Jerry Eberhardt: 'I enjoy working with the teenagers'

Posted: Dec. 5, 2012 6:28 pm Updated: Dec. 19, 2012 11:15 pm

Jerry Eberhardt didn't do much volunteer work when he was younger. That all changed one day in 1977 when Eberhardt and his wife, Anita, were asked to take part in the Great River Teens Encounter Christ program.

Eberhardt was hooked. He's been a part of the program for the last 35 years, serving on the board most of that time.

"I enjoy working with the teenagers," he said. "It helps keep me young for one thing. It's kind of neat to watch them grow in faith by coming on a weekend. It's basically a Catholic weekend, but everyone is invited."

The Great River TEC program is held at Quincy University's North Campus Retreat Center. It features speakers, both young and old, who spread their message of faith.

"(The campers) just really get to meet some really close friends, and some of them stay friends for the rest of their lives," Eberhardt said.

The TEC program is a family affair for Eberhardt. All five of his children have taken part, while nine of his 12 grandchildren have taken in a TEC weekend.

Eberhardt also volunteers his time by going across the country every year to attend the weeklong Catholic Heart Work Camp. He also finds time to volunteer once a week at Blessing Hospital in Quincy.

Why Jerry volunteers, in his own words:

"Someone asked us to be on the team back in 1977, and we've been involved in it ever since in one capacity or another. I've been on the board most of that time. We hold six or seven weekends every year. Different adults will work the weekends. I try to help out in some way or another."

"I've found that kids are really searching and open to the weekends, both male and female. You have that tendency to think that girls are more involved in church, but it's not that way anymore. I think both boys and girls are involved with school and church. Some of the kids that were involved in 1977 are still involved as adults."

"We enjoyed it so much that we stayed involved. I'm on the board. We've held a couple of national TECs here, and everyone from the United States is invited. I was on the committee for both of those."

"I just get so much out of (volunteering). As far as the TEC program goes, I would do one every month if they'd let me, but they won't let me. I have to kind of pick and choose."

Jerry Eberhardt was interviewed by Staff Writer Don O'Brien and photographed by Photo Editor Phil Carlson.