A Day in the Life – Volunteering with Historic Alexandria Docents

By: Melissa Petersen
HAD Committee members at Lee-Fendall House during the New Docent Tour: Ginny Robbins, Sheena Pulealii, Kara Hughes, Tania Michelle Taylor, Melissa Petersen, Laura Lieberman.

When someone asks about a typical day as a Historic Alexandria Docents (HAD) volunteer, the short answer is that there is no typical day or volunteer shift. One reason is that we support four community partners in five different locations in Alexandria – Carlyle House, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Lee-Fendall House, and Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, and Mount Vernon. We help the properties and their staffs share their history and their programming with visitors.


Jinny Shen in the Lee-Fendall family parlor during Old Town Candlelight Tours

Although I’ve always enjoyed history, my years on the committee and volunteering at Mount Vernon have deepened that: seeing a child’s eyes light up upon sharing an interesting story or fact learned about the Washington family or U.S. history reminds me why museums and historic homes are so important.

Melissa Petersen and Melanie Loba-Shere with nosegays at Mount Vernon’s American Girl event.

Come visit us – you’ll see us leading tours, assisting with visitors and helping with special events (sometimes in costume) like Candlelight Tours (Sign up for Saturday, December 10!), Girl Scout Overnights, Mad Science, Pumpkin and Easter Egg Hunts, Scottish Heritage Outlander Day, and Fall Harvest Family Days. I may be biased, but I think you’ll have fun – and learn new things at the same time.

Maegan Keane, Melissa Petersen and Melissa Buchanan in front of the 16-sided barn on Mount Vernon’s Pioneer Farm for Fall Family Days.