Volunteers – CHIC Couldn’t Run Well without Them

Post a Comment » Written on July 17th, 2009     
Filed under: News
KNOXVILLE, TN (July 17, 2009) – Scott Peterson stood in front of the CHIC2009 Main Stage, earplugs firmly in place, and watching with a smile as more than 5,000 students began to fill the Thompson-Boling Arena.

This is the fourth consecutive CHIC for which he has worked security during the Evangelical Covenant Church’s triennial event. “It’s the best job you can have,” said Peterson, who attends First Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “It’s intense, and it’s so much fun.”

CHIC is dependent upon the work of its volunteers, who still pay the registration fee for the privilege. Like Scott, many individuals – as well as entire families – return year after year.

VolunteersScott’s wife, Terry, has worked every CHIC since 1994 doing a variety of jobs. Their daughter, Samantha, is working her third CHIC, serving this year as a utility volunteer. Their son, Jeff, is working his first CHIC and doing security alongside his father (see accompanying photo).

When asked why the family volunteers, Scott replied, “Did you see last night? Multiple hundreds of kids coming forward. That’s why we do it.”

Oftentimes the volunteers don’t know where they will serve until they arrive. Scott Schultz, who attends Wakefield Covenant Church in Wakefield, Nebraska, drove the church’s youth group to CHIC in 2000, the first year he volunteered.

When Schultz arrived, he learned he would be driving one of the shuttle vans. “After driving 1,000 miles to get here, I drove 1,000 miles going around in circles,” Schultz mused.

His eldest daughter attended CHIC in 2000, but Schultz volunteered in 2003, even though he had no children attending. That year he worked as a “snake boy.” His job was trailing one of the cameramen filming the Main Stage events and making sure the camera cord stayed out of the way.

Schultz didn’t attend CHIC in 2006, but is back driving the shuttle again this year. His son is here and Schultz already is planning to volunteer in 2012, when his youngest daughter will attend.

Gretchen Johnsrud is working her fourth CHIC. She first volunteered in 1997 in Colorado and has worked the three events in 2003-2009. This year, she is overseeing the information booth team.

“It’s fun to be part of something so big and that has so much impact on the kids’ lives,” she said.

Volunteering also is a great way to reconnect with friends from around the country, said Johnsrud, who’s husband, Corey, is pastor of Zion Covenant Church in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.

Bob White has led the security team since 1997. White is a member of Paradise Valley Community Covenant Church in Phoenix and a retired officer with the city’s Police Department.

White oversees 30 to 35 volunteers and coordinates coverage with the Knoxville Police Department and the university’s staff. Even though White rarely gets to meet his volunteers until they arrive on campus, “I’ve had nothing but excellent help every time,” he said.

Some of them also return to work multiple years, and White adds, “We want to be a positive light to the kids. We don’t just want to be the people who make sure the kids don’t break the rules.”

Even on the extremely rare occasion when a student must be sent home – only one or two a year – the team tries to use the experience as a positive motivator. White recalls one student who was dispatched home. That student was encouraged, through interaction with the staff, to reconsider his responsibility in what happened. “He came back the next time as a counselor,” White said.

That is why he volunteers.

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