Beyond Boxes: Volk Packaging to Honor Military with 'Heroes Wall'
While traveling through a remote region of central Maine, Derek Volk suddenly found the inspiration for the next installation at Volk Packaging Corp., the Biddeford, Maine-based corrugated packaging company he presides over.
But the inspiration that struck him that day was not for a new piece of equipment to supplement his printing and manufacturing facility. It was to create a memorial, right on his company’s lawn, to honor those who have served in the United States military.
“[My wife and I] were driving through this little town of Abbot,” Volk recalls. “It’s like 700 people and when we got into town, there was this beautiful war memorial and it was very impressive. We left and we were driving away and I thought, ‘Every town should have something like this.’”
When he returned home to Biddeford, Volk says he posted about his idea to create the Volk Packaging Heroes Wall on Facebook. After he published his post, Volk says someone who was involved in a similar project at a restaurant in nearby Portland, Maine, contacted him to check out that memorial wall.
After visiting the wall in Portland, Volk says he borrowed its format, which will utilize tiles that can be purchased by public citizens and corporations to honor anyone that has served in the military. He was also able to shore up a co-sponsor for the wall in the Biddeford and Saco Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
When the wall is constructed, Volk says the top row will be reserved for corporate sponsors, and the majority of the wall will be dedicated to tiles purchased by members of the public. Though the wall won’t be officially unveiled until May, Volk says many tiles have already been reserved, honoring a wide array of people who have served, spanning multiple generations.
“Anybody can sponsor somebody,” Volk says. “They don’t have to have passed away. They don’t have to have served in a war. It can be anybody who has served in any branch of the armed services. There are people that have been sponsoring their great grandfather, and there are people that have been sponsoring their kids and spouses.”
And while those being honored along the Heroes Wall do not have to be from Maine, Volk says he wanted to ensure the proceeds of the project stay local, selecting the Biddeford/Saco/Old Orchard Beach VFW as the recipient.
“I really wanted the money to stay local,” he says. “I hope someone copies my idea and does something for their local organization.”
To help kickstart the project, Volk says he got the Volk Packaging employees involved by sponsoring a tile for each of them. While Volk says the company’s staff members have all expressed enthusiasm for the project, he is excited to see how they react once the Heroes Wall is fully installed.
“I don’t think they realize how nice this is going to be and how special it’s going to be for the whole community,” he says. “Once it’s up, I think it’s going to make them very proud to be a part of it.”
Volk says he has also strategically scheduled the installation of the wall so as many of the company’s employees as possible can take part. The unveiling will take place on Thursday, May 17, at 3 p.m., between the company’s two shifts. Volk says the company will also have parking spaces reserved for visitors so members of the community can come.
Though the Volk Packaging name will be included on the wall, Volk says his goal is for the memorial to be a part of the overall Biddeford community for the foreseeable future. Even on the off chance that something happens to Volk Packaging, he says the hope is that the tradition the company is starting with the Heroes Wall will continue on.
“I’m hoping this thing lasts long past me,” he says. “I hope it’s the start of something that lasts a long time whether I’m around or whether Volk Packaging is around, that somebody keeps this thing going.”