Organizers of the Potato Creek State Park Restoration Project couldn’t have been more pleased with the Wednesday (May 11) event, in which about 400 volunteers from across the RV industry built benches, a bridge and a stage, repainted dozens of signs, resided and refurbished 10 bathroom facilities, cleared brush and debris and countless other tasks to rehabilitate the popular park located near New Liberty, Ind.
“It’s been an amazing day,” said Michilah Grimes, the Director of Corporate and Community Impact for Lippert and one of the chief organizers of the event. “To have more than 30 companies represented out here today through way of donations and volunteers … All the skill levels that the industry has to offer are really being showcased out here today.And to just to see the industry come together and do what we do best – which is to make a difference.”
Echoing those comments was Mike Gaeddert, a general manager at Coachmen RV who also helped organize the event.
“Today was pretty amazing to see the effort and just the willingness to jump in with both feet. And, from the start of this process, every person we engaged, it was ‘What can we do?’ And, ‘What more can I do?'” he said. “To be where we’re at today is just showcasing what the industry’s capable of and their commitment to both their work and the community.”
“Today would not have happened without the help of everyone involved,” Grimes pointed out. “And the companies jumping in and saying, ‘How can we help? What do you guys need? How many more people do you need out there for that?’ So, it’s been truly humbling.”
Grimes and Gaeddert are two members of the Emerging Leaders Coalition (ELC), a new standing committee within the RV Industry Association. Early in its formation ELC members decided it wanted the group’s mission to include philanthropic responsibility, and the Potato Creek event was the first of what will be many industry-wide park improvement initiative events across the nation.
For her part, Samantha Rocci, RV Industry Association Senior Manager with the Government Affairs team who also serves as an RVIA/ELC staff liaison, said the association, “could not be more excited to support the Emerging Leaders Coalition as launch our park improvement initiative.”
“Early on it was clear that this group wouldn’t be content to sit on the sidelines but wanted to take ownership of something and give back to the community that has given so much to us,” she said. “Today, we saw what this industry is capable of when we unify and work to be a force for good. For decades, the Association has worked to promote our industry unity and we are thrilled to support the ELC as these energized leaders take it to the next level.”
Gaeddert said the goal of the park improvement initiative is for it to “get legs of its own.” The group is hoping leaders will emerge to champion similar restoration events across the nation so the RV industry can improve and restore the parks and campgrounds that are, near and dear to someone.
“Whether it’s rebuilding, building a playground, building campsites, trail clearing, building boat launches – I mean, you name it. This industry can do it. And we’re really looking for some champions to go ahead and spearhead some of these projects. We want to do this nationwide, and the ELC will be there to support them in any way that we can,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to people getting involved,” Grimes added, “Like Mike said, we’re looking for people being champions of this initiative and using business as a force for good. It truly is a testament to where we are better together when it comes to the community. We can have more impact when we do things together.”
“And be able to give back to what’s given us so much, right? The outdoors, our local and state parks, the private campgrounds across this country,” Gaeddert shared.