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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Wonderful Way to Spend My Days!

By Rebecca Landin, Sauder Village Volunteer

My dream as a youngster was to teach history. I eventually did teach but it was Spanish and English.   However, for the last 16 years I have had the pleasure of doing what I had once dreamed of but in an even more exciting way.  It all started because I am a rug hooker. I make traditional hooked rugs as they were made in the 1800s and I attended the first rug week at Sauder Village years ago. I was excited to see that they wanted volunteers to demonstrate the art in the Village (and in period dress!)  And so, I threw together an outfit and signed up immediately to spend part of that first week sitting in the Village Green sharing my craft. That was my introduction to Sauder Village and all the opportunities available to volunteers.  Before long I was coming throughout the season and had a regular spot on the Mennonite House porch.  Needless to say, that first outfit was soon replaced with one that was a little bit more historically accurate and today you will often find me in the summer kitchen of the Stuckey farm.  What a wonderful way to spend my days!  No phones, no demands—just a day of rug hooking and sharing my passion with others.
The guests are always appreciative of the opportunity to learn not just about my rugs, but also about the past as it comes alive in the Village. The children are especially fun as they are never afraid to ask questions or to try their hand at “helping” me with my rug. It is gratifying to know that I am able to give them some insight into life as it was for their ancestors. But they aren’t the only guests that make my days special.  I love sharing stories with the older guests and listening to them reminisce. Every time I hear one of them say “I remember when…” I know another great story is on its way. What a wealth of information they have to share! And every year when a guest steps up and says “I remember you!  You told me about….” it only reminds me that we do make a difference here. Our international guests add another dimension as we discover together that people around the world really share a great deal. While the culture may be different, the needs have always been the same and it is an adventure to discover how the challenges our ancestors faced were also faced by others around the world. 

The guests are not the only reason the volunteer experience at Sauder Village is such a treat. I have met and worked with many other volunteers and staff members over the years. While we don’t have much time to just sit and visit I have developed some wonderful relationships. I have attended workshops to learn more about our history and have had access to the library. I have learned skills and been exposed to things that I would never had experienced if I had not signed up to be a part of the Sauder Village family. And would it be a surprise to mention that I can use my “work” days as an excuse to enjoy just one more item from the Sweet Shoppe or Ice Cream Parlor? 

 My volunteering has expanded with time. I have helped many children (and a few adults!) make corn husk dolls. I work at the Information Table at special events like the Quilt Show and the Woodcarver’s Show and, of course, I am involved with the Rug Hooking Week each year. I have even learned to scan items into the computer program for the museum project (talk about “teaching an old dog new tricks”)!   What a thrill to see up close some of the items in the collection! And I know if I lived closer and had more time there are a lot more opportunities I could take advantage of.

As a retired school teacher I am grateful for my experience as a volunteer. It isn’t just something to help me fill the time.  It is an opportunity for growth—in knowledge and skills, in friendships, and in feeling that the best is yet to come!

GET INVOLVED!  Are you inspired by Rebecca’s involvement at Sauder Village? We’d love to welcome you to the Sauder Village family as well! To learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you can get involved yet this season give us a call at 800.590.9755 or visit our Volunteer Page

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