Do you want to dance? Dan and Brenda Miller do, and have 0) earned six titles out on the floor
Dan and Brenda Miller have all the right moves.
On the dance floor, that is, where the Waltzing Millers have earned six amateur titles in the last year.
"Our house sits lopsided with all the trophies we've won over the years," Ms. Miller, 49, says with a chuckle.
The Jarrettsville couple's interest grew out of feeling awkward .. dancing together. "My wife didn't feel I danced very well. I didn't lead her properly," says Mr. Miller, 49, an electrical engineering // manager.
Nearly 20 years ago, they signed up for their first lessons at a recreation council. From there, they graduated to private lessons, long practice sessions and competitions.
Their introduction to the world of competitive ballroom dancing wasn't entirely smooth, though. During their first try, they were hopelessly out of sync with each other -- and the music. They've suffered mishaps as well, from falling to losing shoes to being elbowed in the cheek.
But there have been plenty of thrills traveling to New Jersey, Michigan or Washington for amateur championships. "All the hard work is worth it then," says Ms. Miller, a corporate secretary.
Her husband mentions one other benefit: "I can dance with anybody now, and relax." Ronald Brownley finds it ironic that the Baltimore firehouse where he once worked has become a homeless shelter.
The transformation mirrors his own life: The former firefighter is now heading up the year-old homeless unit for the Baltimore Department of Social Services.
"Every day we're seeing new faces we haven't seen before," he says. "They're not drunks or criminals. They're good people who have fallen on hard times."
Mr. Brownley has come up with a few solutions. Several months ago, he began an office library for homeless children and a support/counseling group for their parents. In the next few weeks, he's planning to start an outreach program for homeless people unable -- or unwilling -- to visit the office.
He grew up in West Baltimore, where he dreamed of fighting fires. But after witnessing five years' worth of tragedy, he grew despondent. "When you see a family's life possessions in a blackened heap, and the despair and the sadness on their faces, a piece of you is left behind," says the 47-year-old Baltimore County father of two.
Despite now working with some of the city's neediest, he manages to stay upbeat.
"We can't cure all the ills of the world," he says. "But at leasonce a day we're able to actually help someone."