Community locations provide volunteer opportunities

Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmore Drive, provides shelter, meals and life skill programs for those in need.

Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmore Drive, provides shelter, meals and life skill programs for those in need.

By Noah Johnson

As students prepare for the school year ahead, many may seek volunteer work or internship opportunities for the sake of professional development or personal fulfillment.

Students can find such opportunities at The Glidden Homestead, The Ellwood House or Hope Haven.

Joseph F. Glidden Homestead and Historical Center, 912 W. Lincoln Highway

The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead welcomes students interested in volunteering or interning at its Historical Center. Executive Director Robert Glover said the amount of opportunities at The Homestead are vast and flexible. They are willing to work with students whose interests lie beyond history and museum management, he said.

The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead was built by Glidden and his wife Lucinda in 1861, consisting of their home as well as a brick barn in which Joseph worked, according to the Glidden Homestead website. Here Joseph created “the winner”– an easily producible barbed wire that went on to influence all of the Western United States, Janice Devore, president of the Homestead’s board of directors, said.

“Barbed wire is a big part of DeKalb’s history, and Joseph Glidden was directly involved. [He was] the reason for barbed wire becoming so connected to DeKalb,” Devore said.

Glover spoke of the widespread influence of Glidden’s invention for farmers and businessmen alike.

“Even in their own time, they considered it the most important thing to happen in the development of the United States with the exception of the railroad,” Glover said. .

In contemporary times, The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead serves as a museum for the community, showing citizens the history of DeKalb’s development through the nationally registered site. They are open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., year-round.

If interested, contact Executive Director Robert Glover at 815-756-7904.

The Ellwood House: Museum and Park, 509 N. First St.

The Ellwood House offers opportunities for students willing to volunteer as tour guides and staff to help with various events held on the grounds. In addition to volunteers, The Ellwood House also offers internship opportunities.

“[The house] reflects the central role of Isaac Ellwood in the development of the barbed wire industry in America. The magnificent estate testifies to his aptitude for business and the breadth of his vision,” according to The Ellwood House website.

Assistant Director Scott Tews said the house was built in 1879 and was owned by the Ellwood family until 1965. Ellwood built the mansion with the wealth he accumulated from his partnership with Glidden, Tews said.

Tews detailed how Ellwood and Glidden’s barbed wire company affected the formation of DeKalb and NIU.

“There are interesting connections between the barbed wire industry taking off and the university ending up in DeKalb,” Tews said. “At that time, there were other cities in consideration for hosting the school, and I think it was some of that influence from the barbed wire industry that was one of the main reasons NIU ended up being in DeKalb.”

Today, the Ellwood House is a historical museum that offers guided tours, conveying a huge portion of the original artifacts that belonged to the family while also providing historical context. The grounds surrounding the park are open to the public, often hosting events such as festivals and weddings. The tour schedule can be found on the Ellwood House Website under the ‘visit’ tab.

Students interested in working with The Ellwood House can either go on their website and click the ‘get involved’ tab or contact Tews at 815-756-4609.

Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmore Drive

Hope Haven invites students interested in social work to help out whenever they can. Volunteers may clean up the facility or aid the Hope Haven staff in other tasks when needed.

Hope Haven began in 1986 as a homeless shelter to those in need around DeKalb county. The website details resources Hope Haven offers, including Life Training Skills and Rapid Re-housing, according to the Hope Haven website.

Andrew Weisgerber, case manager and life skills trainer,explained the importance of Hope Haven for the DeKalb area.

“Just this month, there was an entire factory that closed down. People get down on their luck, and that can lead to a lot of homelessness,” Weisgerber said. “So having a shelter like this where people can come in and get job resources, housing resources and everything like that is really important, especially for this area which isn’t like a big city area.”