CHAZY - The Alice T. Miner Museum has depended on the commitment of volunteers to showcase local history for the past 15 years. Now, two of the museum's longtime volunteers are moving on.
Janet and George Brendler, Chazy, were recognized last Saturday for nearly 25 years of combined service to the museum. Amanda A. Palmer, director and curator of the museum, said the Brendlers have been instrumental in improving the efficiency of programs at "The Alice," as it's commonly known, and helping in a host of ways.
The Brendlers began their service in 1994, when Janet retired as a registered nurse for Dr. George W. Clark, who had a practice in the hamlet for several years.
"I needed something to do," she admitted. "I was bored staying home all the time."
She then began looking into volunteering, first setting her sights on a museum in Plattsburgh. However, she soon learned Fred Smith, the director and curator of The Alice at the time, was looking for volunteers as well.
"That was closer to home than going to Plattsburgh, so I came here," said Janet.
It wasn't long before she started helping at the museum on a regular basis. Eventually, Smith wanted to take inventory of all the pieces in the museum's collection, and for that, Janet enlisted the help of her husband, who had recently retired as a teacher at Chazy Central Rural School.
"We catalogued every item in the museum, gave it a description and George took pictures of everything with a digital camera," said Janet.
"They needed someone to photograph the items so Janet volunteered me," George said.
The process took more than a year, but, in the end, a comprehensive reference was created that aids the museum today in reviewing information about its pieces, said Palmer. Though she hadn't taken over Smith's role at that time, Palmer said she knew taking inventory at the museum was "a gargantuan project" and that the Brendlers "played a key role in its success."
Those who have visited the museum over the past 15 years would most remember the Brendlers for being the people who greeted visitors with a friendly smile, and a knowledgeable background of the museum and its contents, said Palmer.
"During the years I have worked with Janet, she and her husband George have been supportive in many ways," said Palmer. "Museums and other nonprofit organizations depend on volunteers to fulfill vital roles. I cannot imagine operating the museum without the invaluable help of volunteers."
"It's been fun. I have enjoyed it and you feel like you're doing something worthwhile," said Janet.
As for their plans now, the Brendlers each said they will spend more time together and on projects around their own home.
"I'm still here if they need me. I can come back," said Janet.
Although George will also be withdrawing himself from volunteering at the museum on a regular basis, he doesn't really consider it retiring.
"I was just Janet's accompaniment," George laughed.
Those interested in volunteering at The Alice T. Miner Museum may call Palmer at 846-7336 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.