.
“I have not left since.”
One of Miller’s former positions was with the Greenbrier County Health Alliance and that was where she honed her skills of working with the community to improve itself.
“We worked with the smaller communities in Greenbrier County to help them – but not by coming in and saying, ‘You should do this,’” she said. “We identified the people in those communities that were already doing stuff and said, ‘how can we help you? and we gave them the tools; we gave them little mini grants and tried to help them.
“I love that,” she added. “I love working with West Virginians and people who are passionate about their communities. There’s just something so wonderful about it. That’s what I really like and that’s why I’m super excited now that I’m in a granting organization, so I can give, potentially, a lot of money back to the community.”
Miller began her career at Snowshoe Mountain Resort as the marketing admin, which she is still doing until a replacement is hired. Once she heard Kristen Beverage Doss was stepping down as director of the foundation, she immediately jumped at the opportunity to take her place.
“I emailed Sarah Guyette and I was like, ‘I want that job,’” she said, laughing. “Luckily, I got it. I’m super excited. I’m super happy about it. We have a lot of great things going on with the foundation – a lot of community work, a lot of grants, a lot of fundraisers.”
The foundation serves Pocahontas, Randolph and Webster counties and raises funds through three major events – a golf tournament, the Ice Dinner and Treasure on the Mountain. It also organizes a Christmas toy drive in memory of Dave Dekema, who worked at Snowshoe.
“Our main focus is Pocahontas, Webster and Randolph, but it is based on where Snowshoe employees are from, primarily,” Miller said. “I do want to do an examination of that and make sure that we’re serving all the communities that need our help.
“We’re serving such a wonderful area of West Virginia,” she added. “It’s a beautiful part of West Virginia. It’s phenomenal here.”
Along with serving as director of the foundation, Miller is also the community liaison between Snowshoe Mountain Resort and the communities around it.
“One of the things I do is give out lift tickets or golf passes to the community and other non-profits, if they request it,” she said. “I don’t know the history intimately, but I know that we have a long storied history with the community around us – it’s not always good. I would like to fix that because Snowshoe, I think, absolutely bears a responsibility to give back to its community and cultivate that relationship. Everything I’ve seen, they want to do that and they’re willing to do that. They want to make it a great place.”
When she’s not at work, Miller spends her time with her rescue pup, Konan, a lovable and rambunctious boy she got from the Greenbrier County Humane Society. She has also become an avid caver after being introduced to the hobby.
“My other thing is caving,” she said. “I do love caving. I’m actually chair of the Greenbrier Grotto which is the caving club down there. Every second Wednesday I drive all the way down to Greenbrier County – all the way to Lewisburg brewery – and then come back up. It’s a good time. I really enjoy it. It’s one of the things I randomly found here.
“I happened to meet a local caver down at the pub in Lewisburg and we got to talking,” she continued. “He said, ‘if you want to do that as a hobby, come to the club and we’ll get you outfitted and in the cave.’ I’ve been big into it ever since. This is the perfect area for it.”
Miller’s enthusiasm and infectious optimism is fitting for the director of a non-profit which serves the community and she is eager to immerse herself in the community and finally see things get back to normal now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“We’re back to normal,” she said of the Treasure on the Mountain event. “We’re definitely planning on doing it on Snowshoe Mountain again and pretty much getting back to the same, more or less, with a few thoughts to kind of keep people from crowding up too close.
“We’ll have some protections in place for volunteers – like lots of hand sanitizer if they want,” she continued. “Gloves and masks if they want them. We want to protect our people. If anybody wants to wear a mask, of course, they’re welcome to.
“Hopefully, we’ll have good weather for the event.”
Treasure on the Mountain is Saturday, August 7. For more information on the event, visit snowshoefoundation.org