“Secret Millionaire” surprises Gwen ’75 and Gary Miller ’76

Photo credit: Courtesy of Urban Faith Works

Gwen Birky Miller ’75 and her husband, Gary Miller ’76, got the surprise of their lives last year when a man who had introduced himself as a stock broker and documentary filmmaker later revealed that he was actually a “Secret Millionaire” from ABC’s television’s reality show and wanted to donate to the nonprofit program they help operate.

Urban Faith Works (UFW) offers after-school and summer programs for youth in the distressed city of Gary, Ind. UFW helps children with homework and teaches them life skills and how to set and achieve goals. It also offers Bible and life lessons.

For the Millers, UFW is a mission and a family affair: their son, Ben, founded and directs the program with his wife, Jacque, who is treasurer and serves on the board and works full time as a teacher. Gwen volunteers full time and is the board secretary. Gary is board president and a volunteer and works full time as a pharmacist. “We moved to Gary 12 years ago as an intentional move into this harsh community to live and work among the people here, specifically trying to keep kids off the streets,” Gwen said.

Into their lives last summer arrived James Malinchak, who claimed he was helping produce a documentary on grassroots groups. In reality, he is a motivational speaker and a millionaire. Following the “Secret Millionaire” format, Malinchak spent a week in poor Gary neighborhoods volunteering at nonprofits before revealing his identity. On the show, which was broadcast nationally on March 20, he was seen giving UFW a $10,000 check.

The Millers say it was a true blessing. “We certainly did not receive a million dollars but enough to help keep the doors open,” Gwen said. “Praise God for He is so good. His provision is simply amazing to us. On the “Secret Millionaire” website, Ben added, “We were able to use some of it (money) to procure one of the lots next to our property… Receiving $10,000 was more than we could have ever imagined.”

To learn more about Urban Faith Works and see the Miller’s “Secret Millionaire” segment, go to www.urbanfaithworks.com.

—By Richard R. Aguirre, with help from Sara Alvarez, and The Record

Categories: Alumni, Sociology & Social Work, The Bulletin