Our volunteers here at EnterTRAINment Junction are PRICELESS!! Before we opened we had around 130 volunteers that helped get the train display up and running. Still to this day we have about 30 active volunteers that come in every single week to help maintain and add to our displays. Some of the volunteers come from the Greater Cincinnati Garden Railway Society, others are from the Miami Valley Garden Railway Society, and still others come to help out the clubs.
We are excited to be starting a new series that will continue to provide updates on the volunteers and the projects they are working on so stay tuned for more in the future! Continue reading below for an overview of what it's like to volunteer at the Junction and get to know some of our volunteers!
While there is no typical day for a volunteer, there are always two major priorities. First priority is to fix any problems in the layout. Second priority is to work on whatever projects they have been assigned. Each volunteer belongs to a different group and they all have different jobs as listed below:
-The Tree Ladies (also known as the Scenic Details Group) meet on Mondays to create figurines as well as trees for the displays. They have made thousands of trees for the layout!
-The Modeling Group constructs buildings, weathers and details, as well as installs them in the layout.
-The Expediters do a lot of cleaning, repairs, and maintenance in the layout.
-The “All Trades” Work Crew spend time working on the outdoor train rides, repairing and replacing track on the layout, as well as the Christmas display set up and tear down.
-The Lighting crew does, you guessed it, lighting! Not only do they repair and replace lighting, they have added LED lighting to some of the completed models.
-The Electronics Group maintains the animated items in the layout as well as address any issues relating to electronics.
-The Layout Operations Troubleshooting group assists with the changeover to PLC programming as well as determine and address problems in layout operation.
-The MVGRS volunteers recently designed, built, and installed many interiors and lighting for some of the buildings throughout the display and added some fun details as well.
-There are also a few volunteers which come in other than the typical Monday/Wednesday to offer additional assistance to guests to make the experience more enjoyable.
Many of our volunteers have been with us since before our opening in 2008… some go as far back as 2006! A lot of them like to volunteer not only because they like trains, but because it’s fun, it’s a creative outlet, and they enjoy making things for other people to enjoy. Pete V. had worked for the railroad for 33 years and now that he's retired he gets to play with the trains at the Junction! In fact, most of our volunteers are retired so volunteering has given them something to do with their time as well as gain many new friends which have become more like family. Sharon W. said volunteering at EnterTRAINment makes her feel excited, appreciated and useful. Gordon H. said it also gives you “a sense of pride when you get a compliment on something you have made.”
One of our most celebrated volunteers is a man by the name of Steve C. He himself has put in close to 8,000 volunteer hours since starting here in 2007. It's important, he says, for retired people to do stuff. It's a chance to talk to people, learn new things, and have a hobby. Steve did all of the original programming for our display and is currently working, along with Brian, on upgrading the old system to the new PLC system. More information on the upgrades can be found here: PLC upgrades
One of the neat things about our volunteers is how they add their own personal touches to the displays. Charlotte H. tells about her first scratch built structure- the Black Star Coal Mine in the middle period. She scaled down some photographs of her and her husband and placed them inside the building. (Look for it next time you're here!) Tom B. has written the articles for the Big Train Project blog which include many updates and tell of details like that have been added to the display. He says he enjoys seeing trains run in a realistic environment and also enjoys the creative challenges of modeling.
When asked what advice they had to offer, they gave some great answers. Trial and error is a huge part of any hobby. You should be able to learn from your mistakes and it also helps to find a friend/mentor who is good at the craft. (Gordon H.) Going to train shows to see different displays and get ideas is a fantastic way to build improvement in your own layout. (Mary K.)
Here at EnterTRAINment Junction we are so appreciative of the countless hours, detailed craftsmanship, and the wonderful volunteers that have made it all possible. We could not function without them! Next time you come to EnterTRAINment, be on the lookout for the people in the black Junction logo'd shirts and be sure to tell them THANK YOU! :)