Cincinnati, OH, April 17, 2017
Easterseals’ Building Value is known as a place where you stumble upon unexpected treasures, which is also an apt description of how Mark Keillor became a part of the Easterseals family.
Mark had heard about Building Value’s construction training program in the news and thought it sounded interesting, so he went in the next Monday to apply for a job. There weren’t any full-time positions available at the time, and he didn’t qualify for the workforce development program. But something about the place felt right, so he asked if he could volunteer.
Five years later, Mark has the esteemed title of longest-standing volunteer at Easterseals, and has become an irreplaceable part of Building Value. To coincide with National Volunteer Week, we can’t think of a more appropriate unexpected treasure than Mark Keillor to recognize as our Easterseals Hero for April 2017.
Store Manager David Daniels says, “He was able to help with so many projects, he became de facto family here fast.”
“It is a gift to have someone as reliable as Mark on your team,” says Volunteer and Events Coordinator Erica Busch. “I am always asking myself how we can find ourselves a hundred more Marks.”
Mark brushes off such praise, saying frankly, “I like what I do there [at Building Value] because it’s what I like to do.”
It’s a good thing that he likes the work he does at Building Value, because the store definitely keeps him busy! All of Building Value’s retail inventory comes from donations: donations from property owners who hired Building Value’s deconstruction crew to carefully remove cabinets or architectural details in preparation for renovation or demolition, one-time drop-offs of appliances or furniture, even donations from stores who find themselves with overstock. Unfortunately, not every item donated is in an acceptable state to be resold. This is where Mark comes in.
“His ability to take stuff, like an old rusty fan? You call Mark and he can bring it back to life,” says David Daniels. “He never steps away from a challenge. We have a piano right now, it had a key that didn’t work. Mark took the part of the piano, made a custom piece, and put it back together.”
Mark's natural mechanical aptitude and artistic abilities are not only a great service to Building Value, but they have taken Mark through variety of occupations and projects throughout his career. With a degree in Urban Studies and Economics from Ball State, Mark worked as a planner for engineering companies, as the Director of the Greensburg Chamber of Commerce, as part of a community and economic development consulting company, and even spent a few years in homeland security.
He relocated to Cincinnati with dreams of getting into nonprofits. Unfortunately, with the Great Recession, there were not many jobs to be had, so he worked at Home Depot and took odd jobs in business communications and marketing. Now technically retired, he continues to work part-time for various organizations while pursuing freelance projects like inventions and educational economic seminars. He even finds time to contribute to the ReUse-apalooza! Designer Challenge every year. This year’s creation promises to channel Steam Punk, he says.
Now that Mark has been part of the Easterseals family for five years, we can’t imagine what we would do without him. We are grateful that he stumbled upon Building Value, because we are deeply grateful to consider such a treasure not just a part of our team, but a friend. Thank you for all you do, Mark—you are an Easterseals Hero!