May is Volunteer Month at Shadowcliff. It’s the time of the year that we open up the lodge for the season, start cleaning and performing the maintenance that our facility requires to open by Memorial Day. Fighting off the ravages of time and climate takes talent and effort and hundreds of people, donating thousands of hours. We exist on the backs and in the hands of volunteers, and we thought we’d introduce you to a just couple of those who know a little something about serving at Shadowcliff.
Jan has been volunteering at Shadowcliff for 29 years, including serving ten years on the Board. “Those were the easy years,” she says. “We’d meet with Patt and Warren (Rempel.) She’d make us dinner and they would tell us what they were going to do next year. We’d say that sounds fine and then we go home.”
Jan and Patt worked at the Veterans Administration, as nurses. She asked Patt what she was doing for the Memorial Day weekend and found out she was headed to Shadowcliff, to open up for the season. “The first time I went up to volunteer I didn’t know if I wanted to work, I just didn’t have anything better to do. But everybody else was working so hard I just pitched in,” Jan said.
The first day, she met someone who would become her long time, special friend, and would spend their next 21 years together. “You’re going to meet a lot of new friends – people that you really become close to,” she recalled. “What a privilege to work in that setting. And, it’s free. I’d do the cleaning and Owen did plumbing. The meals were wonderful and it’s close enough to Grand Lake where you can go down and walk around at night and enjoy ice cream.”
“But, it’s not for people who are unwilling to walk down the hall to the bathroom, clear the table or even do the dishes when it’s their turn,” Jan warned. “It’s such a special place. A place where you can feel welcome and appreciated. A very special place of peace.”
Protips from Jan
Institutional memory is important to an organization like Shadowcliff so Jan shared some of her observations:
- Bunk beds are heavy. Get some help moving them out so they can be cleaned behind – and, under.
- Open the refrigerators during the offseason so they can air out.
- Light fixtures become buggy.
- The third floor of Cliffside is a long way from the fourth floor of Rempel. Plan your trips accordingly.
- And maybe most importantly, “I never clean like this at home.”
Randy was about 7 years old the first time his dad took him up to Shadowcliff. His dad was friends with Warren, from their days at Kansas State University.
He believes he has probably only missed one or two years over the last 35.
An architect by trade, Randy believes that he’s learned some important “hands on stuff” by doing it at Shadowcliff. “Some things now make more sense when I apply them elsewhere,” Randy says.
He has been on the Board, including service as President for a number of years. “It’s a beautiful place and I’ve got a lot of history there. It’s a spiritual place in a very individually-directed way. A place that just feeds you.”
He keeps coming back for the good, strong friendships that have been developed over the years. “I enjoy seeing the same people year after year and if they miss a year, and you don’t get to see them, it’s a disappointing year,” Randy shared.
Randy, and his wife Mary Helen, started bringing their kids to Shadowcliff at a young age. “Our kids went up with us and it has become a special place to them as well. We’re a third generation, volunteer family.”
A Long List of Accomplishments
He has contributed architectural services and finds it hard to pick a particular project that he is most proud of. Modestly he says, “After 35 years there so many projects they just tend to run together.” He does point to the stone work on the chapel as a good memory for him, as more than 15 people took turns carrying rock and putting mortar up. He also fondly remembers putting together the archway that welcomes visitors to Shadowcliff.
“It takes a lot to maintain this kind of facility,” Randy advises. “You have to stay after it. The three to four month season puts you on a time line that makes it hard to put off some of these projects. It’s ‘we gotta have this done this year before we close up’ or more often, ‘we gotta have this done before the guests get here.’”
“It’s a mini vacation for us and our family,” Randy shared.
More than that, volunteering is a wonderful contribution to the Shadowcliff family.
Come Join Us!
There are many ways to give back to an organization whether you swing a hammer, push a vacuum cleaner or type on a keyboard. All are welcome and it never seems like work when you can share the load with friends, take in the view and feel the pride of a job well done.
Want to come out in May? Email us!
To learn more about Volunteering in May, check out our post “Saluting Our Shadowcliff Volunteers Past, Present & Future”
Jay Liebenguth is a business journalist focused on gaining insights from talking with business leaders and sharing their stories with his audience. He produces and hosts two radio shows each week to introduce you to some of the rising stars in the business community and to expose you to new and proven concepts from people who have “been there, done that.” His format provides visibility, credibility, and direct “why to buy” publicity for his guests. He interviews over 250 people per year, most in a live, unedited setting.
Jay has been an active member of Shadowcliff’s marketing committee since 2012.