My journey to the National Park Service began when I was a sophomore in high school. My first job in the United States was with Lowell NHP. I was hired to do maintenance work with the Spindle City Corps, a youth partnership program in the city. Then, as I continued volunteering at the National Park Service, I found enjoyment in being able to talk to visitors about the city I live in and its history.
As a CVA, between attending community events, doing outreach, and training student interns, I often have my hands full. But I enjoy every minute. When I found out about my selection to serve as the park CVA, I was very excited. I knew what my first project was going to be right away. I think of service as the ability to give someone else the opportunity to be recognized. In my role as the CVA, I wanted to honor those who serve with me at the park. The members of the Volunteers-in-Parks program (VIPs) at LNHP share Lowell’s wonderful history of the textile industry, cultural heritage, and its beautiful legacy across all divisions. Through bi-weekly social media posts, I have highlighted the work of these volunteers. In each post, we share one individual’s story, why they serve, and what brought them to Lowell. This is our way to publicly thank them for their efforts and to provide the public with the opportunity to do the same through comments.
Over the last 5 months, we have posted 9 volunteers’ stories. These posts have all received very positive attention and feedback. In a world of partnerships, I could not ask for a better place to be a Community Volunteer Ambassador in than Lowell. Our efforts to connect the community to their VIPs has been a tremendous success.
In addition to the wonderful volunteer spotlight posts, I have worked closely with youth programs run through partnerships between the Lowell NHP and Community Teamwork. For two weeks, I trained two groups of interns through sightseeing, program development, site staffing and simple interactions with visitors. What we hope for these teenagers is that through their work here at LNHP, they will develop skills for public speaking, problem solving, networking, and more, which they can use in their professional and personal lives.
I am proud to say that I have been able to use my time wisely thus far in my role as a CVA at LNHP. Throughout the first half of my service term, I have become a better communicator. I also now have a greater understanding of our VIPs, what they represent to the park, and to the people they serve.
Written by Olf Mouyaka, CVA at Lowell National Historical Park