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Couple volunteers together to coordinate wait ‘n rides

Emily and Joshua Coffin have volunteered as transportation coordinators with Symphony in the Flint Hills for six years. (Photo by Ian Knight)

“We fake it good,” answered Joshua Coffin.

Observing them on symphony day, people would likely assume Coffin and his wife, Emily, had the perfect marriage. That’s how precise and well organized this power couple has been when it comes to their roles as coordinators of transportation between the entrance and concert site.

Emily and Joshua Coffin have been married for 10 years and have been volunteering at the Symphony in the Flint Hills event for the past six, well at least Emily has. Joshua missed a year when he nicked his knee with a chainsaw while cutting a hedge-post.

“…yea,” he said with a big smile.

They come back every year to keep the shuttles running smoothly for the attendees, especially the handicapped individuals. “We do it because we love it,” Emily said. “Yeah, and if we don’t get the recognition, we’re fine with it,” said Joshua as the couple begins their break after a hectic start to the event.

That feeling of unselfishness is shared among their volunteer drivers as well.

“Word of mouth, so many repeats,” Joshua said, over half of the volunteers for transportation are repeat volunteers, so the couple does not have to recruit a lot. “We’ll ask friends and family,” Emily said while using her forearm to shade herself from the sun. For the most part the other volunteers do a good enough job promoting the joys of transporting on their own.

Attendees ride into the sunset at the close of the Kansas City Symphony concert to head home. (Photo by Trudy Martin)

Word of mouth is what brought first-year transportation volunteer, Jill Blake, aboard. Blake graduated with Emily from Chase County High School in 2000. Not surprising, seeing as the people of the Flint Hills place an importance on community. Emily didn’t even ask Jill to volunteer personally. A friend of the family did and Blake agreed. After all, she was an attendee of the event as a kid growing up. Emily, who is a native to Cottonwood Falls, was also the next-door neighbor to Sandy Carlson, volunteer and education coordinator of Symphony in the Flint Hills. Before moving out of state for a while with her husband, Emily attended Symphony in the Prairie, the inspiration for Symphony in the Flint Hills.

Attendees often return as volunteers. It’s their way of bringing awareness to the last remaining three percent of the Flint Hills. The Kansas City Symphony may attract the people, but the hills, a place where you can look out over the horizon for miles without the obstruction of buildings or paved roads, keeps them coming back.

Joshua urges people to just sit back for a couple of hours after the symphony is finished.  Enjoy the views, he said, because there is going to be over an hour wait to exit.

“I’d wanna be under the stars enjoying it, than sitting in your car for 45 minutes.”

— by Ian Knight