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Volunteers
 
Joan Caffrey Barbara Spott  

Joan Caffrey and Barbara Spott, both born and reared in Scranton, volunteer their time every Thursday at the Lackawanna Historical Society, located at the historic Catlin House, 232 Monroe Ave, Scranton.

They are responsible for filing newspaper clippings that relate to area and regional history, which helps document and archive important historical information accessible to the public and also visiting researchers.

“Their dedication is obvious, but their cheerful manner in which they get their work done is a true bonus. I can honestly say that they are two of the most pleasant people I know, plus they have rarely missed a day since they started, which was about 12 years ago,” said Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, director of the Lackawanna Historical Society.

Both women met while teaching at Charles Sumner Elementary School in West Scranton. They taught the third grade together and became fast and long-lasting friends.

“We taught the same grade for years, retired together, and now we volunteer together. We just share the same love of knowledge, and also the need and importance of giving back to the community,” Caffrey said.

The women both became involved with volunteerism while still teaching together at Charles Sumner.

They volunteered at the West Scranton Library and later with the American Cancer Society, where they met Alan Sweeney, president of the Historical Society and chairman of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority. At the time, Sweeney served as head chairman at the Historical Society and asked if they would be interested in volunteering.

“Alan emanated such determination and dedication and had a real welcoming attitude when he invited us to become LHS volunteers, so it was hard to say no, and I am glad we didn’t,” Caffrey said.
“It’s an amazing experience. It’s as if we get to go back in time,” Spott added. “You get to see things that happened when you were younger, and also articles from when your grandparents were younger.

“You learn about what happened in the city, how it started to grow, and important people who lived in the area,” she continued.
Caffrey agreed and added in a noticeable teacher’s tone, “It’s like being on a dig, as if you were an archeologist only without all the hard work of excavating,” she said. “We simply have to read it, and through this action we can go back in time.”

Both women agree they volunteer to give back what they feel they have received in their lives.

“Now that we don’t work, we can do the list of things we wanted to do back when we were too busy working. It’s as if every day is a Friday,” Spott said, flashing a smile followed by a few laughs.
The Lackawanna Historical Society was founded in 1886 to preserve the history of Lackawanna County.

It is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the county. Currently, the Lackawanna Historical Society has about 25 volunteers.
These men and woman do a variety of tasks, including conducting research, data entry, helping with mailings, preparing exhibits, cataloging collections, guiding tours, helping out with special events, and in doing so, help preserve the past for the present and the future.

For more information or if anyone is interested in volunteering, contact the Society at 344-3841.

Lackawanna Historical Society volunteers Joan Caffrey, left, and Barbara Spott met while teaching at Charles Sumner Elementary School.

Barry Strauss / for the Times Leader

 
 
Barbara Spott

Town of residence: Scranton

Occupation: Retired teacher, Charles Sumner Elementary School, West Scranton

Charities, volunteer work: Lackawanna Historical Society for 12 years, West Scranton Library and American Cancer Society

Education: Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, Marywood College; master’s degree in education from University of Scranton
Hobbies, interests: Reading

Favorite author: William Bernhardt


Joan Caffrey
Town of residence: Scranton

Occupation: Retired teacher, Charles Sumner Elementary School, West Scranton

Charities, volunteer work: Lackawanna Historical Society for 12 years, West Scranton Library and American Cancer Society

Education: Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Marywood College; master’s degree in education from Marywood College
Hobbies, interests: Reading, tutors reading

Favorite author: Loves mysteries, especially Ruth Rendell




Volunteer of the Week is a regular feature in The Times Leader Scranton Edition that recognizes individuals, businesses or other organizations for their volunteer efforts and contributions to their communities.

To nominate someone for this feature, e-mail mondrako@scrantonedition.com or call 558-0113
Copyright 2011 © The Lackawanna Historical Society, Scranton PA