This September the Lemelson Center wanted to spend a little extra time saying “thank you” to our fabulous Spark!Lab volunteers by hosting a dinner in their honor. Staff and volunteers gathered for an evening to meet, greet, chat, and share some very well-deserved kudos for these generous and talented people who make the space a wonderful place to explore innovations and see everyone as inventive.
In the first year since Spark!Lab opened, our goal was to build up a corps of volunteers to at least make the space operational. But this year far exceeded our expectations. We’ve brought on 87 volunteers, who have given over 6,000 hours of their time and countless moments of inspiration to our nearly 300,000 visitors so far. However, even with these impressive numbers, the value these individuals provide is beyond measure.
Working with the volunteers is the highlight of my job. I recruit and train all the candidates who are interested in our work and want to be a part of our mission. I’m always blown away by the diversity of backgrounds, careers, and interests that bring people together in Spark!Lab, from engineers, educators, college students, attorneys, scientists, artists, historians, etc. It demonstrates so well the interdisciplinary nature of invention and our collective goal to give the next generation a glimpse into the possibilities for innovation no matter what they do.
Our volunteers are also a key component in continuing to make Spark!Lab better behind-the-scenes. We ask for their feedback constantly, involve them in staff projects we think might fit their expertise and offer continued training opportunities when possible. Going forward, we will keep this momentum alive by adding new volunteers and new voices to the process of invention we live out in Spark!Lab every day.
So the next time you come to Spark!Lab, look for those yellow aprons and say hello! I encourage you to stop and chat with the friendly faces you see at the front door, or when you are working on an activity and need a sounding board for your inventive idea… these are our volunteers! We are proud to call them colleagues and, as their new t-shirts say, fellow staff members. We couldn’t do our work without them! Spark!Lab volunteers, we THANK YOU!!!