PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2017 part 1

Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates
Kathleen Donahue
Volunteer Kathleen E. Donohue assisted with the 2016 Christmas Marketplace at the Anthracite Heritage Museum and the 2017 Arts on Fire event at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. The two events involved coordination of numerous elements—local artists and vendors, music, raffles, demonstrations, education tents, and food. Kathleen also helped put together a very successful Fire Up the Furnaces fundraiser in June and sat on the planning committee for the Bonfire and Stoke the Fire fundraisers. Kathleen was instrumental in getting Lamar Advertising to donate over 25 billboards to the museum over the course of the year, which significantly increased the museum’s presence in the community and attendance at events. There were multiple billboards for all significant museum programs plus a special 10-billboard donation that was used for a two-month public awareness campaign last spring. For each donation, Kathleen worked closely with the museum and the Lamar Art Department to design the billboard; she also coordinated the contracts required to place the signs and ensured that all deadlines were met.

Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates
George Tolton
George Tolton, Brandywine’s “Dance Master,” has been dazzling visitors with his interactive dance programs for over a decade. His “Take a Dance,” part of the site’s “Colonial Day” school programming, consistently ranks as one of the most-requested programs by visiting schools throughout Pennsylvania as well as out of state. George engages the students and welcomes the teachers and chaperones to actively participate in learning 18th-century dances. The program contextualizes our history through dance and guides participants into past social roles, manners, and behaviors. As a member of The Heritage Dancers, George offers a free monthly interactive program where visitors get an opportunity to learn the art of 18th-century dance. He selflessly donates his personal time, occasionally taking leave from work, to be a part of Brandywine’s public programming and to educate youth and adult visitors in support of the site’s mission. The 18th century comes alive as participants in these programs experience a small piece of the lives of those who worked, fought, and died to found the United States of America.

Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society
Maxine Ruble
Maxine Ruble began her professional life as an elementary school teacher and later became a nurse. In the late 1980s, she began volunteering at Bushy Run as a Native American reenactor and transitioned four years ago into a broader role in the 250th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Bushy Run. Maxine also began volunteering at the front desk and the museum store. Seeing a need to add to children’s experiences at the site, Maxine worked with the board to create the Education Committee. Under her guidance, the committee started a summer living history day camp, which rotates through military, Native American, and colonial themes. Parties at harvest time and Christmas entertain and educate children. Throughout the summer, Maxine offers summer craft classes for children, featuring finger weaving, paper making, dream catchers, and other fine crafts. She is currently working on a speaker series for the public and the membership. In addition, Maxine is a popular storyteller at local events, reads to children at the Delmont Public Library, makes beautiful outfits for reenactors, and bakes delicious cookies.

Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead
Anne Killeen
Anne Killeen has spent more than 20 years working in the development of nonprofit groups and grant writing. After years of driving by the Conrad Weiser Homestead, Anne attended the Annual Candlelight tour in November 2015. As she tells the story, she was “hooked.” She became a volunteer in April 2016 and joined the Friends Board of Directors later that year. But her involvement did not stop there. Anne began giving guided tours at the Homestead and did so in period-appropriate clothing. She attended the site’s first open-hearth cooking class and now spearheads the open-hearth cooking at Living History Sundays events. Coming full circle, Anne participated in one of the scenes for the 2017 Candlelight tour. As she fully admits, volunteering “was a snowball effect.” When asked about her interest in Conrad Weiser, Anne relates that she never knew the story of Conrad Weiser but now realizes that she wants to be a part of sharing this history with others.

Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace
Jim Polczynski
Jim Polczynski has been serving the best interests of Cornwall Iron Furnace invaluably and almost invisibly for many years. A tireless volunteer, he has willingly spent hours sifting through and organizing numerous boxes of site-related documents to create an accurate, accessible guide for others to use in their own quest for historical information. He created an annotated bibliography of and digitized the images in the Coleman archival collection that was donated by Elaine Ainsworth. His efforts have provided greater accessibility to this collection while protecting the originals from excessive handling. Jim has also emerged as a knowledgeable tour guide, carving regular time from his work schedule to be at the site. His first-person interpretation of ironmaster Robert Coleman applies a unique understanding of global circumstances to local conditions and provides a fresh perspective to the place of Cornwall Iron Furnace in world economics. Jim’s command of technology is much appreciated in research as well as website operations. He has recently agreed to serve as member-at-large on the Friends Board of Directors, and they are happy to have “Robert Coleman” at the Board table.

Friends of the Daniel Boone Homestead
Lori Schaeffer
As a volunteer, Lori Schaeffer has spent considerable time organizing her fellow volunteers for workdays to take care of the site’s garden and other areas of the Daniel Boone Homestead. She has also helped to provide financial support for the Homestead sheep, an important part of interpreting the 18th century on the site. As a volunteer open hearth cook, Lori organized and inventoried the reproduction cooking implements so that the cooks know what they have available for demonstrations. She served on the planning committee and worked to gather supplies and other items for the Homestead’s bee display at the Oley Fair, which earned a Blue Ribbon Award. She also served on the Christkindlmarket committee for the past two years, playing a key role in organizing the fundraising raffle and promoting the event in the community, including the wreath display at Glick's Greenhouse.

Friends of Drake Well, Inc.
Betty Cosper
Betty Cosper has been an avid supporter and advocate for the museum and Friends of Drake Well since 1998. During many of those twenty years, she has served on the Friends Board of Directors and as the organization’s Treasurer. Betty has been a driving force in the financial growth and stability of the Friends, most recently working to improve the organization’s Form 990 reporting and endowment management. Passionate about the Friends’ mission to support the site, Betty has played an integral part in planning for Drake Well’s future. She has participated actively on the museum’s strategic planning, interpretive, educational outreach, finance and fundraising, executive, nominating, and personnel committees. Moreover, Betty has focused her efforts on strengthening the partnership between PHMC and the Friends, regularly volunteering to attend both Council of Associate Presidents meetings and PANO training workshops. Betty is one of the first volunteers to step up when help is needed. She guides school tours and works almost every special event and educational program the museum hosts each year, setting up activities, taking admissions, assisting with sales, and more. Betty is always eager to help and her willingness to be a team player, her fantastic sense of humor, and her friendly, pleasant attitude work to boost the morale of staff and volunteers on a daily basis. When not volunteering, Betty regularly utilizes the recreational assets of the park with her loyal companion, Checkers

Eckley Miners’ Village Associates
Walter Gilbert
Wally Gilbert has served Eckley Miners’ Village with an exceptional commitment and good nature. In the time that he has been volunteering, he has gone above and beyond to further the mission and values of the museum. He has volunteered for all site events, in preparation and planning as well as on the event day. He interprets the site’s buildings, provides research assistance, and has helped tidy up the village. Wally also gives general and school tours nearly every day that they are offered and does not hesitate to fill in at a moment’s notice. He accumulated more volunteer hours than any other active volunteer in 2017 and has added exponentially to the visitor’s educational and leisure experience. He is knowledgeable about the general tour and adds his personal experience and research. Many visitors have complimented his efforts, raving about his natural ability to make them feel welcome and to educate them about the village in a way that stands out from the rest.