Blogging Along the Brandywine


A few weeks ago I was reading when the phone rang. I got up
and went to my kitchen to answer.

"Hi, this is Ed Wandersee" said a familiar voice.

Having known Ed and his family for more than 25 years I
answered with a cheery and enthusiastic, "Hi Ed!"

 But Ed just kept talking, seemingly oblivious to my
exuberant greeting, and asked me to support Frank Murphy for the
Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board.

I finally realized it wasn’t really Ed, but a pre-recorded
political blurb.

I was very impressed.

But what if there was an office that no one wanted to
fill?  Sort of like the old peace
movement slogan, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"

One need not look any further than any of the non-profit
museums in Chadds Ford for many examples of board seats going unfilled.

According to Linda Kaat, president of the Brandywine
Battlefield Park Associates, she and Kim Hall, president of the Chester County
Historical Society,  “…had just
spent three hours in ‘therapy’ at the Whip Tavern regarding this topic.”

“No prestige, no money, no time is what I sense from people,
especially the time aspect,” she said.

“Speaking with former board members” she added, “they didn’t
need the aggravation…Different opinions made for bitter meetings.”

Former Chadds Ford Historical Society president, Chadds Ford
Day chair and perennial volunteer, Kathy Wandersee added, “Yes, it is difficult
to find people to take responsible positions in any volunteer
organization.  It all boils down to time–how much time will I have to
commit to?”

“There are still a lot of people who generously give their
time volunteering,” she said, “but the problem is in finding those who will
provide the leadership in these organizations. That requires more time,
thought, dedication and commitment.”

“I really don't think there is much prestige involved in
today’s leadership, or at least that is not why most are doing it.”

And that’s what it all boils down to: lack of prestige, time
and leadership qualities.

Two years ago, Sanderson Museum Vice President, Dean Camp
and I were having a luncheon meeting with George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, founding
director of the Brandywine River Museum, who kindly offered us invaluable
criteria for choosing new board members.

According to Weymouth the three most important attributes of
a board member should be: wealth, wisdom and work.

True, most boards have had their share of “dead wood” –
people who take up space because it looks good on their résumés. And when push
comes to shove, these same people are not committed to putting in the time and
effort required to advance and sustain their organization.

And though not without her own
board’s vacancies, Sue Minarchi president of the newly restored Sanderson
Museum said, “Non-profit organizations in the Brandywine Valley are gems for
visitors and residents alike. To lose them would be to lose the very flavor of
our wonderful area.”

Minarchi added, “At the Sanderson
Museum, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented group of volunteers
serving in various capacities. I hope more people will decide to donate
their time and effort to these wonderful organizations.”

“I can say from experience,” she
concluded, “that you get in return far more than you give.”

Do I hear a second?

All in favor say “Aye.”

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About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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