Old Fort Niagara named Elaine Hildreth of Youngstown as the 2014 Volunteer of the Year at its March 7 volunteer recognition breakfast. Hildreth contributed nearly 200 hours to the fort's 35,011 total volunteer hours in 2014. Her name has been added to a plaque that honors each Volunteer of the Year, and is displayed in the fort's visitor center.
The fort annually chooses a volunteer whose dedication and contributions go beyond the expected. Hildreth, who has volunteered at the fort since the mid-1990s, served last year as a tour guide and tour guide instructor; she organized haversacks for guides; served as a special events volunteer at "French Day," "Haunted Fortress" and "Castle by Candlelight"; cleaned and prepared lanterns for "Haunted Fortress"; and provided first-person interpretation for special events as "Jean Lowry."
"Elaine's cheerful disposition and love of history are assets to Old Fort Niagara," OFN Executive Director Robert Emerson said. "As a tour guide, she inspires curiosity with our visitors and makes the subject matter interesting - especially for student groups. We are very grateful for her volunteerism and it is an honor to recognize her as our volunteer of the year."
Hildreth is a retired elementary school teacher who taught at Huth Road Elementary School on Grand Island for 34 years. She volunteers for the Care-n-Share Food Pantry in Ransomville and the Friends of the Youngstown Free Library. She is a Youngstown resident.
Volunteers and re-enactors contributed 35,011 volunteer hours in 2014, which is the equivalent of 16 additional staff members working full time at the fort. OFN values this time at over $550,000.
More than 80 other volunteers attended the breakfast and received certificates of recognition. State Sen. Robert Ortt attended the event and helped to present the awards.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. It opens at 9 a.m. daily and is open until 5 p.m. during the winter months. Admissions end at 4:30 p.m. Old Fort Niagara is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association (a not-for-profit organization) in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
More than 80 volunteers attended Old Fort Niagara's recognition breakfast at the Officers Club.