Old Fort Niagara honored Thomas O'Brien of Youngstown as the 2015 Volunteer of the Year at its March 5 volunteer recognition breakfast. O'Brien contributed 272 hours to the fort's 41,398 total volunteer hours in 2015. His name has been added to a plaque that recognizes each Volunteer of the Year, which is displayed in the fort's visitor center.
"Each year, Old Fort Niagara honors a volunteer whose dedication and contributions are exceptional," said Robert L. Emerson, executive director of the historic site. "That person is Tom O'Brien for 2015. We are a very fortunate to have Tom as such an active and involved part of our volunteer team and we thank him for his service to the fort."
O'Brien has volunteered at the fort since 2012 and has helped out in many areas, including tour guide, parking, touring with school groups, guide of the day, lighthouse, hospitality, "Castle by Candlelight," "Haunted Fortress," food sales and history interpreter. He is retired from the U.S. Army, where he worked in active duty and the reserves for 25 years. He also volunteers at Heart, Love and Soul in Niagara Falls.
"I volunteer at Old Fort Niagara because there is a lot of history in this area, and I like helping to share it with people from all over the world," O'Brien said. "I enjoy meeting people and seeing their reactions when they discover just how much history is here."
Volunteers and re-enactors at Old Fort Niagara contributed 41,398 volunteer hours in 2015, which the fort values at over $500,000. More than 100 attended the March 5 breakfast and received certificates of recognition. U.S. Congressman Chris Collins (27th District) and New York State Sen. Robert Ortt (62nd District) addressed the honorees, praising their volunteer services and emphasizing the importance of preserving history.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown.
More than 100 volunteers attended the fort's recognition breakfast at the Fort Niagara Officers Club on Saturday, March 5. (Photo by Lee Gugino)