A Volunteer is Born
April is National Volunteer Month. To mark the occasion, we are sharing posts by some of the Virginia Historical Society’s dedicated Volunteer Guild. This week we hear from Sharon Lane who has been helping our Operations Division at Virginia House, a Tudor house museum owned and operated by the VHS.
I never would have thought that attending a December tea and tour would lead to volunteering at the Virginia House; but that is exactly what happened. It was my first tour of the house, and I just knew that I wanted to keep coming back. I think it was a combination of the Weddell’s story and the house itself. At the end of the tour, my friend and I were the last to leave, and something prompted me to ask Site Manager Tracy Bryan if she could use some volunteers. She said yes! A year and a half later we are still volunteering at the Virginia House and enjoying every minute of it.
Although we have done other things at the house, our main task is creating an inventory of the Weddell’s books in the library, bedrooms, and hallway. Because there are about ten thousand books in the collection, we certainly have a challenging, but interesting task. I don’t know if we will ever finish the inventory ourselves, but we will pass on what we’ve done to the next volunteers! We’ve inventoried the books in the Weddell’s bedrooms and are now working on the front wall of the library. The Weddells used some books as scrapbooks, putting things of significance in books that had meaning to both of them. We found pictures of the Weddell’s dogs along with their papers in a book in Mrs. Weddell’s room. We found the couple’s wedding announcement along with a sprig of dried flowers in a poetry book in the library. There is a set of Robert Browning’s poetry in Mr. Weddell’s bedroom in which each volume is signed and dated by the poet himself. We never know what we will find each time we work on the inventory, but we know we will probably find something that provides more insight into the lives of the couple.
I’ve had the opportunity to do other things besides the book inventory at Virginia House. I helped with the Girl Scout program and summer camp and helped decorate the house for Christmas. I’ve also assisted with a few tours, including the Christmas Gingerbread Tea. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve done.
I love volunteering at the Virginia House because of two very special people, Tracy and Kathryn, both of whom are talented, hard working individuals who keep the Weddell’s story alive by finding creative ways to utilize their house and gardens. I don’t think the Virginia Historical Society could find two better people to do this job. Although the Weddell’s dream of having their house become the headquarters for the VHS never materialized, I think they would be happy to see their house used for such varied purposes and enjoyed by so many people. I hope to volunteer for many years to come. After all, we have to at least try to finish that book inventory!
Periodically the Virginia Historical Society will post content created by guest writers. The opinions expressed are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Virginia Historical Society, its members, or its staff. The Virginia Historical Society encourages discussion; however, we reserve the right to remove comments that are offensive, threatening, or insulting.