We thought we would take this blog to talk about Volunteers.   The comedian Erma Bombeck once said 'Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, and just plain loving one another.'   There are so many volunteer organizations out there, from working with children, the homeless, animals, historical buildings and vessels, that there are no lack of things that we can all do to 'give back' to our society.  At a time when this nation (and even 'world' {a shout out to our international blog readers}) is very polarized and divided on just about every thing you can think of, many are neglecting to even consider 'HOW do I GIVE back?  How can I make a positive difference in my world?'   The idea of civic  responsibility does not even enter the minds of many people today. 

The volunteers on the BROWN are no different than the volunteers on the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, (our sister Liberty Ship in San Francisco),   SS LANE VICTORY (Victory Ship), The LILAC (a 1933 lighthouse tender in NYC), the E.M. COTTER (Buffalo's 100 year old Fireboat) or even the SATURN (a historical  tug in Maine), just to name a very small number of historic vessels.  All these volunteers are men and women, young and old, married and single, parents of fur babies and humans (though if you have toddlers or teens, the 'human' part is debatable), full time employees and retirees, and this list can go on and on.  

On the BROWN, we have everything from bay pilots to entrepreneurs, doctors and teachers, fire and police personnel, nurses and engineers, farmers, active military, salespeople and office workers.  Many of our volunteers came to the ship with a maritime or military background, but just as many came with none.  You supply the desire to help preserve history and the ship and we can give you work that needs to be done and training if needed. 

So how does this whole thing work?    We have members and then we have crew/volunteers.   Volunteers HAVE to be members, but members do not have to volunteer.  Let's explain...  Members are people who are willing to pay each year (click HERE for more info, if interested)  to be a member of the ship. You actually own a small part of the ship, since the membership of Project Liberty Ship actually OWNS the SS JOHN W BROWN.   Most members (we have thousands of members) do not  come to the ship and volunteer.  Membership is a way to stay involved in the ship, and help keep the ship afloat.  Members get a certificate of membership, quarterly Liberty Logs (newsletter), opportunity to volunteer if you can and if you want, and have access to other special member offers.   

Once you are a member, if you would like to come volunteer, that is something you have the option to do.   We are always (and as it's my bedtime as I write this, I stress the word ALWAYS) looking for help {blog writers are ALWAYS welcome}.  That does not mean that we expect you to come each Wednesday or Saturday.  From the very beginning, Project Liberty Ship found that to get and keep volunteers, we could NOT have too many guidelines forced on our volunteers.  There are obvious ones since we work with the public and children, like no convicted felons and that sort of thing.   What we really want are people that have the desire to belong to a community of like-minded people, who want to preserve and operate the BROWN. 

What do our volunteers do?  Well, we are a 501(c)3...a non profit, all volunteer organization.   Not one person collects a paycheck.  Think of the things that are involved. First and foremost, we are a historical vessel, and as such, there is always work to be done on the ship, on the engine, on the tanks, electrical system, computer and WiFi system..... (the list really does go on and on).   

But there is TONS of work that is done by those that we call staff.   They collect and answer mail, process fundraisers and membership drives, answer phone calls, type up, proofread and send thank you letters, collect donations, archive things we have and that we are continuously receiving, shopping for food and water for cruises, working with the caterer and entertainers, plan the cruises and create watch lists. 

I'm making myself tired just typing some of the things our volunteers do.  Remember how we wrote about just a handful of historical vessels above who also had volunteers?  Well not only can that list go on and on and on, but so can the list of 'jobs' that need to be done on our ship.  So what is the moral to this story?   Get out and volunteer.  WE would love to nab you and claim every reader as a member and/or volunteer, but the reality is that you may not live close enough to volunteer.  Think about helping by becoming a member, but also, think about what you can do to give back in your own community.  Even if you volunteer someplace (anyplace) one day a month...that is helping to give back.  

Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.

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