Volunteers: The Hands that Make Us Stronger

Lila-XmasThey led visitors on tours. They scanned WPA oral histories. They shelved books. They catalogued rare photographic collections. They gussied up our filing system. They served cookies.

All in all, volunteers to the New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors in 2013 donated something like 5,300 hours of intelligence and hard work that helped make our institution stronger. For two comparisons:

A full-time employee puts in 1,920 regular hours a year. And, by rough estimate, the Independent Sector values those 5,300 hours of volunteer labor at $117,342.

Behind the numbers is something far more important: The names and faces, heads and hearts of people who brought us their best. That includes the museum guides who led 693 tours for 198 children and 5,634 adults. Library volunteers put in 973 hours, and Photo Archives volunteers logged another 900 hours.

Our two support groups went above and beyond previous years’ expectations. Los Capitanes members got us through Christmas at the Palace and Las Posadas, while Los Compadres del Palacio devised and took ownership of several programs that brought new audiences into the museum.

Children of our colleagues worked as Santa’s elves, local musicians donated performance time, and numerous businesses donated goods and services—including the Plaza Café’s generous help in heating up those monstrous vats of cider for our holiday events.

Other folks logged hours with the front-desk staff, providing affable welcomes to our visitors—the front line of great marketing. Some took photos at our events, or created hangers and hatboxes, or folded printer’s hats out of old newspapers.

Downtown Walking Tour guides not only gave their labor but collected a record $14,000 in fees to help support the museum. Our 15 expert guides gave 153 tours to 1,350 adults, 50 children and one dog.

“They say an army marches on its stomach, but a museum marches with the help of many volunteers,” Director Fran Levine said. “We are grateful beyond words for all they have done to make us stronger.”