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Thank You Volunteers! - Feat. Joanie Beins

As we enter this next season of thankfulness, we at the Plainsman Museum would like to take the time to give thanks for our many volunteers who help make our mission possible! To help give a further glimpse into the work of our volunteers, we have asked several of our regular volunteers to answer some questions about what they do here at the museum, and will be featuring them in a series of blog posts for the next few weeks. Today's featured volunteer is Joanie Beins!


Joanie Beins

Q: When did you first visit the Plainsman Museum?

"We moved back here to Aurora in 2007, and I think we came shortly after that."

Q: When did you start volunteering here?

"About 2015."

Q: What work do you usually do as a volunteer at the museum? What's your favorite thing to do as a volunteer?

"Organization is my preferred thing, so cataloguing is a pleasant thing for me to do, and making things easier to locate. I get a box - usually marked with a catalogue number - and then I go through the box, listing the catalogue numbers of the things that are in the box that have been donated by people. I check the condition the items are in, and I write down on a spreadsheet everything that I can see that might be missing - like a button on the clothes - and where the item is located. I do the shoes, I do the boots, I do the wedding dresses - which I enjoyed a lot! Especially for wedding dresses, we mark down where they are located on the spreadsheets, so they are an easy find if someone comes in and says, 'I'd sure like to see my grandmother's wedding dress!' Going through the wedding dresses was a lot of fun for me because there were a few names there that I knew of - the grandparents or the parents that had worn the dresses - and it was exciting for me to see the different colors that they used in the 1930's. Not all wedding dresses are white! In fact, I just finished a box that had a black dress in it, way back from the 1800's! And I figured that was probably all they had for clothes in those days. They wore maybe a special formal jacket with it, but it was an older dress, and that was interesting to me."

Q: What skills have you applied while volunteering at the museum? Were there any previous job or life experiences that you were able to draw from to do your work here?

"Mostly my skills of patience and careful documentation. And as for previous life experiences, I started way back in the early 1970's with a hospital clown program in Lincoln, when my daughter was going to college. And I had another hospital clown program and a prison clown program at the York Center for Women, which one of the prison guards asked me to do. I would come and show the women who had children how their kids could be frightened by clowns, and how being aware of their demeanor and their body language and bodily functions could help them learn about self-caring around children. ...I also volunteered at an outreach women's center for the women in need of help for themselves and for their children. I worked in the diaper and clothing bank, getting donated clothing ready for their use. It was a lot of washing, a lot of ironing, a lot of preparing the clothes for a new child to use. And now I volunteer in the wintertime at Villa Capri Association in Tucson were we live, to help make our home there a more enjoyable place to make friends and have people get to know each other who live in the park. Some live there full-time, some live there part-time. They're all seniors now, and it's very interesting to get to meet the new people that come in, and miss the old people that have left. That's been a good program, and I like to volunteer! I think volunteering is something everyone should do sometime, just to get the feel of it!"

Q: Tell us about one of your favorite artifacts or exhibits here at the museum!

"One of my favorites is walking down what I call Memory Lane, and seeing all the stores and the names of the people that maybe I had acquaintances with back in the 1960's or the 1970's or the 1980's. I've lived in Aurora four times, so just reminiscing about things that are shown here at the museum about how the town has progressed is very interesting to me."

Q: What's been one of your fondest memories of your time here at the museum?

"Through some of the cataloguing that I've done here, I've been able to find a lot of memories about my family. I moved to Nebraska when I was in my early 20's, and when I first lived here I didn't know a soul. I didn't have anybody in my family here. I was kind of alone here, I thought. Except for my wonderful husband, who introduced me to his family, and they were so gracious to accept me as part of their family! And I feel lucky that I met so many people of the Beins family and the Eskildsen family. And the special people I work with, who help me hone my organizational skills, because everyone needs honing sometimes! And Tina and Kathryn help me so much to accomplish my goals for this mission. I really enjoy it, and when I leave to go down to Arizona for three or four months in the winter, I think about you all, and I think of what new things might be waiting for me when I come back!

"Everyone should think about volunteering - doing something that helps somebody else, and be organized, if nothing else. We all need organization!"


Thank you Joanie for all you do!



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