PHMC Volunteers of the Year for 2020-21 Part 2

Ephrata Cloister Associates
Bonnie Martin
Bonnie began her activities at the Ephrata Cloister by attending the Winter History Class and quickly recognized her interest in the site’s history and programs. She learned to lead tours and became active with presenting programs. Her bright personality and interest in the site soon found her as a member of the Ephrata Cloister Associates Board of Directors, and in 2020 she was elected as the group’s President. That is when Bonnie’s skills at leadership and business took charge during the challenge of the pandemic. Her fierce will and determination fueled the board into making the difficult decisions necessary to save the ECA. She spent countless hours each week, finding and working with a new bookkeeper. She brought a complex old-school financial management system into a modern, streamlined process that tightened spending and developed an efficient system to oversee investments, savings, and expenditures. This major adjustment to a key feature of the Associates operation required a commitment of hundreds of hours with paper, computer, and calculator to produce a bright future for the organization. In addition, she led a crew of garden volunteers who weeded, mulched, and planted the kitchen garden and the flowerbeds that brighten the landscape of the Cloister. We thank her for her untiring commitment to the Ephrata Cloister.

Flagship Niagara League
Bruce Miller
Bruce joined the volunteer corps at the Erie Maritime Museum in 2018 and since that time has emerged as one of the museum’s most active and supportive volunteer staff members. Bruce primarily serves as a docent, greeting visitors to the museum and orienting them to the museum’s many exhibits and programs. He has been particularly involved in improving and expanding the hands-on activities that take place in the museum galleries, taking the lead in training his fellow docents. Bruce has also been an extremely supportive community advocate for the museum, working diligently to spread the word about the museum’s programming, to raise the museum’s community profile and increase local visitation and support. Bruce’s dedication to the museum knows no bounds, and he has already been hard at work preparing for the 2022 season. We are so grateful for Bruce’s incredible dedication to the museum and for his unfailing support.

Friends of Graeme Park
Melissa Kurek
Melissa started volunteering with Graeme Park while still in high school and is now at the 20-year mark. She serves as the Board’s recording secretary and will pitch in on any program in any capacity; our popular Christmas in the Colonies and Haunted Lantern Tours are her innovative ideas. When PHMC sites closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, Melissa started a fundraiser that brought the Friends more than $1,300 at a time that it was greatly needed. Most importantly, Melissa worked with the Board to update our bylaws during 2020, using all of our suggestions and making them coherent. This had been on our “to do” list for a long time, and Melissa tackled the job, producing a finished document for the Board’s review. The board approved her hard work, and the revised bylaws will be presented to the members of The Friends of Graeme Park for acceptance and resolution at our next annual meeting. We are extremely privileged to have Melissa Kurek as a 20-year veteran of Graeme Park’s volunteer base and hope we have her for another 20 years. 

Friends of Hope Lodge
Mark Matt
For more than five years, Mark has steadfastly and consistently supported Sunday tours as a tour guide. He is enthusiastic and engaging, always searching out new and interesting information about the times and the inhabitants who lived at Hope Lodge. Mark first became interested in Hope Lodge while driving past the site one day and seeing a sign asking for volunteers. He has always had a strong interest in history, especially the American Revolution and Colonial Period, and he felt a strong connection to Hope Lodge. Mark is a retired chemical engineer and has put his education and training to good use researching local history and the various residents of Hope Lodge that he includes in the tour. Mark started giving tours in the Spring of 2016 and his knowledge and patience are well regarded by the other volunteers and visitors. We have received many accolades from visitors who have taken his tours. Mark is an active volunteer, making himself available to support all the site’s events and programs, and he can be counted on to support special group tours. Everyone has been greatly impressed by his spirit of teamwork and willingness to lend a hand. We thank him for his outstanding service.

The Friends of Joseph Priestley House
Laurie McCants
Laurie has been a volunteer for the Joseph Priestley House Museum for many years. She is an important member of the board of directors and serves on the program/event committee. As a professional theater person, she uses her knowledge of costuming and production elements to elevate our events with both historical accuracy and dramatic effect. In addition, she serves as a docent and is a wonderful interpreter for the Priestley women’s roles in the house. In 2017 at Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Laurie directed the world premiere of Gunpowder Joe: Joseph Priestley, Pennsylvania, and the American Experiment, a play by Anthony Clarvoe. The production brought increased attention to Dr. Priestley and the world he inhabited, as well as the site of his American home and laboratory. We are grateful for Laurie’s efforts to bring the Priestley story to so many different audiences.

Landis Valley Associates
Bob Haas (2020) and Sharon Koziar (2021)
In 2018, as a volunteer with Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum’s Heirloom Seed Project, Bob Haas began the research for an 1880s flower garden that would complement the project’s Seed House. Using resources in the museum library, as well as other books, Bob compiled a list of appropriate plants and worked from old photos to design an arbor and fence to surround the garden. He drew up a plan for the garden and gave presentations to staff and museum members. He arranged for the donation of historic bricks to create borders around the flower beds. To frame the garden, a picket fence was built and painted. The “Just for Pretty” garden debuted in the summer of 2020, complete with a museum exhibit sign that provided historical context. Bob is currently developing a handout to share more of the history, including the fact that 1880s industrial innovations allowed women some spare time to have a garden just for flowers. Thank you, Bob, for your contributions to making the visitor experience at Landis Valley special.

Sharon joined Landis Valley as a collections management volunteer in 2021. She volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday for at least three hours each day, working independently or with a team of cataloguers. New to this type of work, she has enthusiastically researched to learn about the objects and cataloguing process. A major current project is to review and catalogue "found-in-collection" artifacts, which often involves opening boxes that have not been opened or reviewed for fifty years. Through this project, Sharon has worked with a wide variety of objects, including wallpaper, footwear, and stereograph cards. She has helped the curator identify artifacts to be deaccessioned and has improved our knowledge and tracking of the pieces retained for the collection. Sharon has also worked as part of a team to catalogue, photograph, and store 180 handwoven tablecloths, which has greatly expanded the knowledge available to visitors and researchers regarding Pennsylvania German tablecloths. We thank Sharon for her hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm and for her contribution to the collections management efforts of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum.

Friends of Old Economy Village
Ted McAuley, Joe Pulgini, and Warren Kinneer
Warren oversees the garden at the Baker House and assists with the Rapp House gardens, while Ted and Joe mainly volunteer in the Rapp House gardens. These three dedicated individuals have a wonderful sense of humor and never complain, even when doing the “grunt work” that needs to be done to make the gardens a thing of beauty. They assist historical horticulturalist Dean Sylvester with weeding, deadheading, stone and brick edging, flower planting and propagating, sowing grass seed and mulching. They prune hedges and grapevines throughout the Village, work in the Greenhouse, and assist with getting ready for special events. In the Spring of 2021, the grounds were in disarray because of a major construction project. Warren, Ted, and Joe restored and reestablished flower beds, sowed grass seed, assisted with the planting of new trees, and mulched these areas. These three not only work well with staff and other volunteers but enjoy interacting with the visitors who come to Old Economy Village. They are eager to answer questions and talk about the gardens. They are known to give away some free samples, creating an extra special touch for our guests. They are greatly appreciated for all the wonderful things they do and their willingness to go that extra mile to keep the site beautiful.