Will Gove has been involved in meeting the needs of the community for his entire life. For the past 33 years, he has spent several hours each weekend reading to the blind on a radio broadcast. He has served on the boards of 10 local nonprofit organizations, has been a teacher and a mentor for Junior Achievement for the past seven years and helped to establish the Honeywell Corporation’s National Volunteer Retiree Program—the first organized corporate volunteer program for retirees.
Most notably, at the age of 81, Gove has dedicated his third retirement to volunteering at Urban Ventures, a nonprofit community development corporation in the inner city of Minneapolis. During the past three years, Gove has been the volunteer project director for the construction of two soccer fields for youth.
Gove’s volunteer activities have always been targeted at those who are in greatest need. By reading to the blind, Gove shares news and stories with an audience who would otherwise not receive this information. The coordination of Urban Ventures’ soccer field project was based on the fact that there was previously only one field built and maintained for soccer in the entire city of Minneapolis.
Urban Ventures is located in a culturally diverse community and the one common link among the youth is their universal love for soccer. Everyone plays soccer, from Latinos to Ethiopians to Hmong. Sensing the need for inner-city youth to have a safe place to play and practice, Gove committed his time and abilities to constructing two fields. More than 400 youth have already played on these fields and when the regulation-size field is completed, more than 1,000 youth will have access to top-quality fields.
The soccer fields are built on land that was a brownfield. Gove coordinated the first-ever environmental initiative that involved the city, local utility companies, and the appropriate environmental agencies, who all contributed pro bono labor to complete environmental testing on the land. In addition, Gove secured the contribution of additional parcels of property from the Honeywell Corporation and the Hennepin County Railroad Authority, which enabled Urban Ventures to construct one regulation-size field and one practice field.
In addition to working as a volunteer for 40 hours a week, Gove has involved more than 25 other retirees from Honeywell, his former place of employment, and the cooperative where he currently lives. Retirees volunteer in the Urban Ventures Learning Lab as youth tutors and mentors and help neighborhood residents write business plans and obtain financing.