Volunteers minister at Spirit West Coast

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Kevin Hurley spends 50 weeks of the year at his job with Pacific Gas & Electric. The other two weeks he spends as a volunteer at Spirit West Coast, the largest and only multiday Christian music festival  in the southwestern United States.

On Memorial Day weekend Hurley, along with 950 other Christians, will again offer his time and talents at the annual Del Mar event. The PG&E lineman is one of several people who volunteer at both the Del Mar and Monterey sites. He directs the electrical, construction, on-site purchasing, and information technology areas of the events.

"This year we're trying to add Internet access," he said. "This will allow people who couldn't otherwise come because of work to be able to enjoy the event."

Hurley arrives several days before the event to set up, serves the entire three days and stays several days afterward to break everything down and clean up. The week, he said, is his offering to the Lord.

"I set up  God's church," Hurley said. "I do it because I like to see people come to Christ. I'm building a facility for them to come and enjoy the teaching, music and fellowship."

Spirit West Coast Director of Operations and Administration Dave Martinez is astonished at the giving spirit of Hurley and the other volunteers who make each event possible.

"It's amazing to me that all these people continue, year after year, to give of themselves and their time because they believe in what the event is doing," Martinez said. "Some people are called to be missionaries overseas. Some are called to be inner-city missionaries. For those who volunteer at Spirit West Coast, either for one year or over and over each year, it is their mission field. In fact, almost a hundred people have been with us every year since our first event here in Del Mar in 2004."

Opportunities to serve span the spectrum from selling merchandise for the performing  artists and monitoring the autograph signing area to specialized positions in the medical, technical, and electrical areas.

 Many safety officers are also needed to assist with crowd and gate control.

Training for each position is mandatory and takes place on site early the first day. The minimum age to volunteer is 17, with one exception. Volunteers in the children's area can be as young as 15.

"We want kids helping with the kids," Martinez said. "The little kids are more apt to walk up to a 15-year-old than an older volunteer." 

While half of the volunteers are first-timers, the rest have served at Spirit West Coast more than once.

"For some it is an annual thing," Martinez said. "They love what they do. They come back year after year and see all their friends." 


Group ministry
Many individuals sign up to help and many come in groups. Two to three dozen men from the San Diego Rescue Mission pick up litter, and a large group of Navigators serve throughout the event. A youth group from Phoenix makes the annual trek to fill a need directing parking. Locally, 300 to 400 volunteers staff the ministry tents, prayer rooms and assist with altar calls.

Although volunteers commit to four-and-a-half hour shifts each day of the three-day event, Martinez stresses that they don't want people working all the time.

"We want them to go out and enjoy the event," he said. "We want them to see what happens. We want them to see the ministry of Spirit West Coast.

"Many of our volunteers may be active in their church. But as far as outside stuff, it's Spirit West Coast. People keep coming back because they believe in what happens here. Sure, it's a fun time, but it's a lot more than that."

Hurley, for one, doesn't need convincing.

"It's a great, joyous place to serve," Hurley confirmed. "All the volunteers are wonderful. We have a great fellowship before, during and after the festival."

To learn more about becoming a Spirit West Coast volunteer, visit the Get Involved section of their web site at www.spiritwestcoast.org.