The Museum of the Albemarle is a regional museum in North Carolina. Stunning in appearance, the building has an auditorium, a kitchen, classrooms and exhibit areas that are bright and airy. For the past five years the temporary exhibit has been their Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit, Under Two Flags. The education director is Lori Meads. She’s friendly, cheerful, energetic, and very knowledgeable. At the close of an event in 2012, where I spoke and spent the day chatting and signing, Lori asked if I’d come with her to meet some special people. We went to an after school program for girls. It was like a Girl Scout meeting every day, with crafts, friends, help with homework, whatever was needed. The girls asked about being a writer; we talked about books and writing. I left Avery & Gunner books for their library. It was obvious they knew Lori well, and she knew all their names. She was a regular volunteer and often hosted them at the museum. Lucky girls to have a mentor like Lori.
The Port O Plymouth Museum is a small museum that the entire town rallies around. Their events are well-attended and the museum director, Kim, has a cadre of loyal volunteers. Outgoing and always wearing a smile, I think she knows everyone in town; it’s obviously a pleasure for them to work with her. To grow a small museum in a papermill town takes good management, PR, and finance skills. Kim is a treasure.
I recently met John Hughes, the Site Manager of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Like every museum manager I know, John loves his job. John said the summer before his senior year in high school, he told his dad he’d decided not to go to college, but get a job and buy a car instead. The next day his dad drove the pickup truck home filled with boxes and cans of bleach, ladders and all kinds of stuff. He asked his dad what he was going to do with all that. He said, “I’m not doing anything. But you’re going to wash the house.” After a few weeks of John washing, the truck came home filled with paint cans and brushes. When it was about time for school to start, he’d finished painting the farm house. He asked his dad if he was going to be paid. “Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve been figuring up the hours at minimum wage.” He handed him $300. “That’s it?” John said. “Well, that and a big thank you,” his dad said. “Also, you’ve had your insurance, meals and room that you didn’t have to pay for. Thanks for a good job.” Before graduation came around John decided to continue his education. “Who knew it would turn out like this?” he said smiling at me.
I love the museums and being part of their events. They are all different, and all wonderful. I’m so glad kids have access to them and to the inspiring community leaders and volunteers working there.