Today I am highlighting Suzette and Blair Brumbaugh. Suzette and Blair have been working as maintenance volunteers at Fort Frederica National Monument since the beginning of December. They had intended to come down in November, but Blair had some health issues that delayed their arrival.
Suzette and Blair Brumbaugh have a house in York, Pennsylvania. Tom and I are familiar with York after doing genealogical research there. In their pre-retirement lives Blair owned a repair shop for cars, trucks, and RVs and Suzette was a kindergarten teacher. They retired in 2004 and hit the road. They have always liked to travel and have owned different kinds of RVs their entire married life. Currently they alternate between an Excel Winslow 5th wheel and a truck camper. When they are volunteering someplace they take the 5th wheel and when they are sightseeing they take the truck camper.
Suzette and Blair have quite a bit of volunteering experience, although this is their first time volunteering at a National Park site. They previously volunteered at Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Historic Site, which is just up the road north of Brunswick. But the Georgia state parks have a rule that you can only volunteer in one place for three years in a row, so the Brumbaughs had to find a new place to volunteer this winter.
In addition to Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, they have also volunteered at Magnolia Springs State Park in Georgia. They return to Golden Hill State Park every summer to do a month of volunteering at the lighthouse on the shore of Lake Ontario. Suzette and Blair prefer the state parks to national parks because you work fewer hours at the state parks. But they are glad to have the experience at Fort Frederica. They really like volunteering in coastal Georgia in the winter because the weather is so much better than it is at home in Pennsylvania.
As maintenance volunteers, Suzette and Blair spent most of December and January picking up Spanish Moss. They weren’t trained on any of the other park equipment. Just when they were getting really bored and fed up, Tom and I came along with lots of ideas of other things they could do. Suzette is now spending hours each week taking care of the butterfly and colonial gardens. Blair has a list of woodworking projects to do for living history and for the bookstore. We are trying to make their lives a little more interesting!
Suzette and Blair both enjoy photography and we often see them around the park taking pictures of various interesting things that are going on. They are preparing some pictures that will be used on new postcards for Fort Frederica. I’m sure their pictures will also be used on the park’s webpage and on Facebook.
We are living directly across from the Brumbaughs, and we often see them out doing various projects. They have several bird feeders and we enjoy watching the cardinals, jays, sparrows, and wrens that stop by. They also have a smoker and they recently smoked some pork shoulder that made excellent pulled pork. They invited everyone to stop by for lunch which was the biggest social gathering we have had among the volunteers. Suzette gave me a pound of the pulled pork that I used in Brunswick Stew when I was doing living history.
We are enjoying working with Suzette and Blair and getting to know them better. Suzette says the social aspects of volunteering are their favorite thing about it. They have made so many good friends during the years they have volunteered. Blair says their social life is more lively here in Georgia than it is back in Pennsylvania.