PHMC Volunteer of the Year Honorees for 2015, Pt. 3

Pennsbury Manor
The Pennsbury Society
Ron Schmid
Ron Schmid has been a strong advocate for Pennsbury Manor as president of the board the past two years and as a board member prior to that. He has inspired the board to pay close attention to their fiduciary responsibilities and the site's financial needs. Four years ago Ron led a select committee that developed a communications deck that presents a consistent message to raise our profile with the public and our supporters. During Pennsbury’s 75th anniversary as a historic site in 2014, he was tireless in support of the many special events of the anniversary year, including Charter Day, which featured the original Charter of Pennsylvania and a visit by Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett; an exhibit of Violet Oakley oil paintings that were studies for her murals in the Pennsylvania State Capitol; and a U.S. citizenship ceremony that highlighted William Penn's Holy Experiment. Ron's vision, leadership, and goal-oriented strategy for change have helped to transform the board and site to face the next 75 years. We are pleased to honor him as Volunteer of the Year.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates
Sam Cooke Sam Cooke began working with the Lumber Museum in 2009 as a forestry advisor within Tioga State Forest. He continued after his retirement in 2011, contributing his time and energy as a board member and as a volunteer on numerous projects. He helps to maintain the Sustainable Forestry Trail and continues to strengthen the partnership between the Lumber Museum and the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources State Forest District 16. He was instrumental in the creation of the museum’s birch still and supervises the still on demonstration days, harvesting birch saplings, feeding the fire, and talking to visitors. He has conducted considerable research on birch stills, reaching out to local families and “old-timers” with direct experience, family stories, and antique equipment. We extend our deepest thanks to Sam Cooke for all of the hard work, good ideas, and dedication he has provided and look forward to many years of continued partnership.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum
Thomas Gray
Tom Gray began his volunteer service at the Pennsylvania Military Museum by participating as a Vietnam-era 1st Cavalry soldier-interpreter at the inaugural event of “VIETNAM Revisited” in July of 2007. He has continued to participate, helping to draw scores of Vietnam Vets with a respectful representation of overseas field service in Southeast Asia. Tom also portrays a WWII combat officer during the “World War II Revisited” weekend, acting as encampment coordinator and liaison between reenactors and museum staff. He draws upon his twenty-year army career to participate as the First Sergeant for the annual Boot Camp for Kids, where he orchestrates the platoon activities of more than 50 staff and recruits in this one-day immersive experience program. Tom also shares his experiences as a Cold War-era tank commander, providing tours of the M60A3 battle tank. We are grateful for Tom’s dedication and passion for volunteering and are pleased to honor him as Volunteer of the Year.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Friends of the Railroad Museum
Doug O’Brien
Doug O'Brien began volunteering at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in February 2014 and in only two years has made quite an impact on the exhibits. Although he participates in many special events and projects as needed, his primary concentration has been working on the HO-scale model train layout in the lobby, where he can be found almost daily. Under Doug’s watch and with the assistance of other volunteers he has welcomed, the operation of the Pennsylvania Middle Division layout has dramatically improved and visitor questions are answered in a friendly and informative manner. For his dedication and commitment to the Railroad Museum’s mission and visitors, we thank Doug and are pleased to recognize him as Volunteer of the Year.

Somerset Historical Center
Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County
Kathy Murdy
Kathy Murdy, a board member of the HGSSC, has for many years coordinated corporate sponsorships for the annual Mountain Craft Days festival. For 2015, she launched a new fundraising initiative that involved combining the buckwheat cake/sausage booth already managed by HGSSC with the chicken/ham potpie booth when a local church bowed out of running it. Kathy forged a cooperative agreement with the church to provide nearly 2,000 servings of potpie, organized delivery throughout the three-day festival, and developed an ordering/serving system to track orders and sales. She supervised set-up, decoration, and tear-down and recruited volunteers to staff the booths over the course of the festival. Kathy’s efforts turned what would have been a loss of revenue for HGSSC into a new source of income for the site’s programs. We thank her for her leadership, ingenuity, and creativity and are pleased to honor her as Volunteer of the Year.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania
The Friends of the State Museum
Toni Donchak
Toni Donchak has been volunteering with The State Museum since the mid-1990s. She began assisting in the archaeology lab where her duties included washing and processing artifacts and later expanded to data entry, library cataloging and outreach program assistance. Toni has helped with public outreach programs at Kipona, Fort Hunter Days, the Pennsylvania Farm Show and the Workshops in Archaeology program, and she regularly volunteers with the excavations at Fort Hunter Mansion & Park. In addition to her work in the Section of Archaeology, in 2011, Toni became a State Museum docent, serving many hours teaching school groups about the daily life of a Pennsylvania coal miner, giving tours of the Art of the State exhibit, helping in Curiosity Corner, decorating the museum of Christmas, and providing hospitality at numerous public events. Toni’s passion for and interest in The State Museum has made a positive impact on visitors and staff, and she is a true asset to the volunteer program.

PHMC’s Outstanding Service Award for 2015
Old Economy Village
Friends of Old Economy Village
Patty, Bob, and Courtney Clendennen
The Clendennens’ frequent family visits to Old Economy Village in the early 1980s turned into a volunteer commitment that has lasted more than three decades. Patty has at various times managed the museum store, conducted hundreds of school tours, helped with such site programs and events as Christmastime for Children and Christmas at the Village, and served as director of the Student Historian program and the annual Summer History Camp. Bob has been an active Friends board member and is currently serving as president for the third time. He has drawn on his considerable knowledge of Harmonist history, architecture, and artifacts to support and lead numerous efforts, including the release of capital funds for the Feast Hall Building and Natural History Museum, the Rapp House, Granary, Warehouse, Robertson House, and the Visitor Center; listing the historic district that surrounds Old Economy Village on the National Register of Historic Places; funding and installing period-appropriate street lights. While still in her teens, Courtney began volunteering at Old Economy as a Student Historian (with her sister, Kimmy). She now serves as facilitator for the Summer History Camp and uses her skills as a teacher to assist with children’s crafts and activities at OEV festivals, portrays historical and entertaining characters, helps out at most site events, and leads historic tours of the site. This is a family that understands what it means to give of their time, talents and treasure. We are pleased and proud to honor their many contributions to Old Economy Village, the town of Ambridge, and the Commonwealth by presenting them with the PHMC’s Outstanding Service Award.