Who are YLPers? Why, all of us who call Yosemite Lakes Park our home. We’re more than an HOA, we are a community of people who love where we live!
More than just a place of majestic mountain views, YLP is people — individuals of all backgrounds and interests. In this series of periodic profiles, we hope to introduce you to many of these folks — to YLOA board members, to managers, to employees, to our valued volunteers and notable neighbors who share our 21 square miles of Sierra foothills. We hope you enjoy learning about these YLPers.

This week it’s YLOA Director and board Secretary Kathy Miller, a longtime nurse, teacher and avid walker. A nearly 30-year resident, she talks to and knows many community members and believes the association’s top priorities should be maintaining roads and the water system.

Kathleen Leilani Miller

Tell us about your early life, where you were born and grew up, recollections

Can I tell you how my parents met first? My mother was a Hawaiian living on Oahu. She was somewhere between three quarters and seven-eighths Hawaiian. She was working at Tripler (Army Medical Center) and my dad was a doctor for the military.

He was a tall, handsome, blue-eyed doctor and he meets his gorgeous Hawaiian lady and asks her for a date, several times. Finally, she says yes.  They were married and moved back to West Virginia, which was where my older brother was born. They moved to Chillicothe, Ohio two years later, and that’s where I was born. My parents gave all of us Hawaiian middle names.  Mine is Leilani.  Hawaiian names and words often have more than one meaning.  Leilani means heavenly flower, or child of God. 

My father was hired at a hospital in Ventura County California, and that’s where my little sisters and brother were born. My youngest life that I recall was in Ventura County.

We started out in Camarillo and lived there until I was in my teens, then moved to Ventura. That’s where I graduated from high school and where I attended nursing school. I received my nursing degree there when I was 21 and my first nursing jobs were there.

Tell me about your school and education, what you wanted to be.

One day while I was riding my horse, when I was about 13 years old, I decided that I either wanted to be a nurse or a veterinarian. That feeling was something that stayed with me through the years. I love animals, I love people and I wanted to do one of those two things. I’m very thankful that I became a nurse, although I would have also loved being a veterinarian.

I took my prerequisites and general education classes, and then the two-year RN program at Ventura College. I took my state boards after graduating.  That was almost 40 years ago.

Where have you worked?

The first hospital that I worked at was Community Memorial in Ventura. It also ended up being the hospital where all my sons were born.  I started out in cardiology telemetry, ICU and CCU. I also worked on ortho/neuro floors, where they do total knees, back surgeries, things like that.

When my first son was born, I decided that I didn’t want to work full-time. I wanted to stay home with my kids as much as possible, so I started working in home healthcare and I was able to do a lot of that out of my house. I did that until my third son was born.

Ryan is now 36, Joel is 33 and Jesse is 31. All attended Fresno State. Ryan studied computer technology and is an assistant manager at a Lowe’s in the Fresno area, Joel is a paralegal working for a law firm in Fresno, and Jesse is a mechanical engineer working in aerospace.

They’re all wonderful young men. They all are very good to my husband and I.  They all have bought their own homes. Two of them are married.  Both of their wives are wonderful ladies.

Tell us about your husband and how you met.

My husband (Gary Miller) and I met at a Christian ministry. I’ve believed in Jesus since I was a child. When I was young, we went to church, but I had quit going as a teen. I met some Christian friends in college. I eventually moved in with some other Christian girls.

I met my husband at a Christian coffee house that was being run on Main Street in Ventura.

We got married November 27th, 1982. We’re 38 years married, coming up on 39 this year.

While we lived in Ventura he worked on custom homes from Beverly Hills to Santa Barbara. He worked on a lot of beautiful houses. If he had a nice project, he would say, “Kathy, come on over. See what I just did.”  He was a finish carpenter. He did a lot of nice finish work and continued doing that after moving here.

Where did you work in this area?

I worked at the nursing home in Oakhurst for about a year and a half. When I was ready to get back into acute care, I started working in Fresno on a neuro and respiratory unit. We had a lot of ventilator dependent patients. I was a nursing supervisor, charge nurse for about 30 patients on the average, about ten out of the 30 were on ventilators. I worked there for about 11 years and I loved it.

Then I worked as a nursing director for a hospital in downtown Fresno, but I missed the patient care. So, someone suggested that I become a nursing instructor. I signed on as a teacher, got my teaching credential.  The great thing about being a nursing instructor is that you still get to be a nurse because you’re taking your students to the hospitals, but no more working nights, weekends or holidays as nurses so often do.

She is still doing that work part-time but is technically retired. I also asked her what it takes to be a nurse.

Hopefully, people get into nursing because they want to do something good. If you do it because of the money, you’re just not the right person for nursing. You need to have compassion for people, be willing to work hard, work well under stressful situations to be an effective nurse.

So, what brought you and your family to YLP?

Probably the same reason most people come up here.  We were on a trip to Yosemite. We drove past YLP on the way to Yosemite with a family member, and we thought, okay, we’re going to make another trip up here and look around. In Ventura construction was kind of drying up at the time.  I knew that I probably would not have any difficulty getting a nursing job if we moved.

So, they found a home site on North Dome and had a four-bedroom, two-bath home built, moving into it in February 1992.

Did you have an interest in YLOA matters while working and raising your family here?

