PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2018, part 1

Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates
Juliana Puccini
Juliana Puccini has been a faithful docent at the Anthracite Heritage Museum since 2009, giving tours to hundreds of school children. She definitely has a gift for working with children; she welcomes all their questions and makes their learning experience most enjoyable. Volunteering with our children’s summer camp, she has led sessions of hands-on activities related to regional Pennsylvania history, notably anthracite coal heritage and folklore. For the past three years, Juliana has helped to develop our spring tea, participated in the tea presentations, and created delectable sandwiches and luscious desserts for the programs. In addition to her museum volunteering, Juliana is active in her church and their social events. As a hobby, she designs scarves, handbags, glass cases, and makes use of her natural love of sewing. We are privileged to have Juliana as a volunteer at the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates
Nicholas Rodia
Nick Rodia has been volunteering at Brandywine Battlefield Park since February 2016. In his free time, Nick educates himself by reading books on American History. His primary focus was initially on the American Civil War, but he has an equal interest in the American Revolution, which led to his becoming a volunteer docent at Brandywine (the most fun he has had in decades, he says). He has assisted with guided tours of the Benjamin Ring Home and the Gideon Gilpin Home and has made himself available to help out with large event programs. Nick regularly goes above and beyond with his services and has graciously donated countless hours to educating the public about the importance of our site and to enhancing the implementation of the site’s mission. On hot summer afternoons, Nick can be seen passing out wicker fans (which he brings from home) to visitors so they can obtain some sort of relief.

Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society
Emily Liska, John Harris, and Nick Sopko
Now attending the Virginia Military Institute, Emily Liska has been a volunteer for 6 years, contributing skills from fundraising and event organizing to bagpiping. For her high school senior project in 2017-18, Emily put together a crowd-sourced fundraising and marketing campaign that raised funds for new promotional signs. She also organized and promoted Bushy Run’s first Charter Day event. John Harris’s first volunteer assignment at Bushy Run, at age 5, was to help his father with crowd control at the annual reenactment. He held his arms out and shouted, “Stand back! I’m security.” Now a high school junior, John has volunteered over the years as a reenactor, taught children’s camp attendees how to march and drum, assisted with numerous special events, and participated in various Boy Scout projects at the site, including his own Eagle Scout project. Nick Sopko, also a high school junior, has spent almost every day of the past two seasons volunteering at Bushy Run in numerous capacities, accumulating over 400 hours of service. Nick is willing to do anything and everything and has become an extremely knowledgeable tour guide. His enthusiasm and high spirits are an inspiration.

Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead
David Hoffman
David Hoffman’s story about getting involved with the Conrad Weiser Homestead starts in a way we frequently hear. He and his family were first introduced to the Homestead while living in Womelsdorf in the 1980s. In 2015, David retired from teaching, having spent 32 years as a middle and high school German instructor. He was aware of the need for volunteers at local sites and decided to lend as much support to the Homestead as possible. David became a Docent, along with providing voluntary support for the activities at the Homestead. He has been a great help at the site, especially working with visitors who speak German. There is a certain sparkle in his eye when he can speak in dialect with those from Conrad Weiser’s homeland. He has gone a step further and has a complete set of 18th-century-style clothing to wear when he conducts tours.

Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace
Karin Mitchell
Karin Mitchell is a seasoned volunteer who currently serves as both the Financial Secretary and the Membership Chair for the Friends. She began volunteering at Cornwall in 1997 but was interrupted when she and her family moved away to Chicago in 2001. Upon returning to Pennsylvania in 2006 Karin resumed volunteering at the museum. Over the years she has helped with such special events as Blast and the Christmas at Cornwall House Tour, provided computer technical support, and helped set up tracking systems for the museum store. Currently, Karin is helping other Friends members to design an educational booklet for visiting youth. When asked about volunteering, Karin explains that “We have a long history of volunteerism in my family. I was taught, from an early age, the importance of ‘giving back’ to the community, and I hope I am setting a positive example of service for my children.” She is also a very active volunteer for other Lebanon County organizations, including the Friends of Annville Free Library, the Lebanon County Historical Society, Cedar Crest Music Aides, and Cedar Crest School District.

Friends of the Daniel Boone Homestead
William Jewell
Over the past two years, Bill Jewell has become one of Daniel Boone Homestead’s most multi-faceted volunteers. He comes to every event as a different persona – from Squire Boone, Daniel’s father, to Nathanial Boone, Daniel’s son, to an 18th-century magician. He has taught our visitors about tools and tool-making, soap-making, building styles of the different groups that settled in our area, and the ways men’s clothing reflected their job and social status. Bill lends a hand whenever he can, whether it is dropping off rack cards at the hotels or taking postcards or flyers around to different businesses, to help promote an upcoming event. Bill has come up with a multitude of creative ways to help teach visitors about life in the 18th century and about the famed frontiersman, Daniel Boone. His laid-back personality makes him a pleasure to be around. Bill does not require much guidance and takes responsibility for his presentations, including getting his area set up to receive visitors. We are very blessed that he found his way to us. We appreciate all of his hard work and dedication and look forward to many years of seeing Bill’s smiling face.

Friends of Drake Well, Inc.
Mary Jane Hiller
Mary Jane Hiller, a Drake Well volunteer since 2012, logged an incredible 600 hours of service in 2018. Always eager to help, Mary Jane provides visitor services at the front desk every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, cheerfully welcoming guests, giving them an orientation to the museum, and answering any questions they may have. With her upbeat attitude and ready smile, Mary Jane can be relied on during rain, sleet, or snow, and she is always eager to stand in if another volunteer needs to cancel. In addition to her visitor services work, Mary Jane made significant contributions to the care of Drake Well Museum’s collections over the past year. She helped rehouse over 100 boxes of manuscript material from the United Refining and Oil City Civic Center Collections, organizing papers, labeling folders, and removing a truckload of paperclips. In fact, the wide variety of paperclips she discovered led to popular tweets and Facebook posts regarding the history of paperclips! Mary Jane also assisted curatorial staff with research for the museum’s temporary exhibit on oil and World War I, as well as with image research for the annual Oilfield Journal.

Eckley Miners’ Village Associates
The Neyhart Family
Joyce and Paul Neyhart, along with their children, Tabatha, Paul, and Alex, and their grandson Theo, have made extraordinary contributions to Eckley Miners’ Village. Together and separately, they have completed hundreds of hours in volunteer service to the site. They have raised funds in support of Eckley, performed outreach to the community, and provided tours of the Village to visitors. The Neyharts have also been on hand to volunteer during our special events and programs. They are involved in planning Eckley’s most popular event, Haunted Halloween Lantern Tours. Their contributions have included creating an elaborate maze and haunted settings, as well as coordinating and cooking meals for the more than 100 volunteers who make this program possible.