Annual Report for 2021

Board of Directors, members, and friends,

While we did not want to kick off 2022 with a postponed event, welcome to our Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony. I have been asked to present the annual report of West Volusia Historical Society. I am glad to report that despite two years of challenges that the global pandemic has presented us, we are still here and in a strong position to welcome a new “normal” and resume some of our favorite Society activities.

In 2021, the volunteers that keep West Volusia Historical Society running moved mountains. We continued to meet and work using online platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live. We increased our digital presence with enhancements to our website, regular historical Facebook posts, enriched our Keeping Track of West Volusia online newsletter with articles housed on our website, and held virtual and hybrid monthly Local History Talks. We held our first ever Used Book and Media Sale in February. Through the Spring and again in the Fall, we offered walking tours developed by volunteers Caryn Long and Stan O’Neal. We were able to reopen the Conrad Center for researchers, History Seekers kids’ workshops, Makers Guild, and other small meetings. Over the summer, volunteers brought to life Bert Fish and Edith Starke during our Pavilion Chats at Bill Dreggors Park.

During this time, volunteers also assisted during a review of our historic newspaper holdings, to assess what has been digitized through the Volusia County Library and how we can better preserve and make accessible the newsprint in our collections. As we approached the Fall, our Makers Guild began cranking out a variety of handcrafted gifts for the Christmas in Bloom pre-sale event and Christmas in Bloom. We wrapped up 2021 with what many members called the best Holiday Party and Election ever - held at the Lake Beresford Yacht Club. Many thanks yet again to Maureen Kemp of Kemp Realty Group for her generous sponsorship.

2021 was a year of a lot of behind-the-scenes work as the pandemic kept us from safely meeting and conducting our business as we had in years past. Over 7,000 volunteer hours were reported. Of that 7,000 thousand, 3 individual volunteers recorded over a thousand hours each, and I’m sure that there were many other volunteers that have not yet reported their hours—Our volunteers kept WVHS going despite the waves of Covid variants that impacted us all. This was a year we elected to continue to do what we can outdoors or online so that we could safely continue to Preserve and Promote the History of West Volusia County.

Despite not hosting the usual number of special events as in previous years, our members held strong. Through this pandemic we have maintained our membership numbers, with 247 members recorded in December. Our Treasurer, Jolie Kelly, reported that our membership revenues increased from 2020 by 62%. 2021 was another year of Covid with limited tours, events, and services -- yet our operating revenues reached 94% of our anticipated operating budget, ending our year with an operating net income of $4,975.

2021 was also a year we decided to turn inwards and examine what could be done while closed to enhance experiences upon reopening. This meant not only working to refresh exhibits at the DeLand Memorial Hospital Museum, but our major project: DeLand House: Heritage. Community. Legacy. A project not just to repair, refresh, and re-interpret our DeLand House and its tour, but one to examine DeLand House as the essential spirit of DeLand and West Volusia. A tangible space to learn our shared heritage. How DeLand House shapes our sense of community. And the legacy of progress and resilience that DeLand House shows through its existence and the stories of those who lived in the home. Members and Friends, we have raised $59,142 so far for DeLand House. We are also excitedly researching Dr. Charles and Alma Farriss, who lived in DeLand House from 1903 until Alma’s death in 1944. The refreshed DeLand House and the tour will feature the Farriss family and bring to life what DeLand and West Volusia were like during the Progressive Era.

While working on our DeLand House and preparing it to reopen for visitors is something we are looking forward to in 2023, I am happy to say we have more in store this year. Volunteers led by Deborah McShane are busily planning for the return of our Tour of Historic Homes in December. We are relaunching our Bus tour of DeLand, Lake Helen, and Cassadaga. We are returning to in-person monthly Local History Talks with mix and mingle time. We are preparing for our Cemetery Walk and many re-enactments. This is only a small sampling of what we have in store for a year where we feel it will be safe to gather in community again to preserve and promote the History of West Volusia County.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for the West Volusia Historical Society. Yet you our members, volunteers, friends have kept our organization moving forward. We have a very exciting and busy year ahead of us - not only do we plan a return of our Home Tour and other in-person events, but also we will prepare for our 50th anniversary year in 2023. I challenge each of you to ask yourself how you can help the West Volusia Historical Society as we return to our events and activities. The gift of time and talent will make an ambitious year with major events and projects, a reality. In 2021 West Volusia Historical Society continued to confront challenges and have a very successful year. I know through the work of our volunteers, we will continue our successes in 2022. Thank you.

WVHS Executive Director, Sarah Thorncroft

Address of the Executive Director

Annual General Membership Meeting, February 28, 2022