As the United Way of Central Minnesota prepared for an event to celebrate their 50th anniversary an idea arose of building a time capsule box to be opened in 50 years, in 2068. This time capsule would hold cherished items from local partnering agencies and businesses to represent those who were connected to and supported the United Way of Central Minnesota in 2018. But who was going to make this time capsule? How was this going to be achieved? So many questions of how to make this idea “come to life” were pondered.
Ultimately, the United Way of Central Minnesota reached out to the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (Lisa J. Braun, Director) inquiring if there were any RSVP volunteers who are skilled in woodworking and may be able to craft a time capsule. RSVP is an organization which engages men and women, age 55 or better, in meaningful volunteer service which strengthens the well-being of both self and community. The vision of RSVP is to be a bridge between those who need and those who give.
When the United Way of Central Minnesota contacted RSVP Program Coordinator, Jennifer Wucherer, she had just the volunteer in mind! Jennifer approached RSVP volunteer, Steve Flynn, to inquire if he would be interested in building this time capsule for the United Way. Jennifer thought of Steve as he is a former Industrial Arts teacher and has great skill in woodworking. Jennifer asked Steve if he would be willing to volunteer his time and talents to create the time capsule. Steve said “a project of this size is fun for me to do in my shop at home. They [the United Way of Central Minnesota] said I could use any materials I wanted and they would reimburse me. But, I decided if I am going to volunteer to do this project, I do not want to get paid and I wanted to use nice materials so the project was done right.” Steve ultimately spent approximately 15 hours creating the time capsule and generously donated the materials to the project.
Steve explained that the time capsule had to last for 50 years so he went to the lumber store and gathered some long-lasting materials. The 6 sides of the time capsule are made from solid oak and the trim is made from birch. Steve stained the oak a darker walnut color and left the birch color as is. The final product was stunning and Steve’s handy-work is greatly appreciated by the United Way of Central Minnesota. Mary Krippner, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the United Way of Central Minnesota, said “Steve did an amazing job on our time capsule for our annual Celebration! We absolutely love it!!”
When speaking about the project Steve stated “I did put my name on the bottom of the box. It is nice to have my work be a legacy for 50 years down the road and it is nice to give back. This community has been fantastic to myself and my family and here is my chance to give back.”
Steve went on to tell me of his connection and involvement with the United Way of Central Minnesota which stemmed back to many years ago. Steve’s previous employer had signed up their employees for the United Way of Central Minnesota’s annual “Day of Caring” and they were dispatched to volunteer at a home installing a wheel chair ramp for a family who had a child with a disability. Steve mentioned that around 30 volunteers show up on Day of caring to help this family, which was too many volunteers to engage in building one ramp. So, Steve helped the other volunteers find other tasks needing to be completed and he went to work on the ramp. Steve stated that the volunteers, who were there to build a ramp, ended up helping the family by also trimming shrubs, mowing the lawn, scrubbing the siding of the house and more! The family was so grateful for the work of the volunteers and Steve, too, felt it was very rewarding. As he finished building and installing the ramp, Steve noticed the ramp should really be painted, which was something he could do not pre-installation of the ramp. So, Steve took it upon himself to come back and paint the ramp on a different day. When Steve returned to paint the ramp, he brought his then 14-year-old daughter back to the home with him. Steve said it felt good to give back to the community in this way as well as to teach his daughter about giving back, as well. “It was a really neat experience. Like most volunteer opportunities, we [Steve and his daughter] gained more than we gave. It was a learning experience for my daughter, too.”
Both RSVP and the United Way of Central Minnesota support and engage many volunteers throughout the Greater St. Cloud Area. If you are ages 55 or better and you are interested in making a difference in your community please call the RSVP office at (320)255-7295 or visit our website at www.ci.stcloud.mn.us/RSVP to explore the many volunteer opportunities which await you! If you are interested in getting involved and are under age 55, please visit the United Way of Central Minnesota website at www.unitedwayhelps.org to learn more about volunteering!