By Jennifer Meshanko for The Island Connection
After an attempt at teaching middle school math, Larry Midla discovered other ways to help children and adults learn by volunteering with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach. “I grew up in Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh on a farm in a small coal mining town named Marianna,” says Larry. He lived in Marianna until he went to college at Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, now known as Case Western Reserve University. Midla obtained his degree in metallurgy and materials science. Starting in 1970, Midla worked for Caterpillar Inc. for seven years. Then, he worked for Cummins, a company that designs, produces and sells engines. The Cummins company brought Midla and his family to Charleston in 1994. In 2004, he started his own business, which he ran for ten years until his retirement in 2014.
Midla has been married to his wife and partner, Therese, for 45 years. “She has been an inspiration and the pillar of the family,” he says. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. While Midla was working and raising his daughters, he had limited time to volunteer. He and Therese volunteered at Junior Achievement with their church. Now that Midla has more time, he is able to volunteer with several local nonprofits and serves as a van driver for the Veterans Affairs clinic. After researching online for volunteer tutoring opportunities, Midla found the Yes, I Can! after school program at Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach. He is currently helping adult students in the English as a Second Language program.
Midla enjoys volunteering with the ESL program, because “they work hard, want to learn, and make it so much fun to work together!” Midla encourages others to get involved. “Volunteer now and see where it leads. Believe me, if you enjoy working with people who enjoy being with you, the immediate reward can mean more than any other activity!”