PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2018 part 2

Ephrata Cloister Associates
Julia Murphy
When Julia Murphy began attending the Winter History Class at the Ephrata Cloister, she probably did not anticipate the opportunity to turn back the clock by several decades. Julia is a quiet person who sits off to the side in the room full of class members. Probably few people know she holds a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania and a second Master’s degree in American History. Or that her first professional job was as Curator of Photographs and Slides at the University of North Carolina. That’s what brought the story full circle. Julia spent almost two years scanning the nearly 1,500 slides and photographs in the Ephrata Cloister library, preserving the images digitally and making them easily searchable and reproducible for staff and scholars. Each Thursday morning the buzz of the scanner could be heard from the cubicle she occupied as she scanned, four slides at a time, bringing the project to conclusion late last year. In addition to working behind the scenes with the photographs, Julia also dons period clothes and sits behind a spinning wheel for special programs. Her sparkling eyes and gentle manner pull in even the youngest visitor as she shows how fibers become thread.

Flagship Niagara League
Mary Kay Sanner
Mary Kay Sanner began volunteering at the Erie Maritime Museum in 2015 and brought her organizational and people skills from being a nurse to our Volunteer Corps. Not only does she gladly volunteer as a regular Wednesday Morning Shift Guide, she also volunteers for other special events, support committees, and school outreach and Hands-On programming. Mary Kay was part of the Tall Ships 2019 Working Group that began two years ago, looking at issues, operations, and solutions ahead of this year’s Tall Ships event, and she is volunteering to bring our Hands-On Seabag Program to schools throughout Erie County. She is always ready to pitch in to help out wherever needed, from decorating the museum for holidays to being a Guide at many of our public programs, such as The Christmas Tree Ship or Tall Ships. Her counsel has proved invaluable on numerous occasions. She has a way of taking a complex situation and boiling it down to its essentials, allowing us to implement a solution more easily and simply. Since joining the museum’s Guide & Greeter Corps in 2016, Mary Kay has put in over 1,000 hours and was recently inducted as a life member of the Forster Society, which recognizes volunteers who contribute at least 75 hours a year.

Friends of Graeme Park
Steven Griffith
Steve Griffith, new to Pennsylvania from Minnesota, came to Graeme Park one Sunday early in 2015, offered his volunteer services, and has proven to be one of the most valuable and influential people that Graeme Park has had the pleasure to call their own. Steve buried himself in the history of the site and was up and running as a docent within weeks. With a Ph.D. in theater, Steve was wonderful in a reenactor role, but more importantly, he aggressively recruited and trained new volunteers, outfitting them and showing them how to play a part. He initiated our Living History Sunday program and coordinated volunteers and speakers to offer the public a very informative afternoon; our attendance on those days rose 200%. Steve trained many new volunteers to be tour guides and filled the ranks in an area where Graeme Park was lacking. He spent countless hours with each person, assuring their knowledge was up to par and that they worked well with the public. Steve was also instrumental in writing guidelines for volunteers, updating the school tour website, and adding new guides. He did a wonderful job on house tours, kitchen tours, quill writing, chores, and games. Sadly, Steve was transferred back to Minnesota in November of 2018. We are honored to have had him with us for the three short years he was able to give to us.

Friends of Hope Lodge
Coleen Bant
Coleen Bant, a certified teacher at a local school, joined Hope Lodge as a volunteer in 2016 to help cultivate her minor in history. She was initially drawn by the site’s rich heritage but quickly got involved with all the activities at the site. When the former museum shop manager left the position, Coleen quickly stepped up to fill the void. She says she enjoys working in the museum shop because she is able to talk with the visitors and answer their questions. She also enjoys working with the other volunteers and can be counted on to be on site for our events and Sunday tours. In addition to her management of the museum shop, Coleen is an amazing cook. Her baked goods are both scrumptious and exquisite and enjoyed by visitors and volunteers alike. Coleen also gives her time as an active member of the board of directors and provides sound guidance on all matters, but especially the development of programming for children. She is the chairperson for our annual movie night with Whitemarsh Township Parks and Recreation and an enthusiastic member of the Holidays at Hope Lodge committee, where she lends her considerable creative talent to decorating the mansion for the Christmas holidays.

The Friends of Joseph Priestley House
Sam Geise
Sam Geise has been crucial to the success of the Priestley House for a number of years but has particularly made significant contributions to the site in this past year. Sam took the lead on securing WiFi internet for our Visitor Center, which has allowed our volunteers to access vital web pages and information while on site. Sam also took the lead in reaching out to a local CPA and helping our site obtain QuickBooks financial software. These two steps have allowed our site to totally revamp how we record our finances. Sam has always been present at our four big events each year, performing the role of docent to keep the story of Joseph Priestley alive. A number of years ago, Sam was instrumental in reviewing flood levels at the house and working with surveyors to determine that the Priestley House is out of the normal flood zone, which has saved volunteers countless hours and kept the exhibits out of harm’s way. The Priestley House is sad that Sam will be finishing out his second term on the Board but looks forward to the many more insights that Sam will provide to help the site thrive.

Landis Valley Associates
Sharon O'Neal-Lehner and Dawn Snyder
Since June of 2016, Sharon O’Neal-Lehner and Dawn Snyder have consistently volunteered two days a week as members of the Physical Collections Inventory Team at Landis Valley. Together, they have donated more than 1,700 hours to this effort. Having mastered the roles of caller (pulling and describing objects) and recorder (entering information in the inventory spreadsheet), Sharon and Dawn are able to operate with little direct supervision and have also assisted with training new inventory team members. They have played a pivotal role in allowing the Inventory Team to inventory over 18,000 artifacts, from Conestoga Wagons to microscope slides, housed in the multi-story Landis Collections Gallery and in six outbuildings. In addition to their work with the collections inventory, both Sharon and Dawn have jumped in when needed during “all hands-on deck” situations, such as assisting with several annual programs and packing and unpacking collections during the recent fire suppression system replacement project.

Friends of Old Economy Village
Cynthia Pagesh
Cynthia Pagesh is a passionate volunteer in the gardens at Old Economy Village. Her dedication to the grounds and their functional beauty is unparalleled. A recent graduate of the Bidwell Training Center Horticulture Technology Program, Penn State Master Gardener, and captivating gardening lecturer, Cyn spends her time at Old Economy caring for the innumerable plants grown here and delighting guests and staff alike with her uncanny ability to identify, describe, and utilize any living piece. This must be par for the course for her, as she is the coordinator of the Herb Society in our gardens and is our contact for the other Master Gardeners in our area. No stranger to undertaking new projects, Cyn has singlehandedly designed the children’s garden at the Kinderhaus, crafted event-specific bouquets for Erntedankfest weekend and the unveiling of the remodeled Wine Cellar, and helped to assemble beautiful wreaths for the Christmas Dinner. She has been a speaker at our Spring Garden Seminar and has taught classes in our gardens on native plants and seasonal maintenance. Her enthusiasm and respect for horticulture is truly everlasting.