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Museum volunteers spread history of Keizer and more

By LYNDON A. ZAITZ
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer community offers many opportunities for volunteerism. There are non-profit organizations that serve a specific clientele, there are commissions and task forces with city government. There are countless opportunities for the public to give of their time with our schools, from elementary to high.

One of the more unique volunteer opportunities is at the Keizer Heritage Museum at the Keizer Cultural Center, housed in the original Keizer School built in 1916 and that now sits on the Keizer Civic Center campus on Chemawa Road NE.

The museum is the repository for Keizer’s history, dating back to the mid-1800s. There are permanent exhibits that are joined by temporary exhibits as well as a research center. The research center is named for one the museum’s longest serving volunteers and supporter—Evelyn Melson Franz. Though Franz has stepped away from any day-to-day operations, she visits often.

One of the current volunteers serves as a museum host two days each month. Ray Gordene Lane has been volunteering at the museum for so long she doesn’t remember when she started.

Lane, a retired kindergarten teacher and school librarian, has been a Keizer resident since the early 2000s. She has a history of volunteering from a tour guide at a Eugene museum and as policy chairperson for the Keizer/Salem Area Seniors.

“Answer questions from visitors,” said Lane when asked what she does as a volunteer. Interacting with museum visitors is one of the attractions (and benefits) for her as a host. “I meet lots of interesting people,” she added.

When she began volunteering at the museum she knew very little about Keizer and its history. By poring over the exhibits, reading the books about Keizer, Lane has learned about the man the city was named for (Thomas Dove Keizur) as well as Charles McNary (U.S. Senator) who lived in a house where McNary Golf Club now sits.

“I always recommend volunteering,” she said. “It is not a hard job (as a host at the museum)—it’s only hard when people don’t come in.”

The Keizer Heritage Museum, operated by the Keizer Heritage Foundation, is seeking to open the museum more hours and is recruiting volunteer hosts for two to three hour shifts. Currently the museum’s hours are 2-4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. A volunteer can take as few or as many shifts as they like.

Each volunteer is given a thorough tour of the museum, its exhibits and its research center. As host, a volunteer’s toughest job is to persuade visitors to sign in the visitors book. Gordene Lane has found her niche as a volunteer and makes the museum her home for four hours each month.