Volunteers Matter

   Today Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) hosted a class of Grade 11 students from one of our local high schools. A question posed to us during a conversation with the group was, “What are the most significant challenges of operating the museum?” The answer to this common question is “money and volunteers.” We need money to operate the museum, and in order to be frugal with the limited dollars available to us, we try to get as much work as possible done by volunteers. Volunteers have only so much time and energy to give and are in high demand by other organizations as well. So MHV’s invitation to potential volunteers needs to add attractive value to their lives.

   People living in this part of Manitoba are regularly made aware of numerous opportunities to volunteer their time and talents to worthy causes. Many organizations including schools, churches, sports teams, and various other charities are dependent on volunteer labour. Most of these organizations would not be able to pay for the skilled labour they need and still make ends meet. Our community has a wealth of individuals who know the value of volunteering and who willingly participate in one or more causes.

   MHV offers many varied options to anyone who wants to volunteer. Some people make themselves available for a three-hour shift during one of our major festival days (Canada Day, Pioneer Days, or Fall on the Farm) to help cook in the Short-Order Booth, supervise parking, sell tickets, provide demonstrations of heritage skills, or other similar tasks. Some volunteers come once a week to work on a task like mowing lawns or maintaining gardens. Others enjoy coming almost daily in May and June to support our Education Program, as up to 200 school children per day visit us on their field trips. These Education Program volunteers function as historical interpreters in various of our heritage buildings, drive the team for our horse-drawn wagon rides, or teach the children how to bake Schnetje.

   There are some significant benefits to volunteering at MHV. These include an opportunity to meet new people, a warm satisfaction that comes with serving one’s community, a free Season Pass to our museum, and a 50% discount on a meal in our Livery Barn Restaurant on the day that one is volunteering. That’s a pretty good value proposition.

   Our current list of volunteers includes over 300 names. These people range in age from 14 to 84, and perhaps even a little older. There are tasks suitable for this entire age range. We are thankful for each one who willingly helps with any of these tasks. Because no one can volunteer forever, we are particularly thankful when new volunteers join us to step in for those who are no longer able to participate.

   We will be hosting a Volunteer Orientation event on Thursday, April 26, at 7:00 PM in the MHV Auditorium. This will be a time for existing volunteers to be briefed on regulations and procedures for our upcoming season. It will also be a time for new and potential volunteers to learn more about the many various opportunities that exist here and to connect with our staff members.

   Please consider checking out what we have to offer at MHV. If you are unable to attend and would like to know more about volunteering at MHV please check out our website at www.mhv.ca or call 204-326-9661 and ask to talk with Robert Goertzen. A community with many volunteers is a healthier community.

Calendar of Events

April 19 – 7:00PM, Auxiliary Film Night: Seven Points on Earth

April 26 – 7:00PM, Volunteer Orientation

May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village

May 12 – 9:00AM–5:00PM, Manitoba Day

May 13 – 11:30AM–2:30PM, Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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