Jim with park staffer, Chris, during the Grand Opening
National Park Service, Weir Farm National Historic Site
Summer Volunteer Spotlight: Jim
Meet Jim, Weir Farm National Historic Site's featured volunteer for summer 2014. Jim began volunteering in spring of 2013, and since has proven to be exceptional; going above and beyond to make visitors' experiences enjoyable and helping mentor other volunteers. Jim started out greeting and orienting park visitors at the visitor center, and now regularly staffs the Weir and Young Studios as a Studio Docent Volunteer. Jim also volunteered for all of the special Grand Opening events that took place this year as the park opened the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio fully restored for the first time ever. Jim's can-do attitude, enthusiasm, and expert knowledge are just a few of the reasons he is this season's featured volunteer!
Although Jim loves all of the many volunteer tasks he does, his favorite time at Weir Farm NHS was the recent Grand Opening. Jim volunteered for all the special events, including the neighbor's preview, the Grand Opening Weekend, and the Official Grand Opening event, which was his most enjoyable volunteer moment. "Everyone there was interesting and had something to say. I learned more about the house that day than I could ever learn from reading. I got to chat with Weir and Young descendants, National Park Service experts, artisans who assisted in the restoration, and local people who worked to have Weir Farm become a National Historic Site."
Jim is one of the first volunteers to staff the Weir and Young Studios so they can be open to visitors after the many years of restoration. "I am excited about staffing the studios," he says. "Actually standing in the space where three generations of artists used their creativity to produce masterpieces is humbling. I can almost feel their presence in the buildings. I hope I can share this excitement with our visitors." Jim typically works Thursday afternoons, but you might find him in the studios providing great conversations about the park's stories anytime from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Thursday through Sunday when the studios are open to the public.
As a volunteer, Jim also enjoys meeting visitors and working with children through the Take Part in Art programs. Since he is a retired teacher having taught social studies for 35 years, Jim is a perfect fit to help out with the many youth and school groups that come to the park.
Jim's community involvement doesn't stop at Weir Farm NHS. He also volunteers at the Wilton Historical Society, especially when they have second and fourth grade programs. He gives tours of the Town Hall and dresses in colonial garb pretending to be a storekeeper in colonial Wilton, helping students understand what life was like in colonial days. Additionally, Jim assists with the book sales at the Wilton Library, and helps out as an assistant to the Registrar of Voters where he moderates polling locations during elections. Way to give back to the community, Jim!
As a Wilton resident since 1975, Jim has been visiting the park for over ten years. Being a long-time neighbor, he remembers wearing the "Save the Pond" and "Julian Weir Lives" buttons that were created during the campaign to preserve Weir Farm in the 1970s. As a visitor, Jim enjoys just being here at the park and spending time looking at the grounds. He loves this "perfect New England farm" with the rolling fields and stone walls.
Jim's two favorite places to visit are art museums and historic homes (which might be one of the reasons he was drawn to Weir Farm NHS!). As a child, his parents took wonderful family vacations all around the eastern US and visited lots of national parks. Since his father grew up in Poughkeepsie NY, the Home of Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Site is the national park Jim has visited the most. Although he is most comfortable visiting the FDR home and loves Weir Farm NHS, his favorite national park is actually the iconic Yellowstone National Park.
Jim plays a crucial role in the park's Volunteers-in-Parks program as a stellar studio staffer and an inspiration to other park volunteers. His dedication and his role to help open the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio this year have been invaluable to the park. We couldn't do it without you, Jim! Thanks for everything you do to support the park and give visitors the best experience possible!