PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2017 part 2

Ephrata Cloister Associates
Wayne Gongaware
In 1998 the Ephrata Cloister Chorus planned a concert tour of Germany but needed a few more singers. The choral director called on his friend Wayne Gongaware to join the group. Little did Wayne know that twenty years later he would be lending more than just his voice to keep Ephrata alive. He is an active volunteer, always available to help with special projects. In 2014 Wayne joined the Associates Board of Directors, assuming the role of Treasurer and overseeing a new budgeting and financial accounting system for the Associates. He serves on the Associates Personnel Committee and is the Board liaison to The Museum Store. Over the years, Wayne has organized funds for two more Chorus trips to Germany, and he helped lead the way to the Associates’ first fundraising gala in 2016. He is currently the chairman for the second gala, planned for May 2018. Wayne was a leading member of the Website Committee, which selected a new designer and worked closely with the designer and the site staff to develop a new website that made its debut in November 2017. His retirement from a long professional career as a financial planner will allow him even more time to devote to the Ephrata Cloister as well as to his other interests.

Flagship Niagara League
Steve Dusza
Since joining the Volunteer Staff of the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara in 2014, Steve Dusza has logged more than 958 hours as a Guide. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he is always eager to aid or attend whatever project, class, talk, school or tour group, day sail, and event that is taking place at the Museum and on the ship. Steve is one of the anchors of the Weekend Guide Staff and is a member of the regular Thursday Afternoon Guide Staff. He rarely misses volunteering at an event and is vital to greeting and talking with visitors. His suggestions, advice and counsel, and sense of humor are always timely and supportive of our mission. Steve’s persistent hard work and learning are a valuable asset to the Erie Maritime Museum and the U.S. Brig Niagara.

Friends of Graeme Park
Phyllis Visco
Phyllis Visco came to Graeme Park in 2008, recruited by a friend when the Halloween program was in need of a few more volunteers. Phyllis had never been to Graeme Park before that day but came along and helped throughout the event. The rest, as they say, is history. She volunteered at that event and nearly every event since, even adjusting her work schedule when necessary. As food chairperson for each program, Phyllis preps, sells, and cleans up, which is a huge and sometimes difficult task. She fills in wherever she is needed, including one Halloween program where she dressed and danced in a pig costume! When supplies run short or extra help is needed, Phyllis is quickly on her way to get the needed items or to recruit friends to volunteer. Her shining, warm, and happy personality is appreciated by all who have the pleasure of working with her or meeting her for a food purchase. She jokes, she laughs, and she makes everyone she encounters feel welcome.

Friends of Hope Lodge
Melanie Hay
Melanie Hay has a long history with Hope Lodge, beginning her service as a volunteer tour guide while in high school. As a college intern, she worked as a counselor at Hope Lodge’s Summer Children’s Camp. Melanie’s service to Hope Lodge continued over the last two years as President of the Friends. During her tenure, she led the transformation of business processes, increased visitor traffic through regular monthly tours, and reinvigorated the membership base. Additional events were added to the program calendar, and Melanie took on the responsibility of chairperson for the site’s signature event, the annual Whitemarsh Encampment. Although her term as President has been completed, Melanie continues to support the Friends as Membership Chair and as a volunteer.

The Friends of Joseph Priestley House
Dee Casteel
Dee Casteel has been a crucial part of the Joseph Priestley House community for many years. In 2017, she was exceptionally active and was instrumental in bringing Joseph Priestley to the public throughout the entire year. Dee provided scientific expertise to the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s staff as they put on the play Gunpowder Joe: Joseph Priestley, Pennsylvania, and the American Experiment. As a part of the Susquehanna Valley American Chemical Society’s Annual Awards Banquet for high school and college student award winners, Dee gave a presentation entitled, “Joseph Priestley, Chemistry and Controversy.” She organized a panel session, “Life & Times of Joseph Priestley,” at the 2017 Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, where she was joined by other members of the Friends board to talk about Dr. Priestley and the Priestley House. Dee has been vital to the success of the site in her role as President of the Board of the Friends for the past three years, as well as in volunteering her time for various events throughout the years and recruiting her fellow Unitarian Universalist Congregation members to carol for the annual Twelfth Night event.

Landis Valley Associates
Danielle Retallack
Dani Retallack has been volunteering at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum for 30 years. While teaching full time and taking care of young children, she became a member of the Harvest Festival Committee, recruiting event volunteers by phone. She also took charge of one of the site’s youth programs. Dani has also been working with the interpretation staff for the past 30 years. Every Thursday from April to October, she can be found in the Textile Building, dressed in period garb, interpreting the textile process. Each year she puts a new quilt on the quilting frame, which she interprets to visitors throughout the summer and finishes by October. In 2011, Dani started volunteering with the Curatorial Department, every Tuesday throughout the year and every Thursday during the winter. She has been instrumental in cataloguing hundreds of artifacts and entering them into the STAR and ARGUS collections management systems. In short, Dani has been an indispensable part of the Landis Valley family for three decades.

Friends of Old Economy Village
Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts fell in love with Old Economy Village and Ambridge when he first visited in 2012. As with many volunteers, his involvement started slowly. He joined the Friends, began attending programs and events, and in 2014 was elected to the Board of Directors. Once on the Board, Steve became an active member and then Chairman of the Events Committee, working to improve event planning, promotion, and execution. Steve also became the Secretary of the Board and has served on the Nominating and Strategic Planning Committees. Steve has been a passionate advocate for the site, and in 2017 he spearheaded the “Bringing History Alive at Old Economy Village” initiative to raise funds to enhance programming, improve marketing, and increase Friends staffing. Through his efforts, the Friends received a $50,000 challenge grant from the Jack Buncher Foundation and raised an additional $33,000 in matching support in the first six months of the fundraising campaign. In addition to his involvement at Old Economy, Steve is the Chair of Ambridge’s Historic Architecture Review Board, serves on the Downtown Development Committee, is active with the Ambridge Historic District Economic Development Corporation, and is the incoming President of the Rotary Club of Ambridge.