May 2016 Volunteers of the Month
Bruce and Allison Berberick
The best part of being a Potomac Appalachian Trail Club member is volunteering. A multitude of members, as well as non-members, have given their time working on myriad projects, and each one is no less important to the club than others.
There are, however, individuals who have achieved the volunteer level of greatness only known by those closest to the pulse of the club - paid staff, club officers, district managers and regional supervisors. I’ve been fortunate enough to know a lot of the folks who fall into this category. It is my privilege to recognize Bruce and Allison Berberick as Volunteers of the Month.
The Berbericks have offered much to the club since Bruce joined in 1995, beginning with stepping up to the plate when then-club president Walt Smith sent out a call for an architect to help with the headquarters redesign in 1999.
The task wasn’t easy. Dealing with a building constructed in the 1950s to house small offices used by a faction of courtroom reporters on both the upper and lower levels (the proverbial sow’s ear), to the lovely open public area and conference room and custom offices on the upper level that house our staff (the silk purse…maybe).
I was there - it wasn’t easy to conduct the business of the club, coordinate where our volunteer staff could effectively work the sales, information, and the all important cabin reservations desks. If you’ve been to our headquarters building, you know the reception area at the top of the stairs and around the corner opens to a rather good size room. Just imagine all three desks together in that space for, roughly, six months or more.
Bruce made the transition from old to new very doable and it’s worked well for us as it is designed today. His work with the club didn’t end with the final punch list at headquarters, though. Something about the club was appealing enough for him to continue volunteering for PATC until 2001, when something special occurred.
As happens sometimes within the club family, two individual members find each other to form a more perfect union. And, as Allison and Bruce took their marriage vows, a regional cabin supervisor saw the opportunity to snag the happy couple before they landed from the bliss of matrimony.
Thomas Jorgensen and Cabin Maintenance Chairman Mel Merritt needed someone to help them with the next Shenandoah Valley cabin project. Meadows Cabin kitchen needed improving with an addition added. Although Mel worked up the plans, Bruce provided his talents as a skilled trim carpenter to trim out the new kitchen addition.
I’m sure, to the surprise of Allison, the happy couple spent their honeymoon working on the kitchen redo and retired in the evening to the “honeymoon suite” of their small tent next to the cabin. I’m sure it was a memorable experience for all.
In 2008, Butternut Maintenance Hut was nowhere near completion when the need for a change in project manager was evident. Bruce took that over too, and he and Allison were once more working on getting a cabin project completed. The hut was finished and open for service to both trail and cabin overseers in the fall of 2010.
After a relocating to Texas in 2012 for a few short years, a prompt return to Virginia proved to us that Bruce and Allison couldn’t get enough of PATC cabin projects. So they joined the crew, again led by Thomas Jorgensen, to design and give help with the construction and finishing work of the new deck on the Schairer Trail Center in the southern region of the south district just outside Shenandoah National Park boundary.
If that wasn’t enough, here’s a quick list of some other projects they’ve had a hand in: measured and drew up 22 cabin floor plans for inclusion in the next PATC cabins book; worked on the new treehouse (yes, treehouse) design for the Finks Hollow property; became overseers of the Rosser-Lamb Farmhouse. I have to interject at this point the fact that Allison worked on all of these projects as well as coordinating an arrangement between her employer, REI, and PATC to conscript her co-workers' help with Rosser-Lamb’s upkeep under REI’s Employee Community Service Program.
Whew! After all that, Bruce and Allison are still PATC members. And to top it off with one more amazing fact, up until they moved to Richmond, Va., last year, they worked on their projects faithfully after driving six hours each way from their home in Charlotte, N.C., to a work site. This shows what lengths our volunteers will go to to carry out their responsibilities and the type of devotion befitting the recognition of Bruce and Allison Berberick as PATC Volunteers of the Month.