Volunteers are vital to the day-to-day operations of Washington Crossing Historic Park. From special event support to tours, education and reenactments, volunteers help us provide thousands of visitors each year with a truly special experience.
Every April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we recognize several individuals and organizations who have helped us deliver upon our mission over the past year. Please join us in celebrating our 2023 honorees:
Volunteer of the Year – Mary Jane Beck
Mary Jane Beck is an integral part of the park’s volunteer program, and her contributions are many. Throughout 2019, she ran the Toys and Games Station for schoolchildren participating in the park’s Colonial Days school programs. A self-taught fifer, she was one of the earliest members of the park’s Fife and Drum Corps and joins the Corps at most of the park’s major events. Mary Jane contributed nearly 120 volunteer hours in 2022.
“I was quite surprised and honored to receive this award. I live in the area and was looking for a means of volunteering that would incorporate my own interests, which included preserving our history and trying to learn from it. I always borrow a line from the musical, Hamilton, and say that we live in “the room where it happened!”
I began volunteering at Colonial Days several years ago doing toys and games with the school children or sometimes it was quill pen writing or butter churning. Then, about five years ago, I saw a notice that the park was forming a Corps of Fife and Drummers. I have always loved music and I thought this would be a great mental challenge for me to learn an instrument like the fife. With much practice, that goal has been achieved. I’m so proud to be associated with this group of fun and talented people, who are tremendously dedicated to doing their best to represent the park.
I honestly say that I have received far more from the park than I have given. The events at the park have become part of my life and it has been my great fortune to volunteer here. Thank you for acknowledging any small role I have played to be helpful in keeping history alive.”
Rising Star – Bill Fox
Bill Fox began volunteering at the park in early 2020, just before the pandemic lockdown. When restrictions were lifted, he was one of the first volunteers to come back. For the past two years, Bill has led tours in the park every Thursday afternoon and is one of the first to volunteer for the park’s public programs. In 2022, he learned how to run various stations so he could help at the park’s Colonial Days school program. Bill contributed nearly 100 volunteer hours in 2022.
“I was surprised, honored and very humbled to receive this award. I’ve never won an award or been recognized like this. A job transfer brought me to this area in 2004 and I told myself I would work at the park one day. I love history and what better place to start…to actually be on the same site where George Washington was!
I love giving tours, meeting folks, and working with the park staff. I’m always amazed to learn where they come from. I feel honored that many come long distances to visit our park, sometimes from outside the U.S.
I also enjoy volunteering at our special events. You get to meet a lot of great folks, both those who are volunteering and those who are attending. My favorite question when working at the admission table is, ‘Where are you from?’ I get that question because my Texas accent tends to creep in a bit.”
Junior Volunteer of the Year – Brandon Fey
High-school student Brandon Fey first reached out to the park in 2021 in hopes of finding volunteer opportunities for the Historic Preservation Society of Holy Ghost Prep. Beginning with 2021’s First Crossing, Brandon has brought the Historic Preservation Society to many of the park’s public programs. Throughout the summer of 2022, he worked at the Visitor Center front desk. Brandon contributed nearly 40 volunteer hours in 2022 and the Holy Ghost Prep Historic Preservation Society contributed 48.
“I was elated to hear that I was honored with this award. I’ve always had a passion for history and was seeking a way to actively pursue my interest. I enjoy being involved with a site that is paramount in American history. My experience has prompted me to learn a great deal of history firsthand and has connected me with many fascinating people with a common passion.
I feel a special connection to the crossing. Having lived in Philadelphia my entire life, I grew up around a strong colonial identity. I remember going on field trips to historic sites, envisioning the seemingly ancient world of the 18th century. My time volunteering has led me to join the Marbleheaders reenactment group at the park. Reenacting has allowed me to engage with history in a way that is unique and meaningful. Rowing a Durham boat across the Delaware River as part of the annual Christmas reenactment was an experience that I will always cherish, and I look forward to continuing for years to come. I am very fortunate to have been exposed to Washington Crossing Historic Park. Volunteering has emboldened my passion for history, allowing me to share that passion with the greater community.”
Outstanding Leadership – Joanna McClintock
Joanna McClintock is being recognized for the way she has stepped up to help maintain the park’s historic gardens. For the past five years, her dedication and passion for gardening and hard work has set the tone amongst garden staff and volunteers, as does her vivacious and positive attitude. Historical Horticulturist Anna Davis says it is an honor and privilege to work alongside Joanna – “She weeds, plans, and works rain or shine and always has a smile on her face…she’s irreplaceable.” Joanna contributed nearly 70 volunteer hours in 2022.
“I was absolutely delighted to receive this award. My husband and I retired to Bucks County in 2018. We are always taken in by the sights along River Road. Our daughter and her family are in Pennington and the sight of the Hibbs House from the ‘skinny bridge’ always delighted me. I thought there might be a volunteer opportunity there, so I inquired at the Visitor Center.
Anna, the historical horticulturist, reached out to me and we walked and talked about her plans for a kitchen garden. I told her I like to get my hands dirty (no gloves for me!) and she listened. We’ve built, planted, harvested, hauled, searched, weeded, watered, and manned a table together. Folks often stop by as we work and we’re always happy to share what’s going on. Such a great fit for me!
Anna and Ross, the farm manager, always make me feel like a real partner. My input is welcomed and valued. I can’t wait to help them restore the Hibbs House Garden to its former glory now that the renovations are complete. I’ve met so many great folks, indoors and out, at the park.”
Outstanding Long-Term Service – Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing Chapter
Over the past nine years, the park’s partnership with the Washington Crossing Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has produced multiple successful programs. These include:
- The annual Christmas tree decoration in the Visitor Center
- The Constitution Compendium placed on the park’s website
- The placement of holiday wreaths at the soldiers’ graves
- Support for the park’s annual Memorial Day event
- Support for the flagpole replacement at the soldiers’ graves
- Installation of a bench at the soldiers’ graves
- Marking James Moore’s gravesite
- Support in obtaining a grant from the national DAR
- Support hosting naturalization ceremonies at the park
- Compiling a list of those who participated in the 1776 crossing
- Hosting a ceremony for the Pennsylvania State Society DAR to place an America 250! Patriots Marker, recognizing the park as a significant site of the American Revolution.
“The Washington Crossing Chapter is honored to receive this award for our contributions to the park’s mission and goals. Our Chapter members began volunteering at the park because of their passion for history and the desire to help preserve and educate others about important events and figures from the past. For our members, volunteering at the park is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. One of those members, Judi Biederman, has been awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award from the park and her passion has ignited interest and engagement from many other members.” – Hope Bailey, Regent, Washington Crossing Chapter DAR