Volunteer Services Alliance of Madison County

Location of organization in Madison County: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, Peterboro, NY

1. Who do you volunteer for? (What organization)

I volunteer at the Peterboro Mercantile, a community heritage gift shop at the Visitor Center for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

2. How long have you volunteered?

Four years. I started in 2009 when the Mercantile was part of a grant-funded project.

3. What makes you want to volunteer or what drew you to this organization?

My daughter talked me into going to a program. I learned about the project and got involved.

4. What is your background?

I have no education or background in merchandising or history, but it sounded interesting, so I helped.

5. What is your role here; what jobs do you do?

I am the “Chief Merchant.” I design and arrange the Mercantile space, order and process merchandise according to events and committees, maintain the records and budgets for the shop, manage the online shop, train and coach volunteer merchants and provide an income for the site from the shop.

6. What is it you like about this position and organization? What keeps you involved?

I like learning about the history of Peterboro, and meeting people; I like the people in the organization. It is the enormous amount of money and the vacation time that I get that keeps me involved. (Joke! Delivered with a big smile.)

7. What is something you have learned from volunteering here?

I have learned about the history of Peterboro.

8. Was there a specific person or event that triggered or caused you to want to volunteer?

My daughter Jody got me to attend an event.

9. Have you had a memorable experience as a volunteer and, if so, what has been your most memorable experience as a volunteer?

All has been memorable. The annual Civil War Weekend is the busiest event – and the most fun. It is memorable meeting people who come from outside of Peterboro to learn about the history.

10. Why do you think it is so important to volunteer here?

Because it is fun and I am learning.

11. What would you tell others to encourage them to volunteer?

Just come to a couple of programs, and it will get you interested.

12. How does volunteerism fit into your life?

Full time! It keeps me out of the garden. (Another joke.)

13. How do you incorporate your talent and passions into what you do?

Items in the heritage shop must be related to Peterboro history. I like looking for new items that link to Peterboro history. I like figuring out new arrangements for the store, and designing new layouts and ideas so people will return to the shop.

14. What does volunteerism give you that a paid position would not?

I can do as much or as little as I want to do.

15. What else do you love to do?

Outside of the heritage project, I like hanging out with my kids and grandkids. I also like beadwork.

16. When do you most actively volunteer? Certain seasons?

April to November

17. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We need more people to get interested in Peterboro and see what we are doing; we need more volunteers!

“When your committee reported on the volunteer spotlight, it was Tisha that I immediately considered to be the first interview. Tisha has single-handedly developed and sustained the Peterboro Mercantile at a creative and business level beyond the expected. Tisha’s clever ideas and work ethic have provided a class heritage shop on a shoestring budget. Due to her efforts, the Mercantile is bringing consistent income to the heritage projects during the summer season.”

Dot Willsey, Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, Peterboro

By martha

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