Posted on March 6th, 2017 by Rachel
Erika Rief has been a volunteer docent at the JMM for two months. She is currently in graduate school at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and MICS pursing an MBA/MA in design Leadership. Erika was an education and programming intern for two months during college. She recently moved back to Baltimore and lives close by so she decided to become a docent again. Prior to that, she attended Beth Tfiloh for 18 years.
She has deep connections to Jewish Baltimore, and specifically B’nai Israel Synagogue. Her great great uncle Simon Reif was the president of B’nai Israel in the congregation’s early days for 25 years. In addition, B’nai Israel was the shul that her great grandfather attended when he first came to America. She now attends Bnai Israel regularly, and is active in building the young adult community. She believes it is really special to be able to be a docent who has a connection to both the past and present of a part of the tour. Apart from going to school and being involved in B’nai Israel, she has also recently started boxing.
Erika has had a couple of memorial experiences while at the JMM. When she was an intern, she searched in the archives for mention of her family. She fould some of the founding documents of B’nai Israel in the original Yiddish with the names of her family families. She was also excited to learn about Zelda, who visited the museum with her assisted living facility. It turned out that Zelda’s father opened a pharmacy on Lombard Street. However, he died when Zelda was very young so she didn’t know a lot of information about him. Erika later dug into some family history records and then went to the assisted living to share what she found with her. Erika will never forget Zelda’s bubbly personality and the happiness on her face during their conversations about her father.
Making friends on tour
Erika has quickly re-learned the tour script and has already taken a few groups out on her own. We are very grateful that she has been able to carve out time for us in her busy schedule.
If you know of anyone else who would like to volunteer with Erika as a docent (or in any other area of the Museum), please contact Sue Foard at email@example.com.
Post by Visitor Services Coordinator Graham Humphrey. Every month we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443-973-5162! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.
Posted on February 13th, 2017 by Rachel
Shelly Mintz has been a Front Desk Volunteer for about a month at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. While growing up in New Jersey, Shelly has spent most of her life in Maryland. Shelly shared with me that her mom worked in Stone’s Bakery which was right around the corner from the JMM. After becoming a member of B’nai Israel Synagogue three years ago, she took a docent led tour of our two historic synagogues. It was there that she found out about volunteer opportunities at the JMM. Shelly decided to join our volunteer corps because she loves museums and was also looking to meet people with similar interests. While she is not related to Rabbi Mintz of B’nai Israel, she thought the fact that they shared the same last night was also a good sign to become involved at our museum.
Shelly works as an Assistant Attorney General and represents the Department of Juvenile Services. When she is not at the JMM, she ushers at local theaters, volunteers at the Walters Art Museum, travels to exotic locations like New Zealand and Australia and is a passionate animal rights activist.
Although Shelly has only volunteered a few times so far, she has quickly learned our new ticketing system and has been very good with our visitors. She also helped us by conducting evaluations of our last exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. As it has sometimes been difficult finding volunteers for Sundays (one of our busiest days), we were particularly excited that Shelly was interested in volunteering on that day. While at the JMM, Shelly likes how people often start talking to her about their lives and experiences. Whether it was a genealogy researcher who was thrilled to explore the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and see where his family came from or visitors who come back with joy in their eyes after going on a Synagogue tour, Shelly has found the JMM to be a unique museum that allows people to reconnect with their heritage on both an intellectual and emotional level.
If you know of anyone else who would like to volunteer with Shelly at the Front Desk (or in any other area of the Museum), please contact Sue Foard at email@example.com.
Post by Visitor Services Coordinator Graham Humphrey. Every month we highlight one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, send an email to Sue Foard at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-732-6402 x220! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.
Posted on January 30th, 2017 by Rachel
Ilene Cohen established the role of Volunteer Coordinator 12 years ago and was in charge of volunteer recruitment, volunteer retention, scheduling and interviews. During that time, she did an amazing job growing our volunteer corps, making sure that our volunteer’s skills were well utilized and planning exciting field trips. This past summer, Ilene decided it was time to leave the JMM to pursue other activities. As it turned out that Ilene’s job was too big for any one person to take on, so Sue Foard, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, and I decided it was best to split her duties amongst ourselves.
A helpful resource
As I have not had much experience managing volunteers, I decided it was important to learn as much I can about Volunteer Management. I have read books such as Transforming Museum Volunteering by Ellen Hirzy and Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Museums by Kristy Van Hoven and Loni Wellman. I have also joined the American Association for Museum Volunteers and attended volunteer-related sessions at the American Alliance of Museum’s Annual Conference last year.
Former volunteer Sydney at the front desk
Part of my duties now includes sending out monthly calendars and scheduling our docents, front desk volunteers and shop volunteers. I am also continuing Ilene’s tradition of writing monthly Volunteer Spotlights where I highlight our dedicated volunteer corps. So far I have profiled individuals such as Ernie Silversmith who volunteers as a docent, Carol Buckman who assists us in Esther’s Place, and Vera Kastenberg who volunteers in the Library.
Volunteer Ernie begins a synagogue tour.
Lately, we’re been working on making our volunteer program even better. Several of my colleagues recently sat down to try to brainstorm new projects that our volunteers could tackle as well as think of other organizations we could contact to recruit more volunteers. We are in the early stages of planning for a spring fieldtrip to other area museums. I have also started working on a marketing project with two of our docents, Bev Rosen and Wendy Davis, to try to encourage adult groups that have visited the JMM in the past five years, to plan a return trip to see one of our upcoming exhibits. Bev and Wendy have been instrumental in contacting local synagogues, churches and senior homes and recommending other organizations we should reach out to.
Volunteer Judy hard at work reorganizing and sprucing up our library.
Devan Southerland, our Office Manager and Shop Assistant, has also graciously agreed to help us with recruitment and outreach. In an effort to enrich our guests with a variety of experiences during their visit, our goal is to reach out to a myriad of outlets for volunteers from local community centers to senior groups. We are in the beginning stages of working with other downtown cultural attractions such as the Maryland Science Center to create a core group of volunteers that work not only with us but with capabilities to work at other museum sites around the city. While we have a lot of work of ahead of us, we’re very excited to expand our volunteer base at the JMM.
A blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.