for the past
Madison Inc. honors
volunteers at annual reception
Sarah Vest honored for her decades of service
(January 2007) You have to be on your
toes, says Sarah Vest. Thats just what she has done for
the past 35 years in her volunteer work for the nonprofit preservation
organanization, Historic Madison Inc.
by Michele Turner
Vest moved to
Madison from her native
West Virginia and has
fallen in love with
Vest was honored for more than 2,000 hours of service
at the annual Docent Recognition Tea on Dec. 5 at the St. Michael the
Archangel Church. We count and tally hours and give awards to
mark milestones, such as 50 hours, 100 hours. Sarahs 2,000 hours
is unheard of, said Heidi Valco, Director of Programs at HMI.
When her youngest son left for college in West Virginia in 1971, Vest
says she felt lost. I missed him terribly, so my neighbor, Mary
Heaton, thought I needed a distraction. Heaton suggested that
she become a docent for HMI. I thought you had to be more educated
to do something like that, but I looked into it, said Vest.
She found she could do it and has been for decades. I love meeting
all the people, and I learn so much from them. I always ask them what
I should see if I go to their town, explained Vest.
Preserving Madisons history is important to Vest. She and her
husband, Bill, moved here from West Virginia more than 52 years ago.
Her husband worked for Appalachian Electric Co. and was offered a transfer.
They had driven through Madison a few years earlier and jumped at the
chance to relocate here. She certainly has no regrets: In all
our travels we never found a better place.
Her love for history was inspired by her father, who was a teacher for
awhile. We would take long drives and he would stop at every historical
marker and make us read it to improve our reading skills. But we also
learned to love history, explains Vest.
Vest believes passionately in preserving Madisons history. She
disappointedly explains how her hometown, St. Albans, W.Va., has lost
its Main Street. Everyone has moved to the malls. They didnt
catch onto their history. They wanted to be modern and industrial.
Preserving and sharing Madisons history is what volunteers do
for HMI. Docent Associates is a group of volunteers consisting of local
men and women organized for the purpose of providing guide service at
the Jeremiah Sullivan House, Dr. William Hutchings Office and
Hospital, the Francis Costigan House, the Schroeder Saddletree Factory
Museum and at special events such as the Nights Before Christmas Candlelight
There is also the Weavers Guild, which produces woven items on
a loom in the Sullivan House that are available for purchase. Finally,
there is the Garden Guild, which contributes many hours annually to
plant and maintain the appearance of the Talbott-Hyatt Garden. The garden
contains many early plantings, a reconstructed well and carriage house.
HMI is seeking more volunteers. In addition to the properties already
open to the public, the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church
is scheduled to open next year. The A.M.E. Church served as a community-gathering
place and church for 70 years and an informational source for those
involved in the Underground Railroad. All of HMIs properties require
volunteers to give tours and share information with visitors.
When someone comes in, they have the opportunity to choose what
they would like to do, said Valco. The properties are open to
the public from mid-April through mid-October.
There is no minimum time commitment and if there are certain months
where someone will be out of town, thats fine, added Valco.
There are trainers at every site to work with new volunteers. In addition
to the docent and guild programs, volunteers may also work on various
research projects. Were happy with whatever help we are
offered, said Valco.
As for Vest, who proudly says shell turn 87 years old on Feb.
1, Ive slowed down finally.
Dont believe her!
For more information about volunteering
at Historic Madison Inc. call Heidi Valco at (812) 265-2967.
Back to January