Latest Updates


Home > Latest Updates > 2015 Articles >

I had to laugh about the irony.

As I contemplated writing about our four month ice storm clean-up here at camp Hope, the phrase in a childhood song kept coming to mind. "Volunteers! Volunteers! Volunteers!" I had to get a little help to track down the song's name,"The Captain Calls For You."

Do you remember it? As an ex-fish boat "captain", I thought it ironic that I was calling for volunteers, volunteers, volunteers, week after week.

If you never made it to the Camp, this past January or February, you may never realize just how much damage and mess the storm inflicted. Somehow, pictures just did not capture depth and breadth of it all. To drive around the Camp and see… it was quite overwhelming. A number of people told me that tears came to their eyes when they arrived and saw everything firsthand.

Just how we would accomplish the ensuing clean-up we were not sure, but it was clearly evident that it would be a ton of work, and there was absolutely no way the Camp Hope staff could do it all.

While we were still clearing roads, wrestling with a power supply, staying warm and assessing the damage, help started to arrive. Danny Castiglia was the first volunteer to show up, then Brent Willinger, and then Kevin Dykstra. They were the first volunteers on the first days. It encouraged us.

I posted some pictures and a video clip on the Camp Hope face book page.

As a result, Global TV came and did a story on the damage at the Camp, and the result of the attention from those two medias, that first Sunday, about 25 people showed up to help. This jump-started the clean-up marathon that would last FOUR months. We had not made calls. We had not announced a work bee, but volunteers came. It was very encouraging.

Within the REACH initiative acronym, the A for Alignment falls right in the middle, right where we felt Camp Hope is, with helpers coming from all directions. From January to May, we witnessed this Alignment first hand, in a heartwarming parade of members, friends, old and young, from many churches, in many areas, all coming to the Camp to work together, volunteering.

We tried to keep a record of our volunteers (and how many meals we served). From this we calculated that it took about 800 days or 6400 hours of donated labor to clean the Camp. This is in addition to the work our staff did during those months too.

So in total it took over 1,000 days to clean. Now if you multiply those 6,400 volunteer hours by $20, you get $128,000 (give or take) that we saved thanks to these helpers.

This was huge as there was no budget to cover this unanticipated emergency. This was super encouraging.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to churches who organized and sent groups; to those who loaned us equipment; to those who prayed for us; to those that sent a donation; to those who came, giving us a day, and to those who came time and again, all at their own expense and to my Camp Hope staff going above and beyond the call of duty, putting in long hours, long days and long weeks.

Lastly, faithful Gerd Pifer, coming week after week, rain or shine, a few years shy of 80, arriving early and staying until 4:00 pm, as tired as she would get. When asked why she was such a tenacious helper, she replied, "This is God's place and I am doing this for Him".

"Volunteers! Volunteers! Volunteers!"