James Kurz has been a volunteer for more than 30 years. He has been there when his services were needed for many organizations and continues his work today.
Kurz’s most recent project is River of Life (R.O.L.), a project involving Lake St. Clair, a large lake on southeast Michigan’s shore, which has become gradually contaminated and periodically closed for use during the past several years. This is a particularly significant event given that the lake is a major water supply source to the communities of that area. The pollutants in Lake St. Clair are a result of run-off from the connecting Clinton River. The R.O.L. project is aimed at cleaning up the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair in southeast Michigan.
In October 1997, Kurz answered a request from the Archdiocese of Detroit to begin cleaning up the rivers. Since that time, he has worked feverishly for 20 months to organize the core group for the R.O.L. He has done all of his work on a voluntary basis and receives no salary or stipend for his efforts.
Kurz has been instrumental in several additional efforts, including mobilizing approximately 20 people to form an organization that serves as the nucleus of the R.O.L. project. He achieved the position of President of the R.O.L. Executive Committee and allied the Clinton River Watershed Council, leading 78 area churches to supply 35 percent of the manpower to the Council’s Clinton River clean-up. Kurz also wrote and won grants to the Archdiocese and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, totaling $7,500.
Currently, Kurz is organizing the 78 churches into a group that will educate others on river clean-up issues and pollution prevention, and organize 5,000 volunteers to influence legislation as necessary. The R.O.L. will soon have the capacity to mobilize the majority of 10,000 families within these churches.
Due to Kurz’s leadership and hard work, the R.O.L. program will soon become a 501(c)(3) status nonprofit organization and will receive extra support through grants, private and corporate donations, and parish assessments. Kurz is responsible for developing an organization that will provide a community of 5 million residents with clean water for drinking, fishing and recreational activities for years to come.