Montclair resident Jan Hirakawa-Huddle was already a seasoned volunteer when she joined the volunteer staff at the Homestead Museum in January, 2015. There are no less than seven different activities and groups that Jan is involved with, and we are very grateful she added us to her repertoire. Once she joined the staff, she got right to work, getting her feet wet by helping with Behind-the-Scenes tours, and then working at our Romance of the Ranchos Festival in April. Jan did all of this while juggling her other volunteer jobs AND docent training at the Homestead. Even with her busy schedule, Jan manages to share her culinary talents with the Homestead staff, much to the delight of our taste buds. Operations Assistant, Steven Dugan, recently sat down with Jan to ask her a few questions.
How did you find the Homestead Museum and what made you want to volunteer here?
My brother suggested that I investigate the museum, and the rest is history. We grew up in the area and have long since moved away. My brother and I have been fascinated with the Temple family, yet knew very little about the Workmans. When I visited the Homestead, our docent asked if I would consider being a volunteer. Soon after sending in an interest card, I received a call and an e-mail.
Tell us why you find history so interesting?
It all began when I was younger and our parents would take us to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Natural History Museum. My father also located old maps of La Puente, Industry, and the surrounding areas and on the weekends we would take trips to sites located on the map. We were often disappointed because many of these places on the maps were no longer in existence. One of our successes, however, is that we did hunt down and tour the Phillips Mansion and Spadra Cemetery [both located in nearby Pomona]!
When you’re not giving your time at the Homestead, what are some of your other hobbies?
I enjoy creating crafts, helping with a “Kittie Rescue” organization, and taking cooking classes in Claremont. I am also a member of the Women’s Club of Claremont and I still enjoy giving time at the John Rains House in Rancho Cucamonga.
You recently finished docent training and began giving tours. Tell us about your experiences so far.
Giving tours has been interesting and fascinating because of the guests and staff. The few times I’ve given tours already has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Another interesting experience is learning about our visitors and why they came to the Homestead. Most visitors have their own reasons for taking a tour and it has been rewarding learning about some of those reasons.