Barbara Brockett and Rae Marquis enjoy making history come alive for visitors to Old City Park, a museum of architectural and cultural history near downtown Dallas. These two neighborhood residents are cornerstones of Old City Park’s volunteer program.
“Barbara and Rae always go the extra mile,” says Nancy Farina, volunteer coordinator at Old City Park. “They come in whenever they’re needed, and they are always enthusiastic.”
For most of her 17 years as an Old City Park volunteer, Brockett has been a discovery docent, giving tours of the park to groups of school children. The students watch a brief film and then visit various buildings on the grounds.
Brockett says the children motivate her to volunteer.
“I love seeing their excitement and watching them as they learn outside the classroom,” she says. “And I get something back from them when they smile or give me a hug.”
In addition to leading tours, Brockett makes clothespin dolls which are sold in McCall’s, the gift shop at Old City Park. Since 1976, she has made more than 40,000 of the handmade dolls dressed in Victorian and pioneer clothes to benefit the park. The dolls also are sold in 30 other museums across the country.
Marquis has volunteered at Old City Park for more than 10 years, serving as a touring docent and sharing the park with adult visitors. She has been co-chairman of Candlelight, an annual holiday festival, and currently, she is vice president of the park’s guild, responsible for coordinating and training other volunteers.
“Rae genuinely enjoys Old City Park,” Farina says. “Her enthusiasm shows, and our visitors benefit from that.”
Marquis enjoys giving tours because she loves meeting new people. She lived in France as a child, and as an Old City Park volunteer, she met some French visitors who lived near her former home. When Marquis and her husband later visited France, they stayed with her new friends.
“I’m a people person, so Old City Park is like a psychiatrist’s couch,” Marquis says. “Spending time there with people cleans out my mind and takes my troubles away.”
“It’s nice to be able to show off Dallas heritage and to present history in a living fashion.”
Old City Park needs more volunteers like Brockett and Marquis. There is a demand for touring docents who can guide visitors through the many historic buildings. Discovery docents like Brockett are needed to lead school children on tours of the park. Volunteers also are needed during Candlelight, Old City Park’s holiday event, Dec. 8-11. Training is provided for all volunteer positions.
For information about volunteer opportunities at Old City Park and other nonprofit agencies, call the Volunteer Center of Dallas at 826-6767.