The recent annual banquet and volunteer awards event hosted by Fort Walla Walla Museum held forth with more than 75 guests, members, volunteers, staff and board members. The Museum honors its volunteers and acknowledges the most outstanding among them from the previous season.
The banquet featured food served by Carissa Bossini's Walla Walla Catering Company in the Grand Hall of the Museum's new Entry Hall & Exhibit Galleries.
Don Locati, operations manager, said Museum volunteers logged more than 12,000 hours last year. The total value of the 400-plus volunteers' contribution exceeded $250,000, using the federal volunteer rate of $20.85 per hour.
"We really could not do so many things for the people of the region without these remarkable people," Don said. "These are some of our community's finest ambassadors."
Volunteers perform a variety of tasks, as reflected in the number of awards distributed each year. In 2009, 11 of volunteers logged more than 1,650 hours each; one put in 312 hours of her own time. Awards were presented by Paul Franzmann, communications manager; Don Locati and Director James Payne.
Outstanding volunteer awards went to Millie Friday, building attendant; Toss Benefiel, docent; Fran Chase, office support; Bob and Vicki Shatzka, gardener; Ester Dixon, exhibits; Kathy Stritzel, collections management; Bob Bonstead, buildings and grounds maintenance; Kitty Mossey, Museum Store; College Intern Calli Nelson of Eastern Oregon University; and Living History, Vi Jones, who portrays pioneer woman Martha Roberts.
The Morris Ganguet Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award goes to a new participant who exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. The recipient is Kathy Stritzel, a new volunteer the year before who gave 201 hours of her time at the Museum in 2009.
The Gerwyn A. Jones Service Award is the Museum's equivalent of a 'lifetime achievement' award. It is presented to an individual who has participated in many phases of Museum activities for many years. Winner Vi Jones devoted countless hours for special events, Kids Camps, Living History, Gardens, as a docent and in Headquarters Support. She continues to be a mainstay in many areas, Paul said.
Though not a volunteer, Museum Collections Manager Laura Schulz was cited for contributions in producing 36 exhibit installations in the Museum's new structure. "Laura, Jim Klees (our 'Mr. Everything'), and the rest of the staff did a phenomenal job this past year as we got ready to open the new building," Don said. "However, each of us would acknowledge that we just couldn't do all this without the best volunteers in the world."
Keynote speaker Dr. Lee Sappington, professor of archaeology at the University of Idaho, spoke of work in uncovering the past at Fort Walla Walla, as well as performing work in the homelands of the Nez Perce people.
Lee is likely to become a consulting archaeologist within the Museum's new Historical Resources Services department that involves James Payne, Dr. Darby Stapp, Steve Roberts, Kara Pittman, Intern Alex Salzman, and volunteer Bob Bonstead.