Institute of Texan Cultures
Institute of Texan Cultures

Volunteering is second nature for veteran docent

(Jan. 14, 2004)--Volunteering at the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) isn't just a community service. It's a fun experience. Just ask Gwen Cassidy.

"It's been an evolution," said Cassidy, an ITC docent since 1976. "[ITC] is a wonderful place and has given so much to so many."

Although petite and 86 years old, Cassidy is going strong in her mission of volunteering for the institute as the longest active docent.

In the last 27 years, Cassidy has seen the number of volunteers grow from 13 to 340. In her early days, she worked at the information desk and carried the torch as one of the first unpaid volunteers at the Texas Folklife Festival.

"It has been a real pleasure," she added. "I hope I can continue for a few more [years]."

Even with Cassidy and the other docents, the ITC is always looking for a few good volunteers. Men and women of all ages interested in sharing the story of the Lone Star state as exhibit-floor tour guides, front-door greeters, interpreters and store docents are encouraged to apply.

Volunteers must be fluent in English, but bilingual skills are helpful, especially in Spanish, German and French.

ITC volunteers reap many benefits, including invitations to exhibit openings plus free admission to exhibits, events and the Texas Folklife Festival, when they are on duty. Volunteers also receive discounts in the ITC Store and free parking while volunteering.

Applications will be accepted through Jan. 20 for the next volunteer training sessions, which will be Jan. 28- Feb. 23.

To apply or for more information, call 210-458-2279 or e-mail

--Tina Luther

University Communications
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