UNSUNG HEROES 2022
This photo from 2018 shows Milly Burkhart and Debbie Hardin as Baptist Health Corbin honored Burkart at their volunteer banquet . Burkhart received special recognition that year . | Photo contributed
Burkhart has been a volunteer at Baptist Health Corbin since 2014 , according to Debbie Hardin , Director of Volunteer Services at Baptist Health Corbin .
“ She lights up the room wherever she goes and always makes people feel special ,” said Hardin . “ We feel very blessed that she is part of the Baptist family . She has such a big heart , always serving others .”
Burkhart has , in fact , always been serving others .
The seeds of service were planted in her heart when she was a young girl growing up in Harlan County . During her early days in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky , she observed and , 30 years later , emulated one person — her mother . Burkhart said her mother was a servant , always thinking of others . Naturally , the seeds of service were planted within Burkhart , who now at the age of 65 , has volunteered in nursing homes , churches , hospice , and numerous civic organizations . Her resumé also includes a once joyful experience as a
Salvation Army bell ringer among countless other services .
Highly educated but retired now , she is making service to others a passion in the second chapter of her life and it ’ s fulfilling to say the least . Through her involvement in hospice , Burkhart has even had the opportunity to be a part of a few dying wishes .
“ Never in my life would I think I would be involved in a thing like that ,” she said . “ What a privilege and a sacred thing .”
But looking back it was those early days spent around older women , her mother and grandmother looking out for other in the community that really shaped her . She didn ’ t run around playing with other children or even teenagers . She ran with the adults , doing adult things , including visiting the sick , writing notes and taking food to families .
Today when service opportunities present themselves to Burkhart , she is reminded of the words her mother said : with every encounter you look into the face of God .
And as much as she serves with her civic organizations , she equally serves in ways that would otherwise go unnoticed . Much of her time is spent trying new recipes in the kitchen , to which she prepares a little extra to take to her neighbors down the street or even her friends down the interstate . She gladly takes her older friends and neighbors to appointments they wouldn ’ t otherwise be able to make . Some might say she has an intuition about her as to who might be in need during a particular season in life .
“ There are many people in the community who work hard for others , and they go unnoticed ,” said Burkhart . “ For example , the volunteers with the White Flag , backpack program , food banks , etc … all are incredible acts of kindnessall around us . All of us can be involved in some way .”
Burkhart said even something as simple and cliché as a smile can make all the difference to someone having a bad day .
“ We bloom where we are planted ,” she said . “ I am here . These are my people , and I will serve them . A day will come when I depend on the kindness of strangers . I pray there is someone for me .” Likely someone will be . Corbin Breast Care Employee Conna Boggs described Burkhart as simply the best . “ She is kindhearted , always ready to listen and lend a helping hand ,” said Boggs . “ She is full of spunk and makes the time she is here so enjoyable . The patients love her and so do we . Milly is a true hero in my book , and she doesn ’ t even wear a cape .”
Burkhart said she didn ’ t receive the gift of a singing voice , sewing or crafts but rather her talent is to sit with the dying , to prepare a meal , to send a card or to get someone to their appointment .
Off the cuff , she says she ’ s just helping a little . Upon more reflection she discloses that to have been loved , blessed , and used by God is true happiness .
“ She lights up the room wherever she goes and always makes people feel special . We feel very blessed that she is part of the Baptist family . She has such a big heart , always serving others .”