Hey! Aaron here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

This week I bring you another Service Spotlight! If you didn’t know, a Service Spotlight will be an informal interview with one of Fort Vancouver’s volunteers. Not only will you get to know them better, but you’ll get to see how they bring something special to our volunteer program.

This month I had a chance to talk with Richard Matthews. Richard volunteers at the McLoughlin House (MCHO) in Oregon City, Oregon. He’s volunteered for a number of years (8, to be exact!) and his cheery smile and positive demeanor  is known throughout the park. Here’s what Richard had to say:

Which area do you volunteer in now and what do you typically do there?

I’m a docent and researcher as well as a member and trustee of the McLoughlin Memorial Association.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at MCHO?

I love talking with people and I love researching for information that is useful for our docents to use in their talks. I also try and volunteer over at Fort Vancouver whenever possible.

What keeps you volunteering?

The atmosphere of the site and the attitude of the MCHO staff, and most importantly, being able to help visitors discover this wonderful treasure we have at Oregon City.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

When I first started as a docent, my challenge was trying to figure out the best way to talk with the public to keep them engaged based on their interests.  I’ve been able to  overcome this by watching  the body language of the group – if they look disinterested I move on to something else. I’ve also found that it helps to stop and ask for questions throughout the tour. By doing that I can see what they are interested in learning more about.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to MCHO?

The 45 minute tour is worth their time! The docents are very knowledgeable because of their passion for this place. Also, it’s not often that a museum like this one has so many items that were actually used by a family such as the McLoughlin family.

Anything else you’d like to add? Any fun facts about yourself or pieces of information that you’d want other’s to know?

It’s important to give back to the community. Both my daughter and granddaughter volunteer at MCHO, so it’s something of a family event! And prior to my volunteering at MCHO, I was a coach for 20 years with Oregon Special Olympics. Again, family was involved there and working with those wonderful athletes gave me the feeling that everyone can be a winner.

Thanks, Richard!