“What other museum can fully engage audiences from three to 83 years old and everyone in-between?” muses volunteer Paul Neumayer, as we sit at the Kirk Wipper table, chatting about his time volunteering with the museum.
Paul joined the museum back in 2012, after his life took an unexpected turn and a motorcycle accident left him recovering from a brain injury. Unable to work, his counsellors and physiotherapist encouraged him to seek out volunteer opportunities as a way to stay busy and engaged. As an avid fisherman and graduate of Fleming College’s Fish and Wildlife program, Paul turned toward his passions, and upon seeing a sign for The Canadian Canoe Museum on the 401, decided to apply for a volunteer position.
The next week, while attending the local Sportsman Show (an event he has now helped with numerous times), he came across the museum’s booth. His niece and nephew were so engaged with the paddle-carving demonstrations that they spent more than an hour at the booth while Paul showed them how to use the spokeshave to shave thin ribbons of wood off the blanks. A week later, our Volunteer Manager reached out to him about his volunteer application, and the rest is history!
Seven years later, Paul’s impact has been felt in every area of the museum as he assists on our frontline with visitors and in our retail shop, and helps with Canoe Day (his favourite event) and education programs, and administrative work in our development office. This year Paul’s volunteer contributions were recognized after numerous staff nominated him for our bi-annual volunteer award, The Ben Byrick Award, which acknowledges outstanding volunteer contributions at The Canadian Canoe Museum.
In nominating Paul, one staff member shared: Paul has shown that his skills are diverse and he’s always the first to lend a helping hand when needed. He has dedicated much of his time, not only here at the museum, but also with our community outreach events, where travel to and from, is usually part of the gig!
What keeps him coming back is the opportunity for continued learning, and hearing all the stories – from funny to amazing – that our guests share day in and day out! Never one to sit idle, unless he is waiting on the catch-of-the-day, Paul also lends his talents to other local community organizations, including the Brain Injury Association of Peterborough, where his journey first began.
- Two shifts a week on our frontline services, helping to welcome visitors, process admissions and gift store purchases, and providing a brief orientation to the museum.
- A weekly shift in our development office, where he assists with photocopying and filing, photographing artifacts as part of our Adopt-an-Artifact program, and preparing mailings.
- Occasionally, as needed, assisting with outreach programs, birthday parties and Homeschooler Wednesdays.
This is the first post in a new monthly series written by our Volunteer Manager, Rachelia Giardino, that will highlight the impact of our volunteers and introduce you to members of our volunteer team and the work they do! If this sparks your interest in volunteering, check out our Volunteer page for information on our current opportunities.