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The Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center held its annual holiday open house on Thursday, December 6, to the delight of all attendees. The event was open to the public, who shared a lovely lunch while the Huntsville High School Jazz Band festively performed seasonal standards, and visitors received 25% discounts in the Gift Shop all day. During the meal, special recognition was made of the staff and volunteers who make a difference all year at the Visitor Center and the Wynne Home Arts Center. Visitor Center Director Kimm Thomas said they are an extension of the Tourism Division and that the staff's work would be impossible without them.
City Horticulturalist David Zellar was named the Visitor Center Tourism Partner for 2018 for all of his help and assistance with the grounds and his consistent promotion of Huntsville as a tourist destination in his personal travel. Thomas said he brings back information on groups and ideas that he encounters and often serves as an ambassador by assisting with guests, and telling the story of Huntsville and its offerings.
Thomas also highlighted the work of Visitor Center and Gift Shop staff, including recent intern Emily Jones. Volunteers Jeanine Jacoby, Paul Culp, Lynn Alexander, Carl Overton, and Georgeanne Christopher were lauded for their generous contributions of time and energy. (For this story, Thomas later shared that residents typically serve in two main capacities at the Center: as Guest Services Volunteers who greet each guest and tell them about the Statue and all that Huntsville has to offer and encourage them to visit points of interest in our community or as Adventure Guides who get on visiting buses and travel throughout Huntsville with tour groups, pointing out unique venues while telling fun stories of local color and sharing the history of Huntsville.)
Wynne Home Arts Center Coordinator Linda Pease then took the podium to recognize all who help in her arena, noting that volunteers are crucial to the effective operation of the Center. Tamara Chasteen was named the 2018 Arts Center Partner of the year. Chasteen serves on the board of the Friends of the Wynne; volunteers to cook for special events; and creates, chairs, or supervises various special projects including Empty Bowls, Open Studios, grant activities, and the H-E-B Children's Community Pottery Project.
Pease also highlighted a few of the many others who keep the Wynne Home running smoothly, saying some contributors are recognized each year. Here are some of her comments:
- Patty Davis: As a long time volunteer and visionary for the Wynne Home Arts Center, Davis has chaired the instrumental Program Committee, advocated for the Wynne Home Arts Center and kept the scrapbooks for the Wynne for twelve years.
- Anita Escobedo: Serving as a member of the Friends of the Wynne Board, and for the annual Dia de los Muertos event, Escobedo leads the interior transformation of the Wynne Home into a beautiful, colorful setting for children's activities and for remembering persons who have been special to the Wynne Home.
- Dalia Harrelson: Harrison serves as Membership Chair for the Friends of the Wynne Board and joins in preparing for the Dia de los Muertos event, along with leading the transformation with lights to the outside of the Wynne Home at Christmas.
- Jane Henderson: The interior of the Wynne Home has been beautifully planned by the Interiors Committee which is chaired by Henderson. She also served on the Friends Board for many years. At Christmastime, Henderson and a larger special committee decorate the house for the season, and when the new year comes, take down the decorations and pack them for another year of storage.
- Betsy Maloney: Former Chairperson of the Friends Board and current Chair of the Friends Gallery, Maloney is a go-to person for faithful volunteer service and Pease's first call for help in a hurry.
- Cindy Pipes: A member of the ingenious Interiors Committee and of the extended Christmas Committee, Pipes has served as a member of the Friends Board and as such has been a very successful Membership Chairperson.
- Roberta Plant: Plant has chaired the influential Promotions Committee and now serves on the Friends Board. She has been an inspiration for A Wynne Home Nutcracker with ideas, mementos, even gas heaters for the porch, and myriad other contributions.
- Nancy Platzner: The faithful volunteer who arrives every Thursday morning ready to help with administrative work in the Wynne Home office, Platzner is wonderfully willing to do anything else that might - and often does - emerge as a priority.
Please take time to stop by the Statue Visitors Center and Wynne Home Arts Center during the holidays, and to congratulate all the citizens who help make these places special all year long. For more information on events or the open house recognitions, contact Thomas at KThomas@HuntsvilleTX.gov or Pease at LPease@HuntsvilleTX.gov.