Volunteers from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum donated over 21,000 hours in 2016 to help with maritime research, building and artifact preservation, improving the visitor experience and teaching others at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc.
Volunteers are the heart of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, and on Thursday, March 9, the Museum had the chance to honor them. Many of their dedicated volunteers and staff gathered at the historic St. Francis Barracks Officer’s Club to celebrate the Lighthouse volunteers who donated over 21,000 hours in calendar year 2016.
Executive Director, Kathy A. Fleming opened the evening up by thanking the volunteers for all that they do for the Museum and assuring them “You are deeply loved.” Fleming then introduced Peter Spiller, Chairperson of the Board. Spiller congratulated the group for “making the organization stronger with their many talents and comprehensive experience.” Board Member Maury Kaiser was also in attendance, as were many other volunteer boat builders, docents, preservationists and conservation volunteers who give their time to teach children, clean the Museum, preserve the site, or work with underwater artifacts.
Volunteer & Events Manager Loni Wellman, gave a certificate to each volunteer calling out the hours donated individually. Katey Anderson represented the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, whose members still give 10 hours each, every year to the Lighthouse, a Legacy project of the league. Hours given are all appreciated and started with only 9 hours a person. Wellman and the staff offered a warm note of thanks and if wanted, a hug. The volunteer in attendance with the most hours given this year was William Mai with 440 hours. Any volunteer who gives over 40 hours receives a free Museum Membership. The Museum has 253 volunteers of all ages, and also works with corporate and school volunteer programs.
According to the National Value of Volunteer Time, the number of hours contributed by St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum volunteers in 2016 has a cash value of $512,312.00, if the Museum were to pay for those same services. It is really much more than that for us, said Fleming. “You cannot replace the love and care and passion our volunteers bring to us for any amount of money.” Wellman added, “Volunteerism also brings wellness to people of all ages because it builds true friendships and a sense of community engagement.” She continued, “Lighthouse volunteers take part in many tasks at the Museum, from scientific diving on shipwrecks to leading tours around the historic site to helping in the office. There is a job fit for everyone.” Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum can contact Loni Wellman at LWellman@staugustinelighthouse.org or (904) 829-0745, ext 213.