 I didn’t go to the meetings on a regular basis for quite a while. Maybe once a year, but I was also one of those parents working full time, raising my kids, helping in their classes, helping with the AWANA program at (Yosemite Lakes Community) church, in addition to soccer games, baseball games etc. with the kids. 

I only maybe went to one meeting a year, mostly because I was really busy. I very much admire those people who have been on the board who have done it while raising their kids and working a full-time job. I have no idea how they did it. It’s incredible.

What are the things that you give most of your attention to when it comes to the association and how things work around here?

I know people probably think that I’m the tennis court lady, but the truth is I’m not — I used to play tennis. Now my body says, no, you’re not going to play any tennis anymore.

 I ran for the board because I wanted the homeowners to have a voice and I wanted their priorities to be represented on board and the association. What I kept hearing as the homeowners’ top priorities were the roads and the water pipes.  I mean, the other amenities are also important, and we’re obligated to, and should, maintain all of them. But some things that affect every single resident, to me, should be top priority, namely the roads and the water pipes.

I am on the Governing Documents, DASH, and Election committees, and being on these committees does require a certain amount of time.

At what point did you decide I’m going to try to run for the board and what was your motivation there?

When I was getting ready to retire, I thought about what I was going to do with my time.  I had in the past year or so, prior to my retirement, started to go to some of the meetings.  After I retired, I went to most of the board meetings, called in to the Q&As, attended some of the town halls. I had, as had many people I know, been concerned by how much the dues had been increasing in recent years.  After speaking to several past board members, I decided to run.

What would be your assessment of your time on the board so far? What have you learned?

The truth is, I was going to the meetings regularly for at least a year before I was on the board, and I was starting to learn about the Davis-Stirling Act, and I already knew our bylaws fairly well. As new laws come up, I’m learning some new things.  As far as learning about the association in itself and how it operates, I think I knew a fair amount maybe just because of living here for so long.

What would you like to tell others who may want to run for the board?

First, they should be going to the board meetings for a while. Also, they need to know our Bylaws and DORs and they need to start learning about the Davis-Stirling Act….

Board members need to refer to these documents when making decisions.  These documents regulate how HOAs are to be run.

Most, well all, of the homeowners should know something about the Bylaws and DORs, because we all received copies of them when we bought our properties.  I think the Communications Committee is working on educating the homeowners about some of those things.

What is it like working together with other board members? I mean, there are differences of opinion.  How do you see that as being valuable to the membership or to the way we’re going?

I think it’s important to work well with others.  When we have a difference of opinion, my feeling is that we should be respectful. We can learn from others when we listen to another person’s perspective.

I think that when we as a board discuss issues, we need to keep the homeowners, and their priorities in mind.  Sometimes when you are in a small group your attention can be drawn away from the larger group, the homeowners.  The HOA exists to serve the members, their priorities should be at the forefront of our minds when the board makes decisions.

When the board has discussions, we have seven human beings in the same room. We’re not all going to think the same thing all the time.  I try always to treat others in a respectful manner.

What do you desire long-term for YLP?

 I’m very thankful that this week they’re going to start working on the roads….  And I know that that is a top priority for the homeowners, so I’m happy about that.

Regarding the pipeline replacement project, hopefully we’re hiring a new engineer very soon. I know they’re interviewing somebody. So, hopefully that can get going again. The pool and the tennis courts are on schedule for the next fiscal year. The pool area definitely could use some updating. The tennis courts are in poor condition with cracks and trip hazards and things like that.  I’m thankful that those are getting work done.

How important is volunteering in YLP?

I think people should follow what’s important to them. Because if you have a passion for something, that’s where you’re going to put your energy. I’ve been involved with other aspects of volunteerism as far as church. That’s just a natural thing to do. And of course, volunteering for YLP also helps keep our costs down and so that could be a good motivator for people.

Do you think YLP Cares is a good idea to help people in financial need?

I have told some people about it who were going through a difficult time recently.  I think it could be a helpful thing.

Do you and Gary have hobbies and outside interests that that you enjoy doing?

We do like to go to Bass Lake a lot. We have a boat and truthfully last year with COVID trapping everybody in their houses, I think having a boat saved us because you can go out on your boat and socially distance. So mostly we just float in the water, hang out with friends, have picnics, stuff like that.

Do you often see your boys and their families?

We are truly fortunate in that our sons live fairly close.  We visit often with them. We also visit with extended family around the U.S.  We have several family members in California.  I have many family members in Hawaii.  Most of Gary’s family lives on the East Coast.  Oh yeah, Fourth of July is a big thing. We have a niece from Ventura… she spoils me, she owns a restaurant, and she cooks. Some of my nephews and their wives come up.  We end up with about 12 people in our house. My boys and their wives come over. Another family brings up their motor home and we all just have a wonderful time. Of course, all of that didn’t happen last year with the COVID pandemic, hopefully this year.

Final comment

One final comment that I want to make is a shout out to the employees of YLOA and YSPUC.  Thank you all for your friendliness, professionalism, and hard work.  Our community is so blessed.

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES

Mark Zoeller, YLOA treasurer

Todd Benzie, YLOA Director

Ken Sartain, YLOA Director

Jonathan Penrose, YLOA-YSPUC General Manager

Sandy Eigenman, YLOA president 2020-21

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