Meet the 2020 Volunteers of the Year

April 15th, 2020 News and Events

This year, the non-profit Friends of Washington Crossing Park are pleased to recognize a number of outstanding volunteers.

Combined, these individuals contributed over 500 hours to the park last year as interpreters, tour guides, reenactors, event organizers and educators. They’ve shared their love of history with visitors from all over the world and brought history to life for countless schoolchildren.

Email volunteer@washingtoncrossingpark.org or call 215-493-4076 for more information about volunteering at Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Dave Wilner: 2020 Volunteer of the Year

David Wilner first began volunteering with the Friends of Washington Crossing Park in 2016. A volunteer tour guide, you can find Dave at the park on Monday afternoons, explaining the importance of the crossing to visitors of all ages.

In addition to his contributions as a tour guide, Dave has participated in numerous living history events as both a park volunteer and a member of the Artillery Crew. He has also volunteered at the annual Spring Brewfest and Wine on the Waterfront, two fundraisers that benefit the Friends of Washington Crossing Park.

All in all, Dave contributed nearly 190 hours throughout 2019.

“I was surprised to be recognized as the Volunteer of the Year. I never thought I did anything beyond ordinary. I’ve been volunteering at the park since I retired. In college, I minored in history, so I’ve always had that interest. I really enjoy being with the kids during Colonial Days and teaching them how to shoot the cannon. I give them each an assignment as part of a cannon crew and time them to see who can get it done the fastest.”

Mary Ryan: Outstanding Long-Term Service

Mary Ryan estimates she’s been volunteering at Washington Crossing Historic Park for well over 20 years.  In her own words, she’s “a stakeholder in the park on many levels, including as a neighbor.”

“When I first got involved, it wasn’t well cared for, so I tried to do what I could, gardening, picking up branches,” she explains. “When the volunteer group formed, my husband and I put a lot of effort into ensuring the Friends of Washington Crossing Park was developed the right way.”

An integral part of our volunteer program, Mary runs multiple stations for thousands of schoolchildren each year, including 11 Colonial Days field trips in 2019.  She also interprets colonial life at various park events throughout the year and steps up to show new volunteers how to run a station.  Finally, Mary is dedicated to always improving her interpretation, including sewing her own kit as part of our volunteer sewing circle.

“I started with a group of women who tended the gardens at the park. We called ourselves ‘The Blue Shirts’ because we all wore denim shirts when we worked,” Mary says. “At some point the director suggested we make ourselves colonial outfits to wear because it would be a great experience for visitors. It was so much fun dressing up and interacting with the public! About 25 percent of my closet today is filled with colonial dress. In the past six years, I’ve become really involved with education for school children at the park. I work various stations such as quill writing, candle dipping, natural dyes and interpreting. It’s something I really look forward to. It’s so interesting to see how the kids react to life at that time. Working with the kids even motivated me to write a children’s book about female spies of the Revolutionary War that they sell in the park bookstore.”

Logan Flanagan: Junior Volunteer of the Year

At 12 years old, Logan Flanagan is one of the park’s youngest volunteers—but he actually began volunteering when he was only eight! Even so, Logan is one of our most committed volunteers.

An integral part of both the Fife and Drum Corps and the Artillery Crew, Logan participates in multiple events throughout the year, including George Washington’s birthday party in February and the annual crossing reenactments in December.

“It feels great to be the junior volunteer of the year. I play drums in the band at school, so I’m involved with the Fife and Drum Corps at the park. My first reenactment was at the annual crossing in 2016. I’m also part of the Artillery Crew. I bring the ammunition from the ammo box and give it to the person loading the cannon. I like volunteering at the park because I get to learn about history. It also helps in school. I’m the only one who can answer a lot of the questions in social studies, which is my favorite subject.”

Kathy Pasko: Outstanding Leadership

For years, Kathy Pasko has been an integral part of the park’s two biggest events of the year: the First Crossing reenactment, and the annual Christmas Day reenactment.

A member of the Reenactor Organizing Committee, Kathy coordinated the 298 reenactors who registered for the 2019 crossing reenactments. In this role, she handles all registrations, ensures everyone has appropriate kit and up-to-date information, schedules and trains boat captains and boat crews at multiple drills throughout the year, and organizes reenactor registration/check-in the day of the event.

In 2019, Kathy spent over 150 hours planning the crossing events and contributed more than 170 hours to the Friends of Washington Crossing Park.

“I enjoy giving back and never expect recognition for it,” Kathy says. “I started volunteering in the Visitor Center at the park, then helped form an artillery crew when they needed one. Now I handle all the registrations for the crossing reenactments. I’m also a member of the Marbleheaders, AKA the 14th Continental Glover’s Marblehead Regiment. I’ve been part of the reenactment every year since 2007. I really enjoy talking to the public and being able to broaden their knowledge. I’m a storyteller and love bringing history to life. I also love helping the reenactors. Together, we bring a special energy to the event.”

Alice Murphy: Rising Star

Alice Murphy began volunteering at Washington Crossing Historic Park in 2018.  An important part of the Artillery Crew, Alice can be seen regularly demonstrating the cannons to the crowds at living history events throughout the year.  She was also one of the founding members of the Fife and Drum Corps, contributing over 50 hours to practices. Alice consistently jumps in wherever needed, including helping at Washington’s birthday party, decorating the Historic Village for Christmas, and preparing the park’s annual Christmas wreath workshop.

“I’ve always been interested in history. I have some patriots in my family tree, and my grandmother used to tell me stories about them. When a friend asked if my husband and I would be available to learn how to use the cannons for a 4th of July demonstration at the park, we jumped at the chance. Now I’m hooked. My husband used to do reenactments, and I got him to return to that. I like to sew, so it gave me a chance to learn about sewing historical clothing. I participate as a camp follower and explain what women may have been doing as they followed the Continental Army. I’m also learning to play the fife for the Fife and Drum Corps.”