Chippewa Falls (WQOW)- Maybe you've head it said before: Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart.
Jerry Brost is a man who had some time on his hands after he retired he just needed to find his passion project. Enter the Heyde Center for the Arts.
"We just have so many amazing volunteers that work up here," says Debra Johnson the Executive Director of the Heyde Center for the Arts. "Every once in a while you kind of want to recognize someone who is doing a little bit above and beyond that. Jerry is one that I can rely on," adds Debra. "For example, in the worst part of winter when it is 20, 30 below zero the boilers went out I gave Jerry a call and he's down here to help."
The building that houses the arts center was not always the beauty it is today. The halls of the McDonnell Memorial High School were filled for 57 years. When a new school was opened in 1964 the building was abandoned.
"It was kind of offered to the city but the city didn't have the money," explains Debra. "And if they would have gotten it the plans were to tear it down and just level it off which would have been a shame."
The dream of restoring the building was stalled for two decades. Once the project got underway it took nothing short of an army. "The plaster was falling off the walls, the windows were broken, the roof leaked, the floors were all warped," recalls Jerry Brost, a longtime volunteer at the arts center. "It was like, it's a beautiful dream but it would be cheaper to tear the building down and start from scratch."
Through his involvement with the Chippewa Valley Cultural Association, Jerry took it upon himself to head up a very dedicated group, who call themselves the Monday Volunteers. "They are retired people," says Jerry. "Most of them are people who went to school here. Our oldest is 89. She is our painter. If we have to refinish any woodwork or touch up some walls she does it."
The building was re-opened as the arts center in 2000 and now hosts frequent performances and art exhibits. But the work is still not done. Jerry says the group meets frequently to tackle new projects and focus on upkeep. "I enjoy it. I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that I helped work on something here that allowed maybe a play to take place or something. It's a good thing to do, but it's also good for you and that's the thing to keep in mind."