Volunteers, Videos & Vision - A letter and updates from our Executive Director

Dear Members & Friends,

Looking back on the last seven weeks I am filled with gratitude for the many projects that our team here at the Barberville Pioneer Settlement has accomplished.

The biggest project was tackling our “blockhouse”. This storage building contains hundreds of items that we use during our educational programs. The building was completely emptied and cleaned, and all of the items were sorted, organized, labeled, and returned. This was truly a team effort!

Other projects that have been achieved include: masks were made; looms were warped; buildings, ramps and steps repaired and painted; the summer kitchen was cleaned and organized; the sugar cane field was weeded; the garden planted and cared for; a new septic lid was designed and built; items were made to sell in our store; animals were cared for; and all the while social distancing guidelines were in place.

In addition and with our passion to uphold our mission of sharing history, we have been producing virtual mini field trip videos. The idea is that teachers and parents can utilize the videos for students who are now learning at home. The first video was recorded live on Facebook at the Lewis Log Cabin. It was fun but with a bit of a hiccup in the beginning. By accident I hit the LIVE button and didn't know it for a minute or so! YIKES!

The following week during our live broadcast, things were going well for about the first four minutes as we were featuring the Midway Methodist Church. Unfortunately, we encountered a reception issue due to weak internet service and cloudy weather. Needless to say that episode required a retake and the decision was made, from then on to record the programs in advance. You are going to love the recording of the model train ride-along in the Pierson Train Station episode.

Joanna Demarest our tour guide and resident storyteller has been digging into or archives for content that you don't normally find on a visit here. This week’s topic is the Astor Bridge Tender’s House. Learn about the dramatic shooting that took place there and the story behind how the Bridge House was moved to the Settlement’s property.

We have learned much in the last few weeks through our trials and tribulations of navigating the virtual video world. I invite you to watch and share our “History Matters” playlists which you can find on Facebook or YouTube. Join us each Thursday at noon as we premiere our new episodes on Facebook.

As I look forward to opening our doors our number one priority remains the safety of our staff, volunteers, and visitors. Our re-opening plan includes implementing precautions including providing a protective barrier in the front office, adding additional handwashing stations around the grounds, roping off more of our smaller buildings, and limiting some access to maintain the six-foot social distancing rule.

Our operating hours will also be limited to Thursday through Sunday and most likely will remain that way throughout the summer season. We are planning to bring only two part-time staff members back on payroll and we hope as usual to utilize volunteers when and wherever we can. I applied for government assistance and received a response yesterday stating that our application is being processed.

There is much uncertainty about what the future holds for field trips and festivals. We have heard that if schools were to reopen in August that field trips would not be allowed. We are holding on to hope to have gatherings and festivals once again this fall but no one really knows.

The Settlement cannot survive on daily walk-in admissions alone, so now more than ever fundraising is going to be our lifeline.

Many of you have already come through for us by donating to our Fund the Gap campaign and I am so grateful to share that you have made it possible for us to exceed our original goal of $16,500.00 and we rose to over $22,500.00. Thanks to all of you that have donated, some of you twice! And a few awesome folks who have set-up recurring monthly donations through our PayPal account.

As your donations continue to come in we are excited to also share that we have a new matching challenge! A supporter and dear friend of the Settlement has stepped up and agreed to match up to another $6,000.00.

Fund the Gap donations between now and May 31st up to $6,000 will be doubled!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5, 2020 we are participating in a new global day of giving and unity that will take place. This #GivingTuesdayNow campaign is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. It is an opportunity for us all to come together to create a wave of generosity, citizen engagement, action from business and philanthropy, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.

Please consider making a gift to The Barberville Pioneer Settlement on this day. This crisis has had a devastating effect on us all. We need your help now more than ever. We invite you to take a look at what it takes for us to operate, to keep history alive, and our doors open.

Those not in a position to help financially right now or maybe you have already given – you can still help us out. We are counting on your grassroots efforts to spread our message to a much larger audience! Please share our story and our videos with others.

Thank you for your continued support of the Barberville Pioneer Settlement and for your comments and feedback. They really do keep me hopeful for what the future holds.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other. I can't wait for the day when we welcome you all back to Barberville again!

With deep gratitude,

Debra West

PS Special thanks to Jonathan & Joanna, Cire & Mary, Richard & Rhonda, Dennis & Andrea, Jay & Laverne, Erick & Echo, Mike, Gudrun, Heinrich, Su, Jenna, Matt, Erick, Lyle, Jack and Stan and to our many other supporters and volunteers - too many to mention - for their dedication of time and talents towards supporting the mission of the Barberville Pioneer Settlement. It is my belief that we are only as good as the people that represent us. Each of you has contributed your own unique talents to the good of the Settlement and for that I am grateful. :)

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1776 Lightfoot Lane
Barberville, Florida 32105


Phone: 386-749-2959
Fax. 386-749-2087




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