Westmoreland County boasts incredible historical sites, museums, and societies. One of those historic sites, Bushy Run Battlefield, is a local treasure that is supported almost exclusively by volunteers. We were able to talk to two outstanding individuals who have been working with Bushy Run for many years now.
Melissa Fligger has been volunteering at Bushy Run for twelve years. Her journey began when the state nearly shut down the Battlefield in 2009.
“During that time, I attended a meeting which was called in response to the state nearly shutting us down. It really struck me what a disservice to the community that would have been. Growing up, I lived on the other side of the hill where the flags are flown. I would walk to the park frequently with my dad, and I had such positive memories of being there together. So, I figured I owed it to Bushy Run to help them out when they needed it the most.”
In 2013, when Bushy Run Battlefield was celebrating its 250th anniversary, Melissa experienced some of her favorite memories at the Battlefield.
“There were so many special activities happening throughout that anniversary weekend, and everything really brought the community together. I love being a part of the battle reenactments every year in general; it’s so interesting to spend time with the reenactors and get to know them and see what their lives are like. It’s even MORE fun watching families with young children interact with those reenactors and see them learn to love history.”
Balancing all of that fun with regulations, rules, and responsibilities is one of the most difficult parts of being such an involved volunteer.
“I’ve been on the board of directors since 2014 and served as vice president since 2018. I have also co-managed the gift shop since 2017. It’s often difficult to balance everything—state regulations, funding concerns, volunteer needs, desired programs and activities—and there are often delays or setbacks when trying to start something new. It is important to always keep channels of communication open between all members and keep working together towards our common goal of preserving history.”
Melissa encourages the community to volunteer their time and talent at Bushy Run Battlefield.
“We are always looking for help, especially from high school and college aged students. It is important that we keep encouraging our young community members to volunteer with us so that Bushy Run will continue to prosper well into the future. Also, you never know what doors your talent or area of interest will open, for both Bushy Run and yourself!”
“If you are not familiar with us already, please stop by and check out the Battlefield. Take a walk on one of our trails, or when the state allows us to open again, come into the museum and learn about the awesome artifacts we have on display!”
Bob DiFalco began volunteering with Bushy Run back in 2013.
“I did not know anyone at the site before I started volunteering at Bushy Run. I have an interest in history and I enjoy meeting people, so it was something I researched on my own. I was able to find information on their website, and I reached out and contacted the site to get started.”
Bob is one of Bushy Run’s tour guides, and he loves assisting new volunteers get the hang of the work.
“It’s so rewarding to assist the new guides. I am also proud and honored to have been nominated and voted onto the Bushy Run board of directors. I love all the volunteering because it’s great meeting visitors not only from the local area, but outside of Westmoreland County and even the state as well. It’s special to think they’ve taken time out of their busy schedules to visit Bushy Run, so I try to make their visit a memorable one. I’m very appreciative of the support from the general public.”
Of course, the pandemic has brought enormous challenges to Bushy Run and its volunteers.
“I think the pandemic has made the board think outside the box in different ways to conduct events (both new and existing ones), and especially how we can reach out and fundraise with the public. This whole experience has made us stronger, even though we miss being open and seeing our fellow volunteers and visitors throughout the week.”
Most importantly, Bob reminds us that you don’t necessarily need to be interested in history or the specific battle at Bushy Run to volunteer there.
“We are always looking for and appreciate volunteers who can bring their personal and professional experience to assist in a multitude of events and daily activities. You can volunteer as little or as much as you are able to. Also, if you live in the area, it’s truly a chance to give back to the community and keep local history alive for current and future generations. I find it rewarding to meet new people every time I’m on site, whether it’s a volunteer or a visitor. You’ll have a great experience with everyone you meet.”
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at Bushy Run Battlefield, please contact Bushy Run’s board president, Bonnie Ramus, at firstname.lastname@example.org.