Sanders: Summer is here — time to volunteer
South Dakota may well be the leader in volunteers per capita of any state (For those of you who want facts, figures, and statistics you may as well quit reading now, as you won’t find any proof of the first statement). I just know that in South Dakota volunteers make the world work.
We are so used to volunteering and so many of us do it, that we may not notice the workers nor the work that gets done. A core group of paid employees may be the ones who keep things running smoothly and plan the overall operation of a facility but it is the volunteers who do much of the work.
Among the volunteers at a museum may be those who staff the admission desk. They are the museum ambassadors who greet people and set the tone for their visit. Customer service is the name of the game and it is uplifting to see it in action.
Museum volunteers are a special type of people. They interact with visitors, find out where they come from and inform them of the exhibits. The hospitality continues with maps and answers to requests for information. It is important to let public know they are appreciated and welcome.
Nearly every town has some type of museum and they all need volunteers. Especially in smaller towns, the museums are open seasonally and that is when the extra help is so needed.
Custer, S.D.’s 1880 Courthouse Museum needs 40 volunteers for their seven-day-per-week schedule that includes evening hours. Hot Springs, S.D., has the Pioneer Museum and Edgemont, S.D., is home to the Trails, Trains and Pioneers Museum. Even people who are new to the areas are welcomed and, in fact, that would be a great way to learn about a new community’s history and meet its residents.
Not all volunteers are frontline though. There are master gardeners who take on the responsibility of planting, nurturing and labeling plants that thrive in this climate and removing the weeds that sneak in. Such groups often label the plants and wandering through the grounds encourages individuals to try new plants in home landscaping or just learn about them.
The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota, located inside the Hill City Visitor Center has volunteers with a direct correlation, including a CCC man who served in S.D. He is also a World War II veteran, as the CCC predated the war.
These museums are run by volunteer boards, which seek new members. Some people find volunteerism suits them so well that they do it their entire lives; others have already burned out. Many people who did not have time to volunteer when they were working full-time and caring for their families full-time, are now retired or at least slowed down to the point where they can “give back,” as they call it.
All of these volunteers — and indeed volunteers anywhere — have one major thing in common. They are passionate about their cause.❖