Valuing Volunteers, Part III

This is the third installment in a three-part tribute to PHMC’s Volunteer of the Year honorees.

This week, we wrap up our retrospective on volunteers recognized for their contributions in 2009. Volunteers of the Year for 2009 were honored at a ceremony on May 8 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. In two previous posts (here and here), Trailheads introduced you to some of those volunteers, and now we’ll complete the list. The thumbnail sketches below provide a brief glimpse of the fine work of these dedicated Pennsylvanians, but a more complete view is available on the PHMC website.

David G. Rhoades, a member of the Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum since the group was founded in 1991, focused massive amounts of time and attention on the job of bringing two 14-inch guns from the USS Pennsylvania to the grounds of the Museum (where they are now on display). Rhoades worked with museum and PHMC staff and the US Navy on logistical arrangements and also spearheaded a fundraising effort that was critical to the completion of this effort. His dedication to this project, and many others, has made a significant impact on the Museum.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has benefited in many ways and for many years from the volunteer support and advocacy of Jere W. Schuler, a former member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and a former social sciences educator and coach in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District. His work in the restoration shop and in the visitor services area, in addition to his service on the board of directors and advisory council for the Friends of the Railroad Museum, makes him a highly valued asset to the Museum.

Jeff Myers has volunteered at The State Museum of Pennsylvania since 1996, when he worked with the Museum’s archaeology team at Ephrata Cloister. His efforts after that have been devoted primarily to Museum programs, where he makes families feel welcome and cared for. His contributions of time and energy have enhanced such programs as Night of the Great Pumpkin, IdeaZone, and Stop-and-Learn. This winter he helped visitors learn about the newly articulated Marshalls Creek Mastodon, which premiered as part of the TUSKS! Exhibit.

As the most recent embodiment of George Washington at the annual Christmas crossing of the Delaware, John Godzieba has added to the list of his contributions to Washington Crossing Historic Park. He has volunteered at the crossing event for 18 years (as a member of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment) and has been working diligently to help restart the site’s interpretive programs (put on hold as a result of budget cuts and construction projects). His efforts to help raise funds for the site and to increase publicity and awareness are greatly appreciated.

Several volunteers were designated to receive the Outstanding Service Award, which honors exceptional, long-term contributions in support of PHMC sites and museums. In part 2 of this series, we listed Brian Scott of the Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara, who received both a Volunteer of the Year award and an Outstanding Service Award. Also receiving Outstanding Service Awards were Robert Lawrence and Ruth Granfors.

Robert J. Lawrence is a founding and charter member of the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and has devoted many years of service as a board member, including serving as President of the organization. During his years of leadership, the museum saw tremendous growth in membership, financial resources, and programs (Steinman Station passenger station, Stewart Junction education center, and the restoration shop, to name a few). The Friends established an endowment fund and advocated for the release of state monies to ensure the expansion of Rolling Stock Hall.

Ruth Granfors has served as President of the Friends of the State Museum during very difficult financial times. Her leadership abilities have gotten the Friends organized and kept them on task as they undertook an extremely ambitious fundraising campaign centered on the Marshalls Creek Mastodon. Granfors worked tirelessly with the Pennsylvania Heritage Society on administrative details and committees to help make the Buy-A-Bone campaign the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the history of the Friends of the State Museum.

A new award was inaugurated this year—the Chairman’s Special Recognition Award. This award highlights the achievements of volunteers in fundraising and advocacy service to PHMC sites and museums.

Pete Shelly and Fred Powell (third and fourth from left above, pictured with State Museum Director Jack Leighow, PHMC Chairman Wayne Spilove, and PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco) co-chaired the State Museum's Buy-A-Bone campaign, developed in concert with the Pennsylvania Heritage Society. The goal of the campaign is to raise funds for the remounting of the Marshalls Creek Mastodon skeleton and upgrades to the museum’s Paleontology Gallery, which will be the skeleton’s new home when it reopens in 2011. Shelly and Powell brought a level of enthusiasm and energy to the campaign and generated a great deal of excitement around the project. As of the May ceremony, the Buy-A-Bone campaign (which is ongoing) had generated $58,000 in support of the museum.


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