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‘It is still an active job site’

Krystle Wagner • Oct 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM

More than 2,000 volunteers came together last week to help construct the new Imagination Station at Grand Haven’s Mulligan’s Hollow, but it’s not ready for showtime.

While the structure itself is complete, the public is advised to remain off the site because the work continues. The rubberized poured-in-place foundation will be installed in the coming days, and it will need time to cure before it’s officially ready for families to enjoy.

“It is still an active job site,” said Reimagine Project co-chairman Chris Streng.

A ribbon-cutting event is being planned, but there isn’t a firm date yet.

Last fall, more than 100 local students worked to design a play space that would be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. The fundraising goal of $500,000 to make the project possible was raised this year by donations and grants.

Throughout last week’s “Build Week,” individuals and some businesses had groups of volunteers including Shape Corp., Herman Miller, JSJ Corp. and The Home Depot, Streng noted. The Reimagine Project committee also worked with the Greater Ottawa County United Way for volunteers.

Going into the weekend, the number of volunteers registered was light. Streng said Sunday started out as one of their lightest days in terms of people signed up, but ended up becoming one of the biggest days for volunteer turnout.

Volunteers behind the scenes and a core group also put in countless hours, said Amylyn Robbins, a member of the project’s public relations committee.

Captains oversaw groups of volunteers and helped carry out plans from Leathers & Associates. The captains dedicated at least one or two days to building, and some the entire week, Streng said. Those individuals often worked from about 7 a.m. until about 8:30 at night.

The captains include Don Anderson, Arden Balkema, Trevor Baykowski, Terry Blanchard, Bill Blynn, Matt Braginton, Russ Bolitho, Patrick Duell, Dave Eagin, Dave Jacot, Chris Jarvis, Earl Jorgensen, Erin Lyons, Mark Kleist, Gernot Runschke, Monica Twa, Jay VanDuren, Matt Vrablic and Chris Wilson.

Chad Lahey of Westwind Construction worked as the materials buyer and supported the project. Lahey’s dad was involved in the original project, Robbins said.

Derek Gajdos, co-chairman of the tools committee, ensured that the volunteers would have enough tools necessary for their work, Robbins said. From morning until night, Mary TenCate, a fundraising co-chairperson, was on site to ensure volunteers felt comfortable and welcome, Robbins said, and Ken Sharkey was also essential for the project.

Volunteers were fed and remained hydrated with the help of fellow volunteers and Kelly Larson. Robbins said more than $20,000 worth of food and water was donated throughout “Build Week.”

As everyone worked, they also kept safety in mind. Streng noted that there weren’t any reportable safety incidents, and he commends captains and volunteers for that.

Streng said the camaraderie reminded him of his time in the U.S. Navy because everyone worked together and persevered, whether it was 85 degrees or 40 and raining. He said people took vacation time from work to volunteer and work shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve been involved with,” Streng said.

Being part of the community build was a powerful experience, Streng said, and it served as a reminder that anything can be accomplished and anyone can contribute.

“I’m proud to be part of this community,” he said.

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