JONESBORO, Ark. – On any given day, you can find Dave Steinquist cutting grass, installing a light fixture, hanging shelves, or building a deck. But it’s not his own home he’s seen caring for — he dedicates his days to upkeeping the facilities of two non-profit organizations in Jonesboro. That’s why he will soon be honored with an Arkansas Community Service Award.
Twenty years ago, his Chicago employer gave him an early retirement offer that he couldn’t refuse, but sitting around the house wasn’t an option. So he and his wife, Jan, moved to Arkansas where Dave began a second career as a national park ranger. After a number of years, they decided it was time to move to a more populated area with more opportunities to get involved in the community, particularly opportunities to volunteer.
It didn’t take long for Dave to make a connection with the Northeast Arkansas Family Crisis Center, a home where women and children can escape violent situations. And it didn’t take long for the staff to realize he was just who they needed. The residence has a constant turnaround, which means wear and tear on the aging facility, and the staff didn’t have the time or the know how to fix every issue that arose, and paying for repairs adds up.
Dave began spending his free time taking care of odd jobs, which freed up staff members to concentrate on their clients, and saved the center thousands of dollars in maintenance bills.
“I’m not a plumber or a carpenter or anything but if it’s something within my skill set and they have the proper video on Youtube that shows me how to do it, I’m able to try and help when I can,” he said.
According to the center’s Executive Director Vicki Crego, he almost always can.
“We don’t have a tremendous amount of male volunteers that are willing to put in the kind of time every week that Dave does,” she said. “I have been working in the non profit arena for over 20 years, (and) I don’t believe i have ever seen anyone as dedicated — particularly a male — as Dave Steinquist.”
The Family Crisis Center is sustained by the profits of the Second Home Shoppe, a large thrift store that four years ago Dave played a big role in helping to open, and a place he continues to help maintain. The shop is also used to meet the needs of the crisis center’s clients — women and children who are trying to get a fresh start.
Steinquist divides his volunteer time between the Family Crisis Center and the Hispanic Community Services Center in Jonesboro. Executive Director Gina Gomez called his efforts to serve the vulnerable Hispanic women and children population impressive.
“(It) demonstrates that he is willing to offer even his body and his physical strength in the pursuit of a more vibrant, peaceful and equitable Jonesboro community,” Gomez wrote in her nomination for Steinquist’s Community Service Award. “He has a special heart for the Hispanic community, and we love that.”
Dave has a simple explanation for the tasks that take his time: “I know the places i volunteer they wouldn’t get done or they’d have to pay somebody to do it.”
In the large volume of work Dave does, even the most menial task takes on a bigger meaning. “They have enough stress in their lives, (so) I just try to make it a nice place so the time that they’re here that the facilities don’t have to be a stressful part of their life.”
Steinquist’s satisfaction comes from doing a job well, doing it with compassion, and doing it to make a difference.