Meadow Brook Hall was featured in a great article in C and G Newspapers focused on opportunities for senior volunteers at the Great Estate, particularly during the holidays.
Read an excerpt from the article below, or click here for the full article.
For more information about volunteering at Meadow Brook, visit meadowbrookhall.org/volunteer.
Senior volunteers are in demand for holiday volunteering
By: Charity Meier | Metro | Published October 23, 2023
Places such as Meadow Brook and the Detroit Institute of Arts are in need of volunteers to fill a vast array of positions this holiday season and beyond.
Meadow Brook estate, in Rochester Hills, has an active and robust volunteer program, according to Katie Higgins, Meadow Brook marketing and communications manager. The volunteer cohort at Meadow Brook consists of around 300 people who volunteer their time to help make things happen at the estate.
According to Connor Newton, who oversees the volunteer program at Meadow Brook, volunteers at the estate range in age from high school students to senior citizens, with the majority of their volunteers being of senior stature.
“The bulk of our cohort are senior citizens, and the opportunities are really quite ranging,” said Newton. “I have a series of volunteer opportunities from the gardens into the house that really engages with many different areas of interests and proficiencies.”
Volunteer positions at Meadow Brook include gardeners, who maintain the various gardens throughout the property. The Garden Club meets on Tuesdays during the garden season. Newton said every Tuesday, approximately 60 members of the club come out to maintain the gardens on the grounds. There are also naturalists who volunteer to fight the invasive plants in the woodlands, Newton said. There are also squires, a group that is made up predominantly of men. The squires help with various maintenance tasks throughout the property, such as untangling and hanging Christmas lights, and painting doors. Volunteers with an interest in curating are able to get involved by assisting Meadow Brook curators with special projects. Curatorial volunteers help with the staging of exhibits, and assist the curator with moving of sensitive artifacts and fragile furniture. Curatorial volunteers receive special training to be able to handle historical artifacts. The estate also has opportunities for volunteers to digitize imagery and many other projects that are overseen by the estate curators.
“On the interpretive side, which I closely oversee, I have hosts and docents who are really tasked with sharing the story of Meadow Brook with the general public and with private touring guests,” said Newton. “So, volunteers who are interested in communicating. They’re generous in their approach with folks from all over the world – all over the country, because Meadow Brook attracts those kind of visitors who are interested in building connections and rapport with strangers and friends alike. They find a great place here. Although I work here, I often tell people that, for me, in a lot of ways, Meadow Brook is somewhat of a third place — a place that’s not home, a place that’s not work, where you can come together with like-minded individuals and find fulfillment and satisfaction, and for many people — well, for hundreds of people — Meadow Brook serves as that kind of place.”
However, with the holidays approaching, Newton said the greatest need at the estate is for volunteers to provide assistance with hosted and self-guided touring. This is also needed throughout the year for both self-guided touring and for private events, such as weddings and evening programs.
“This is an opportunity where folks with a love of history and a knack for interpersonal communication can engage with external visitors here at Meadow Brook and sort of bring our history alive,” said Newton. “And also protect our collections, right? Eyes are really important to ensure that our artifacts are being appropriately interacted with by visitors.
Newton said the programs offered by Meadow Brook for volunteers are ever growing. In a calendar year, the estate has approximately 300 active volunteers. He said that if they could get another dozen or two volunteers in the next calendar year, that would be “fantastic.”
“We are always eager for more hands,” said Newton. “Volunteers are essential to our mission. Not only do they contribute to the culture of this space, (and) with their knowledge and their passion bring Meadow Brook to life for the general public, they also represent a really important source of manpower and hours. So with their talent and with the time that they give us, it would be a big challenge to hire that many people to come in (to) help us with those kind of projects and with the kind of work they do, so they are really crucial to a nonprofit like us.”