by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In order for the Homestead to carry out its mission of “creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles,” the museum relies heavily on volunteers. These dedicated advocates give tours, care for our collections and buildings, assist with administrative work of all kinds, and provide a great deal of support for our programs from festivals to workshops to lectures and much more.
While we strive regularly to remind our volunteers of how important and valued they are to the museum’s success, we look forward to the formal thanks we give at our annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner, held in the first part of April. Coming on the heels of National Volunteer Week, which is from the 15th to the 21st this year, the dinner not only allows us to express our appreciation to volunteers, but gives them an opportunity to see and socialize with each other.
In the past, we often held these events at other sites, but in recent years we’ve decided that there is no better setting at which to have the dinner than in the beautiful ambience of the west lawn adjacent to La Casa Nueva. With a large tent providing cover from the breezy conditions in what was a gorgeous day, the event went over quite smoothly.
The food, for the second year in a row, was made by Primal Alchemy, a Long Beach-based caterer, and they worked their magic again, starting with an excellent variety of hors d’oeuvres, including an onion tart with gorgonzola mousse, a chilled spring pea soup, and garlic shrimp blue corn tostaditos. Dinner included an organic artisan bread with a homemade olive tapenade, Caesar salad, slow braised boneless short ribs, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables. Dessert featured a German chocolate tart with salted caramel and pistachio and a Meyer lemon curd tartlet with raspberry.
A great activity was the playing of an Old Spanish Trail-themed game, devised by Public Programs Assistant Isis Quan, in which players were travelers over the commercial and migrant route from New Mexico to Los Angeles and faced health-related challenges along the way. Unfortunately, a great many of our volunteers failed to survive the rigors of the route, while others ranged from hale and hearty to skeletal stragglers, but survived nonetheless!
While we recognize those volunteers who reached milestones of hours served and years worked, it is always important to let everyone know they are valued regardless of how many hours they’ve given or years they’ve volunteered. This year, we gave our certificates, plaques and potted plants to the following volunteers for hitting those milestones, including Mary Rabago for 300 hours of service; Thiew Chin, Bethanie LaFond, and Marcy Moreno for 1,000 hours; Tony Ciarriocco for 2,500 hours; Janet Austin for 20 years of service; and Josette Temple for 25 years.
Our Volunteer Appreciation Day team did a great job in planning and carrying out the event and all of our paid staff assisted in various ways. We appreciate the work our volunteers do every day, but, on this special day, we get to pull out all the stops in showing them just how much we are thankful for all they do!