Stories of Naperville

Feb 16

[ARCHIVED] Volunteers share the past with visitors at Naper Settlement

The original item was published from February 16, 2016 12:59 PM to February 16, 2016 1:00 PM

Eight years ago, Cecilia Filas read an article in a local newspaper about the need for volunteers at Naper Settlement. At the volunteer information session, she met museum educators who were encouraging and enthusiastic in explaining the various opportunities.

Today, she volunteers as a building interpreter primarily at the Paw Paw Post Office, but she also has portrayed Naperville pioneer Clarissa Hobson during a Cemetery Walk. The retired educator and software engineer enjoys learning the history, then interpreting it and interacting with the visitors.

“The training I received in 2008 was great,” she said. “The information provided for the volunteers to interpret is invaluable.”
Cecilia Filas Teens entering grades 9 to 12 and adults are invited to attend an informational meeting about becoming a History Connector or Building Interpreter either from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 or from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at Naper Settlement’s Meeting House, corner of Webster Street and Porter Avenue in Naperville.

History Connectors work with visitors at special hands-on activity stations, Settlement Sundays, summer camp, Scouting programs and more. Adults ages 18 and older can volunteer as Building Interpreters to tell the stories of the past and how they relate to the present inside the museum’s historic buildings. Period clothing is an option for most building interpreters, but is required for blacksmith and schoolhouse interpreters.

Alison Keppler enjoyed visiting Naper Settlement with her family so much that when she was completing fourth grade, she became a Junior on the Green volunteer. The Juniors, dressed in period clothing like overalls and dresses with petticoats, play typical games and do chores and activities of the past.

“I really enjoy interacting with different people,” she said. “I like finding out where the visitors come from to see us. Last year, there were people from Oregon and Europe who came to learn about the old-fashioned games.”

Parents are an essential part of the juniors’ volunteer experience and Alison’s mom, Amy, is proud of her daughter’s commitment to the community.

“The parent training is important because you get a good understanding of what your child is going to be doing,” Amy said. “My advice to parents is to learn what you can, listen to their stories when they are finished with their shift, and enjoy this part of their development as they gain confidence about their place in the world.”

AlisonChildren in grades 4 to 7 are invited to join the Juniors volunteer program. Junior volunteers must attend one customer service training session, either from 10 to 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 or from 1 to 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. New junior parents must attend one meeting, either 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 or at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. 

Volunteer training will take place throughout the winter to prepare for the summer season, which begins April 1.

For more information about volunteering, visit, call (630) 305-5256 or e-mail

“We rely on our volunteers to provide a wonderful experience for our museum visitors,” said Naper Settlement’s Lead Museum Educator Cindy Lackore. “The ‘face’ of Naper Settlement that a guest connects with includes the warm welcomes and friendly smiles of our enthusiastic volunteers.”