As manager of volunteer services for the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Kandice Fambro interacts with and develops programming for the corps of 200 dedicated docents and volunteers that have generously given their time to the museum over the years.
She created a family environment for the many who gave tours, led student field trips and guided patrons on the institute’s exhibit floor.
However, last year, after the temporary shutdown of the museum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fambro quickly sprang into action to keep enthusiastic docents engaged and apprised of museum happenings.
“It was tough because so many of our volunteers were separated from the work they love, the cause they believe in and the friends they’ve made working toward that common goal,” she said. “But we started to rebuild the sense of family after initiating several projects to slowly reconnect the bonds.”
Through personalized phone calls, a monthly digital newsletter and a new docent video initiative, Fambro and museum staff hoped to keep docents up to date with projects underway behind the scenes.
“I know what this place can be, and all this work is worth it.”
Kandice Fambro, Manager, Volunteer Services
“Although the doors were closed, we were still working hard both from home and at the building to review the collection and maintain the building,” Fambro said.
Museum staff initiated a cleanup project in fall 2020 to evaluate the museum’s collections, space usage, and material from the past 50 years. Fambro used her skillset in artifact handling, cataloging and upkeep to lend a hand with the project. She assisted with a museum store inventory, a move and cleanup of the collections room and an assessment of the exhibit floor.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “My day-to-day is 90 percent physical, but we’re clearing the way so we can build a museum to serve a new generation of Texans.”
Maintaining relationships with volunteers and docents is still a main focus for Fambro, and it’s an ongoing effort. She looks forward to the time when they can all return to the museum and share the experience with the community again.
“I know what this place can be, and all this work is worth it,” she said. “Our docents are the lifeblood of the institute, and our hope is that volunteers can return soon to continue the great work they do in sharing the story of the Texan experience.”