Vicki and Rich Copeland embody the generous spirit of CSX Service Days. While not CSX employees (Rich works for the Virginia-based Cranemasters, Inc.), the husband-wife team first participated in a CSX Service Day in their hometown. Inspired by the way CSX invests in its communities, they began traveling the country to support the call to service. Recently, the pair completed their 50th Service Day in a row in Willard, OH. CSX is honored to have them as an integral part of the Service Day team. Below, the Copelands reflect on their experiences.
How did you first get involved with CSX Service Days?
An employee of CSX suggested that Cranemasters, Inc send volunteers, and since it was near our home, we agreed to represent the company. Since then, we’ve only missed a service day when more than one was scheduled on a given day. Even then, we considered catching a flight out of Jacksonville after an event, to work at a different event in an earlier time zone—we just couldn’t get a timely flight. Two service events in one day—now that would have been great!
What made you decide to commit to your Service Day streak (50 strong!)?
We had a list of the locations of every event we had attended, and it occurred to us that it was a pretty big number, so just around the 35th event, we started the countdown to 50. We had fun with that.
Could you name some of the places you’ve visited while traveling to CSX Service Days?
We did visit the Highline in NYC, which we understand was donated by CSX. Honestly, because of time constraints, we usually arrive near a location the night before and often leave to return to Richmond, VA after the service day has ended, so we don’t really “visit” a whole lot.
Some of the towns are pretty remote. How do you decide on where to stay and eat during your travel?
That’s always an issue. The local volunteers are great about sharing information about where to get local food. As far as places to stay, let’s just say one night sleeping in the truck was enough!
Have you ever come close to missing a Service Day?
Like we mentioned, only when there were two in one day!
If you had to pick a favorite Service Day, which one would you choose? Why?
Key Biscayne, FL was one of our favorites. The weather was horrid, and digging through coral to plant trees was really tough. But the students at the school were so inspirational. The school was part of an old lighthouse and the kids were so proud to give us a tour.
What has been the most challenging thing about completing the Service Days?
The long hours of traveling.
Have you acquired any new skills thanks to your work at all those Service Days?
We now understand that we CANNOT paint murals. Otherwise, we have learned that there is so much more to planting a tree than plopping a tree in the hole and kicking dirt over it.(Our own yard is not a candidate for yard of the month).
Have you ever visited any of the previous Service Day locations to see how things look or have changed?
Not yet. Upon retirement, we are planning a road trip from Worchester, MA to Key Biscayne, FL to visit the service day sites.
What does the future hold for the Copelands and CSX Service Days? Will the streak continue?
Oh, they’re not going to get rid of us that easily. We will definitely finish the year.
If you could host the next Service Day, where would you host it? Why?
How about our sad, neglected yard? Seriously, it would be great to go to St. Louis/Ferguson. Those communities might appreciate some goodwill and an act of kindness.
CSX thanks the Copelands for their commitment to bettering our communities beyond our rails.