Lighthouse Volunteer Program
What is volunteerism and why is it important within our society? What constitutes a successful volunteer program? How does becoming a volunteer benefit the individual and the organization where he/she volunteers? These and other questions related to volunteerism were addressed by Richard B. Young in a report published by the University of South Carolina titled Volunteerism: Benefits, Incidence, Organizational Models, and Participation in the Public Sector.
"Volunteerism in the United States is neither a new concept nor an uncommon activity. Historically, America has long recognized the importance of "a societal responsibility to join in, to give freely of one's time to assist or aid others." This responsibility is frequently iterated in the literature. For example, Alexis De Tocqueville, in 1831, stated in his seminal work, Democracy in America, that the U.S. was a "nation of joiners" that regularly formed groups to meet or accomplish common goals.
The past century has seen many notable examples of volunteerism, particularly those associated with federally sponsored programs. In the 1960's, the Peace Corps began work to assist the poorest countries in the world by constructing schools, treating the sick, and assisting in agricultural needs. The Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, initiated during the same decade, undertook assistance to low-income communities across the nation ranging in services from the conservation of natural resources to the cleanup and restoration of urban centers. Today, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, Senior Corps, and USA Freedom Corps are national programs that enlist thousands of volunteers to address virtually every kind of pressing human problem or need.
State governments also actively recruit volunteers to help in providing essential services to the citizenry. For instance, volunteers provide various integral emergency services in the wake of natural disasters. Volunteers also lend a helping hand to the state courts and correctional systems. This includes the provision of probation and parole mentors, counselors, teachers and trainers, and foster parents. "Adopt-a-highway" programs, tax preparation assistance, "meals on wheels," hospital care giving, and literally dozens of other state government-sponsored volunteer programs exist.
Local governments additionally utilize volunteers. Volunteers provide valuable services to local schools and libraries, parks and recreational programs, senior citizen centers, police, ambulance and firefighting units. Statistically, for example, 80 % of the manpower needs of local fire departments in the U.S. are provided for by volunteers.
Non-governmental organizations significantly utilize volunteers as well. Churches, civic groups, neighborhood associations, philanthropic organizations, and a host of other nonprofit groups provide a wide-range of volunteer opportunities and services."
The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association was founded by a small group of Ponce Inlet residents concerned with the uncertain fate of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station. Decommissioned in 1970 by the United States Coast Guard, the light station quickly fell into a state of extreme disrepair. Vandals, time, and the harsh coastal elements quickly took their toll on the abandoned light station.
Alarmed by the station's rapid decay and rumors of the planned demolition of the keepers' quarters and outbuildings, the recently incorporated town of Ponce Inlet petitioned the U.S. government for ownership of the historic light station. Deeded to the town of Ponce Inlet, responsibility for the preservation and operation of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station was turned over to the recently incorporated non-profit organization, the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association.
Work immediately began on the seemingly insurmountable task of bringing the Light Station's buildings, grounds, and tower back to their former glory. With little or no money to begin the project, the Preservation Association relied almost entirely on the hard work and ingenuity of its volunteer members to complete this important task. As the years progressed and the work performed at the Light Station became more specialized and strenuous, the once all-volunteer Association slowly developed into the professional volunteer-supported organization that exists today.
The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse now exists as one of the finest and best preserved light stations in the country and is one of only twelve lighthouses in the country to have been designated a National Historic Landmark. Lighthouse Associations across the country look to Ponce Inlet as the example of historic restoration to emulate. Our award-winning educational programming promotes an understanding and appreciation for the importance of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station and generates a sense of pride and appreciation for this great American monument.
Now in its forty-third year of existence, the Association still relies on its dedicated corps of volunteers to achieve its ongoing mission to preserve and disseminate the maritime and social history of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station. Although no longer directly engaged in the restoration and preservation of the facility's physical structures, volunteers remain essential to the Association's educational programming and several have even become assistant lampists, lending a helping hand to the curator in the preservation of historic Fresnel lenses.
Volunteer Opportunities Include:
Tour Guides - Educate visitors about the Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station and Central Florida History. Tour Guides provide visitors with a complete tour of the Light Station and local history. Training is provided for all tour guides. Normal length of tour is one to three hours and requires the ability to walk for an extended period of time (it is not necessary to climb the tower). Tour Guides must be reliable, enthusiastic, and friendly. Good public speaking skills, a love of history, and a desire to share their knowledge with others is a must.
- Tower Monitors- Educate visitors about the Ponce De
Leon Inlet Light Station. Monitors should be friendly and possess good public speaking skills, a love for history, and desire to share their knowledge with others. Tower monitors need to be in good physical condition and able to climb 203 steps to the top of the Lighthouse. Standing for extended periods of time is required for this position.
- Living History Interpreters- Become a part of the historic Light Station and provide visitors with the opportunity to step back in time and interact with a historic character. Volunteers need an outgoing and friendly demeanor, a love of history, good public speaking skills, and the ability to "ham it up". Living History Interpreters must be willing to commit the time needed to thoroughly research and develop their characters and play them at special events.
- Costuming Assistant- Help bring the past alive by designing and making period clothing for our Living History Interpreters. We are looking for a reliable and experienced seamstress who can "scale up" a pattern or sew without one.
- Workshop Instructor- We are looking for volunteers to help us develop and conduct workshops on a variety of lighthouse related topics. Volunteers must enjoy history and have a desire to share it with young and old alike. Volunteers with teaching experience are especially welcome.
- Office Assistant- The Administrative Department is seeking a volunteer to help answer the phone and talk with the public. Volunteers should have some experience working in an office environment, possess basic computer operating skills, and be available once or twice a week for four hours a day.
- Special Events Assistant- The Programs Manager is currently looking for one or two individuals to help staff during special events. Volunteers would assist in greeting visitors, helping with visitor registration, and other duties as assigned. Individuals interested in this position should be outgoing, reliable, and available once or twice a month.
Its not all work and no play. Our volunteers enjoy meeting interesting people from all over the world as part of their involvement here. There are many opportunities for field trips to other institutions, and and we love to socialize with each other. Become a Lighthouse Volunteer and join in on the fun today!
- Promotional Events Assistant-The Programs Manager is currently looking for volunteers who are interested in helping to promote the Lighthouse at off-site events throughout Central Florida. Responsibilities would include traveling to special events, setting up a display table and promoting the Lighthouse through conversation and the distribution of promotional materials. Applicants must enjoy talking to the general public, love the Lighthouse, and be available once or twice a month. The Lighthouse will pay for mileage and general expenses.
Individuals interested in becoming a Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Volunteer can download the volunteer programming summary and application below. Completed applications can be dropped off at the Lighthouse or mailed to:
Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse
4931 S. Peninsula Drive
Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
For more information regarding our extensive volunteer program, please contact Programs Manager Mary Wentzel by phone at (386) 761-1821 ext. 18, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.