Presidentís Report Ė May 2005

By Ira Pollack, President

 

††††††††††† For this monthís column I was interviewed by the editor, and the following is the result:

 

What was the reason you first became involved with the Danbury Railway Museum?

††††††††††† Ever since I can remember Iíve had a love of trains and heavy equipment. When I heard the Museum was starting up, I had to be a part of it. I thought that this was the greatest thing to happen in Danbury. In my memory the station and yard had always been rundown, and someone was taking the initiative to rebuild it.

 

Why do you continue being involved?

††††††††††† I feel that a lot of time and effort has been expended, and I have a vision that I have to see through. Someday Iíd like to see this organization handed down to the next generation. I get a good feeling of accomplishment by being able to work together with our other volunteers to reach our goals. Look at what we just did!

 

What has been most exciting or satisfying for you?

†††††††††† Itís hard to answer this. Of course, when we acquire more equipment to enhance our collection, itís exciting, uplifting, and refreshing to see a new piece. Thereís a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in knowing that youíve found this piece of equipment and managed to bring it in. I think the most satisfying is seeing the building and yard filled with people, and seeing the families enjoying themselves, learning about what we do here. Thereís definitely a higher level of energy and excitement on event days when we have a great number of visitors to the Museum. Part of the satisfaction is being able to make a difference and help this organization grow as a Museum.

 

What do you find frustrating?

††††††††††† With all of the satisfaction involved, there is also a very high level of frustration for me. There is a constant challenge of keeping members interested in the growth of the Museum, to keep projects moving to completion, and to make sure that things are still fresh. My frustration is there constantly. One of the big frustrations is that I want our goals to happen immediately, and with most of these there is a very long time element, and continual follow-up needed to move them forward. What makes me feel better is when I see or hear compliments about what weíve done in the short time weíve been here.

 

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the DRM?

††††††††††† Right now I think our biggest challenge is to have the Board of Directors and the membership fully pursue the strategic business plan, to become involved in it, and to see our goals through to completion. We can accomplish these goals, but there must be a higher level of commitment from everyone involved. I believe that the success of this plan is crucial to the Museumís future and growth. Another big challenge for the Museum is incorporating more new members into our volunteer force. With more people active in the Museum, it would make it easier to pursue our goals. We need to reach out to the membership, to fit volunteersí interests and skills to the needs of the Museumís. No matter how successful our events are, we are always looking to improve them.

 

How is the Museum working to meet these?

††††††††††† We are reaching out to our membership to support our new goals. As we grow we hope our membership involvement will grow, and that we can integrate our new members into our work force. I have repeatedly said that our members determine the level of success of our Museum. Over the past several years, we have tried to standardize a training program for operators. We now have a safety program, and shortly will have a procedural manual to help train our staff. It is very important to let our volunteers know what to expect from the Museum and vice versa. Also, after each event we review it, discussing how to make it even better next time.

 

Whatís exciting that will happen in the near future?

††††††††††† Weíve been expanding our marketing program, and begun looking at new and different events. This season at least two new events will attract visitors with more diversified interests. We have to continually expand our horizons and look at new ways to attract guests. Iím very excited by the Meserve grant, which allows us to pursue interactive exhibits with a real budget. Itís always exciting to pursue getting new equipment. We hope to have a new piece of equipment to display in the yard soon. We are growing and reaching a point where we can pursue our really big goals and aspirations.