Hello all! This is Joe Morse at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
This week I bring you my first Service Spotlight, where I’ll be interviewing a volunteer from one of our sites to get to know them better. In these interviews, you will also be able to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, and their uniqueness.
This July I had the chance to speak with Peter Stenhouse. Peter volunteers at the front desk in Pearson Air Museum. Peter helps explain to visitors the significance of Pearson and answers general questions about the Park. He is a British ex-patriot, has been living in the United States now for 50 years, and is full of inspirational life experiences well beyond the mundane! Unfortunately, I was not able to capture his English accent in my writing. Here’s what Peter had to say:
How long have you been volunteering at Pearson Air Museum?
I’ve been volunteering since May of last year. I generally come Tuesdays and Fridays every week.
Which area do you volunteer in now and what do you typically do there?
I volunteer at Pearson Air Museum, telling people about the displays, answering their questions, and telling them about the museum’s significance. The basic emphasis of the Pearson Airfield. That’s the objective of the museum. This is one the oldest in the US, that is still in operation.
What’s your favorite thing about volunteering at Pearson Air Museum?
Mixing and talking with people. I’m getting near the end of the bloody game, but it’s nice with people. All people from all over the world come here. Even get a few English people!
What keeps you volunteering?
Being in a position to socialize and pass on knowledge. Being able to help makes me feel really useful.
What is the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?
My biggest challenge is I have to ask people to read me information about the airfield, and write for me. I am mostly blind with a 12-foot vision range, only being able to see outlines. Below the knee is a black hole. I’ve been blind for 12 years now.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?
This is one of the first airfields in the US. It’s the 2nd continually operating airfield in the US, after Kitty Hawk.
Any fun facts about yourself or pieces of information that you’d want others to know?
I was born in NW London. My father was killed during WWII and my mother, who was unemployed, had to take me out of boarding school. I was put up in an orphanage when I was 14 years old. The good part of it was I saw the other side of life early and it strengthened me for my future. Because I adapted, it set me up in life to overcome other obstacles. I was also in the British Royal Navy for 14 years.
When did you first come to the United States?
I arrived in New York on May 7th, 1962. I came as a visitor, only expecting to stay for a few weeks. To my surprise, I got a permanent visa and here I am 50 years later!
If you want to learn more about Peter and his inspirational stories, please check out his YouTube page and video, “Surviving the Blitz”,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyzXFMRNz1c.