July 11, 2023
MDS Project Director reflects on the joys of the job
By Lois Wenger
Rollie Ulrich, of Syracuse, Indiana, has been the Project Director on six or seven sites since he started in 2019. But you can tell from his photo that he had time to get a lot of other work under his belt before that!
Rollie spent 46 years in healthcare, getting his start as a young man doing voluntary service work as an orderly in the hospital in LaJunta, Colorado. While there, he met a very capable nurse named Laura. Her example and instruction influenced Rollie to become a registered nurse.
So how does a nurse of 40 years run a construction site? With some of the same qualities a nurse needs! Kind compassion, flexibility, patience, and management of work crews comprised of a variety of people. But Rollie needed more.
Phil Helmuth helped Rollie get the general MDS training he needed in Hesston, Kansas. Then Rollie headed off to LaGrange, Texas for some hands-on training with experienced Project Director, Carl Dube, before his own debut as Project Director in Fort Myers, Florida.
“Carl was really instrumental in getting me started,” said Rollie. “I’m very careful to have the help I need as a Project Director, seeing I have no construction experience. But with a good Construction Supervisor and Crew Leaders, I’m good to go!”
"He is quick to agree that the way God guides our lives is amazing."
— Lois Wenger, referencing Rollie Ulrich
And Rollie keeps coming back for more. In addition to serving as Project Director again and again, he is also the Chair of the Northern Indiana/Lower Michigan MDS Unit.
“I want to follow Jesus’ example,” he says, “not just with words but with a lifestyle that is about loving my neighbor, seeking justice, and helping the less fortunate.”
MDS is all of that and more.
Even Rollie’s side job of transporting Amish in his “spare time” is related to MDS: he makes it a point to let his Amish neighbors know when and where there are MDS opportunities.
Rollie and his wife, Velma, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year, along with their three children and seven grandchildren. He is quick to agree that the way God guides our lives is amazing. For you see, he met Velma in LaJunta, and Laura is Carl Dube’s wife.
Lois Wenger, a frequent MDS volunteer, lives Port Henry, New York.