Ellen joined the Historic Odessa Foundation’s volunteer family in our very first year as a new organization. Just slightly overwhelmed…
HOF staff were facing thousands of research documents, in a mountain of boxes, all needing to be catalogued and housed. The mission: to create a community library and resource center with a data base which could be easily accessed by students, scholars, and general public. What was needed was an army of librarians to accomplish the task! Providence sent us Ellen Walsh.
Ellen began working with Rita Ryor, HOF Librarian, every Wednesday in rooms on the third floor of our offices located in the historic Odessa Bank. In the early days only muffled voices could be heard coming from behind a brown wall of cardboard, which spilled into the hall, and down the stair. In fact, some days the quiet hush made us fear that Ellen and Rita could be trapped under pounds of paper! Year after year the work continued…the boxes slowly disappeared… replaced by filing cabinets filled with folders, shelves heavy with archival storage boxes, and glorious books…each catalogued, numbered, and photographed. It was tedious, painstaking labor…and it was truly a labor of love. Thanks to Ellen’s dedication, librarians skills, and extreme patience, HOF today boasts a working library and research center open to our community, six days a week year around.
While Ellen’s work on this project is ongoing and represents the bulk of time spent with us it is not the only activity that she has been involved with. Ellen always steps up when called upon to help out at the reception desk and has also served as a site manager for Christmas in Odessa, an event we open our doors for each year the first Saturday in December. Most recently she has spent many hours transcribing letters which are the subject of our latest exhibition “Dear Lou”: Civil War letters home from Capt. Charles Corbit.
Volunteering is not a new pursuit for Ellen. She began volunteering in late 1970's helping to establish a Church Library in her hometown. Ellen also volunteered for the Pregnancy Care Center where she eventually became it’s Executive Director. Ellen moved to Delaware from Scarsdale, NY after her husband died and again began seeking volunteer opportunities. The Historic Odessa foundation was most fortunate that she chose to walk through our door! Ellen arrived with a wonderful background and was fully prepared for all of the volunteer work she has taken on in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend communities. Organizations that Ellen devotes time to include; Corbit Calloway Memorial Library; MOT Senior Center; St. Joeseph's Church; Elkton Community Kitchen; The Delaware Department of Aging; and Adults with Physical Disabilities. We are truly blessed that she chooses to share some of her time with us.
When we asked Ellen why she volunteer's at the Historic Odessa Foundation, she replied " It is both fascinating and rewarding. Fascinating because I can learn first-hand about previous centuries, the people who lived during these times, fought in the Civil War, worked to build a community and town in what was a new and wonderful country. It's almost as if you truly know the people of the past who lived here. Rewarding because I get to interact and make friends with others who work and volunteer at the HOF… people who share the same interests and love of history. Since Odessa is such a small town and the museum is relatively small it allows one to get a real feel for the people and the times".
Many, many thanks to Ellen… for her time…her valuable talents… but perhaps most of all for the friendship she freely extends to everyone she encounters. Please visit our resource center any Wednesday…Ellen is always there to help!!