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2014 02.27

Hearts of Service

“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”  Colonel James Doolittle, WWII commander of Doolittle’s Raiders

You’ll get no argument from us.

From the very beginning the 3 Mile Project was designed to be dependent upon a committed and consistent volunteer staff.  We knew that if we were going to keep admission affordable for the majority of young people, we’d never be able to pay all of the staff we’d need in our facility to ensure the kind of safe environment that is so vitally important to what we do here.  Frankly, this staffing model is one of the things that most intrigues those from other communities who visit us as part of their effort to duplicate the 3 Mile Project in their own cities and towns.

We are blessed to have a large and diverse group of people who are passionate about investing in the lives of young people.  From fourteen year old Zach to seventy-five year old Vern; from the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team to the Kuyper College Merge Experience; from our dedicated and enthusiastic high school volunteers to the moms and dads who serve – we have the privilege of working alongside an extraordinary group of people who give of themselves to the tune of more than five thousand hours annually.

We can all do the math.  Five thousand hours times whatever hourly rate you’d like to use plus benefits equals a significantly higher admission fee.  But, more importantly, five thousand hours means a similarly impressive number of friendly smiles, high fives, listening ears, and words of encouragement.  We rarely find out how such small kindnesses make big differences, but we know they do – mostly because of the times in our own lives when just such an act has made a profound impact on us.

Columnist Erma Bombeck once said that, “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.”  We get to see this played out, week after week, right in front of our eyes.  We are humbled by and thankful for the hearts of those who serve here.  This place doesn’t work without them.

– Stan, Executive Director