January 14, 2021
Last year undoubtedly was the most difficult experience this organization has encountered in our history. The Covid-19 Virus has changed our lives and interfered with our plans for 2020, but it did not stop us from functioning. I am extremely proud of our Officers, Board of Directors and members who have met the challenge and continued to move the AFHM forward. We will now begin to focus on the coming year and plan for a brighter future.
Roy Plummer stayed engaged with the Burlington Mercer Regional Chamber continuing to promote the Armed Forces Heritage Museum. He continued to seek support by submitting grant requests and seeking recognition for our organization. We were successful in receiving an award from the Burlington County Historical Society and it was presented at the meeting in November at the Deerwood Country Club. Roy also initiated a solicitation for donations programs that were successful in raising resources for our operating fund. His efforts are deeply appreciated.
Bob Vonbargen continues to do an outstanding job in executing the Living History Program. His coordination with Caddis Art in releasing serialization episodes continues to provide excellent segments that promotes the mission of the AFHM. The “Greatest Generations” World War II video is completed, and we will develop a plan to promote it through the Social Media and live presentations when the pandemic restrictions are lifted. Work has begun on the Korean War segment and Stanley Levin is assisting Bob in developing the program.
Oren Carrol caried out multitude of tasks throughout the year prior to encountering a medical situation. He has been the “Go to Guy” for all our technical requirements and performed in an outstanding fashion as the Treasurer keeping us informed of all the financial transactions which occurred during the year. Mick Shanklin has accepted the role of assistant to the Treasurer and has accomplished all necessary financial matters until Oren can accept this responsibility full time. Mick and I also visited the TD Bank and established us as authorized agents for the AFHM. Please keep Oren in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
Oren and Bryan Branson have managed the Mobile Museum (Mini Mo) in an outstanding fashion. They have arranged for electric door lifters and several other enhancements to make the trailer safer and easier to operate. We are now able to set up the trailer with a minimum of two people. Matt Wick has volunteered to handle the scheduling and request for members to assist with scheduled events.
Joanne Tilghman has accepted the chairmanship of the Membership Committee. She, Sandy Conville, Oren Carrol and Bob Dutko have taken on the management of the membership program. Joanne has developed letters to notify members when they need to renew their membership. The committee has also developed a Thank You letter for renewing their membership. Oren continues to maintain the roster and assist with updating the rosters. We will be discussing how to increase the membership of the AFHM. The Life Membership program has grown in 2020 and we now have 15 Life Members. This provides immediate monetary resources for the AFHM, but we should consider how to best utilize these resources for the long term.
Marc Iroff has performed the duties of the Secretary in an outstanding fashion. His timely release of the minutes of the meetings keeps us informed on the activities and necessary actions in order to focus on requirements which must be accomplished. Marc has not sought to continue as the Secretary, but he continues to handle those duties until Oren Carrol can return to handling the Treasure duties full time. Mick Shanklin will then assume the duties of the Secretary on a permanent basis. Thanks to all concerned for stepping up to make this happen.
Glenn Hyman has established a Veterans interview program with Mark Kraemer. The first live program featured Major Ron Hathaway it was an excellent event. Bob Vonbargen has provided Glenn with several Veterans who be candidates for programs in the future. This is a terrific initiative that will allow us to fulfill our Mission to Honor, Preserve and Educate the public on the rich military history of New Jersey and surrounding regions.
We have established a contract with Caddis Art, Inc. to handle our social media programs and management of the Web Site. Sandy Conville is the focal point for handling all actions with this company and is performing in an excellent fashion. Bob Vonbargen is also assisting by providing Living History information for posting on the Facebook Page. We anticipate this will increase our sense of awareness and increase our fund-raising activities.
In November I signed an Occupancy Relationship Agreement with the Burlington County Historical Society for use of the Lawrence House, located on High Street in the city of Burlington. There are repairs required to the water and sewer lines and heating and air conditioning. While this is taking place, we have been allowed to start moving AFHM material into the building. There is planning taking place on how the facility will be utilized. Roy Plummer and Marc Marasco are working on display material for the building. Roy has begun to utilize the information to obtain grant funding for the displays. His will finally provide the AFHM with an operating location which will enhance our ability to solicit resources to support the organization. We are planning to schedule a Grand Opening in the Spring of 2021.
I wish to thank all the members who continue to raise funding and provide monetary support to the AFHM. Frank Grochal’s generous donations has inspired us to contribute to the wellness of the organization. He has been driving force in the development of the Mobile Museum and his efforts are appreciated. This coming year will provide many challenges but with a combined team effort we will continue to be successful in promoting the mission of the AFHM.
Robert S. Dutko Sr.