Volunteers building day care center for Grand Junction church
An international group of construction volunteers is helping the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 730 Mesa Ave. add a care center to its kindergarten through 12th grade school.
“The director of Little Mavericks (day care at Mesa State College) said they had a waiting list of 100 (last year), and the day care over here (at Bookcliff Baptist) had a waiting list of 100,” said Randy Mills, pastor at Seventh-day Adventist. “We figured we can help a little bit with a piece of the pie. There’s another lady in town had 20-something (children in day care) and is needing to shut down and referring people to us here. It seems like the right time and right place.”
Mills said he was talking with Grand Junction church member Carroll Rushold and came up with an answer, Maranatha Volunteers International, to construct the 4,500-square-foot Little Lambs Learning Center, 880 Mesa Ave.. It will serve up to 75 children, from infants to pre-kindergarten.
“We’re saying, ‘OK, we can do this, but day care is a risky business because there is not a lot of profit margin,’ ” Mills said. “After talking to Carroll, we found out there’s a possibility of Maranatha coming in.”
Rushold has served on the Maranatha board for close to 18 years.
Maranatha is a private, nonprofit, religious organization that builds homes, schools and churches in 70 countries. It has been around for 40 years, has more than 30,000 volunteers and supporters, and is funded completely by member donations, Rushold said.
“We have people come that don’t know anything about Maranatha. They just find the website and sign up and say, ‘I want to go to India,’ ” Rushold said. “We warn them, ‘Once you start a project, you’ll be hooked.’ “
Maranatha has worked on 283 projects between January 1 and March 15 in eight countries this year. By the end of the year, Maranatha will be involved in more than 1,000 projects in 24 countries, including 180 homes in Haiti, Rushold said. Maranatha doesn’t retain ownership of any of the buildings it constructs.
Anyone can volunteer to help Maranatha with its projects regardless of religious belief. The volunteers pay all their expenses. Maranatha provides housing and food for its volunteers in the United States, but the volunteers pay for their own transportation, housing and food overseas, Rushold said. A lot of the members use their vacations to work on a project.
“We gain a real blessing from it, but wherever we go, the people think of us as all these millionaires from the United States and must love us and God enough to come and help us,” Rushold said.
“I can testify to that,” Mills said. “All the members of the church I’ve had through the years that have been Maranatha volunteers, their lives have been changed forever. These are skilled people. They know what they are doing.”
The day care center construction is being led by Gary Ross, a retired contractor.
Ross, a member of the Fruita Seventh-day Adventist Church, has not worked on a Maranatha project before, but he has volunteered on other church projects.
“It’s good for the people that are doing it and the people that are receiving,” Ross said. “Since I’ve volunteered some, I know how it makes me feel. When we first moved here from Wyoming, my wife and I got involved with the Olathe Spanish Church. We spent a year helping them getting a building designed and permitted and helping them build it. It’s a good feeling.”
The crew of 20-plus volunteers from across the country and Canada started construction on the day care center earlier this week and expect to be completed within two weeks.
The church is borrowing money to furnish the center and complete the interior.
“In one year, we raised $200,000 (for the day care center),” Mills said. “The school is a huge expense. We pay out the nose for the school, but we believe our kids are number one, and they should get the best and safest education.
“We’ve got the loan ready, but we haven’t had to borrow a dime yet because of the generosity of our church members and Maranatha coming in and helping us.”