Kathleen and Paul Roller
During a visit to a Next Door classroom earlier this year, Paul Roller all of the sudden noticed a tug on his pant leg.
“When I stood up to go, he didn’t want to let go,” Roller recalled with a laugh.
That tug came from a boy in the Head Start program, and it was a moment Roller can’t forget.
“It just tears at your heart that here’s a kid that liked me obviously and looked up and it was just a heart-warming experience to see that,” he said.
It’s that kind of sweet connection that keeps Next Door dear to Roller’s heart. He is one our longest-serving donors, who began supporting Next Door more than 30 years ago while working for Miller Brands. After retiring in 2002, Roller, along with his wife, Kathleen, continues to share his generosity.
“I’m results-oriented, so when I see kids coming out of this program ready to go into first grade or kindergarten and directed to places where they have an opportunity, that’s just a terrific thing and hopefully that lasts until they can get through high school,” Roller said.
Roller’s time at Next Door includes firsthand views of the children’s education. A class making caterpillars stands out.
“We talked about the number of pieces that were on that little pipe cleaner, the colors of the pieces and they were right on, so it’s just affirmation of what we’ve done,” he said.
On top of the children’s programming, Roller admires Next Door’s support for parents with adult education services.
“That’s something I bring up with anybody I talk to about Next Door,” he said. “You have parents that want to keep up with their kids and be able to read to them and they are not literate. So what an opportunity, not only to have an effect on these kids, but the whole family.”
Inspired by this holistic approach at Next Door, Roller and his wife decided to expand their philanthropy with planned giving through a life insurance policy.
“This year, I just decided that I wanted to do something today that’s more significant and can set things up for the future, so Next Door was one of the recipients of that policy. I feel very good about that,” Roller said.
There is one more thing that makes Roller feel good about Next Door – seeing the children at pick-up time with their parents.
“It’s just so rewarding to know that they’ve had a great morning and they’ve learned something,” he said. “You can see the brightness in their faces and their eyes.”