Gayle Dodson - Volunteer Coordinator Honored
52 Faces of Midland
Midland Reporter Telegram
May 26, 2015
Community involvement: George W. Bush Childhood Home volunteer coordinator for nine years; chairwoman of the Daughters of the American Revolution Col. Theunis Dey Chapter’s Fourth of July Children’s Parade for 41 years; four-year member of the Midland Chamber of Commerce’s Star-Spangled Salute committee; 41-year member, 4-year-old Sunday School teacher and God Bless Midland campaign member at First United Methodist Church; Girl Scout troop leader for 13 years and Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest Woman of Distinction; 16-year member of the Midland ISD PTAs and Midland City Council PTA; president of the Kappa Delta alumnae chapter; and member of the Midland County Republican Women.
What have you gained through your volunteer experiences?
I have gained bushels of friends from all walks of life who care about Midland just as I do. Just being associated with other volunteers has broadened my horizon in witnessing the commitment of leadership in all areas of volunteerism. Such as the Star-Spangled Salute committee – every member is committed to this patriotic event six months before the Fourth of July to enhance the love for America.
The George W. Bush Childhood Home is showing the world through docent tours that Midland is the hometown of our former president and how proud we are. Midland is unique in community involvement, and it is a free education for the volunteer. Teaching 4-year-olds in Sunday School for 41 years (and second generation) is the best experience that continues today.
For someone else looking to make a difference but doesn't know how, what would you recommend?
I would suggest they read the Reporter-Telegram to see what is listed, ask at their church if they need volunteers, get involved with the PTA if they have school children, and join groups of interest that will welcome volunteers. Word of mouth will even tell more – ask friends or even new acquaintances. Make a list of what you find then choose what you want to pursue. A small act of kindness is just as important as a big volunteer job.
What is your favorite memory from volunteering in Midland?
My favorite memory involves children and patriotism. When I volunteered 41 years ago to be the chairwoman of the annual Fourth of July Children's Parade, sponsored by my DAR chapter, Col. Theunis Dey, I had 30 children dressed in red, white and blue with decorated sidewalk vehicles parading through Wadley-Barron Park. Last year there were nearly 700 parading through downtown Midland. Just before the parade began, a young mother ran up to me to tell me that she had been in the parade as a child and now her child was in it. Her excitement and enthusiasm warmed my heart. Adding to this memory was when my 1- year-old grandson flew in from Phoenix to be in the 50th anniversary parade with his sign, “Happy 50th, DAR! I came all the way from Phoenix to be in this parade!” My daughter had another sign, “I have waited all of my life to put my child in this parade, but we have to fly home in the morning!!”
How long has Midland been your home and why have you stayed?
Since 1961 when I graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and chose Midland to begin my teaching career in second grade at Burnet Elementary. I got as close to Reagan County (Big Lake) as I could, as that is where I grew up. I have stayed because I love it now just as I did then. I was born with a volunteer, a patriotic and a West Texas spirit. The man I married loved Midland, too, and we have been married 51 years with two daughters and four grandchildren. God bless Midland.
“A MOST GRACIOUS AND SELFLESS PERSON”
Gayle offered to volunteer at the George W. Bush Childhood Home even before it opened to the public in April 2006. When the board and staff realized how connected to our community she was, they asked her to coordinate a group of volunteers to provide tours and help run the gift shop. She has been doing that proudly and effectively for more than nine years.
Gayle has been an active volunteer and leader for several events and organizations over the last 50 years. In her capacity as our volunteer coordinator, she helps recruit new volunteers, oversees a group of 40 volunteers and works with their schedules to ensure that the museum is adequately staffed. This involves many hours of calling, texting and emailing each week and often on short notice. While we are happy with volunteers who can work once each month, Gayle volunteers as a docent each week, in addition to the time she spends on scheduling. She also serves on our board of directors.
Gayle is one of the most gracious and selfless people with whom I have ever worked. It has been my honor to have worked alongside her for my seven years at the George W. Bush Childhood Home.
Paul St. Hilaire, George W. Bush Childhood Home executive director
“A MODEL FOR ALL VOLUNTEERS”
Writing a letter of recommendation for Gayle Dodson for the Reporter-Telegram’s 52 Faces has been a delightful trip down memory lane for me. Some of the happiest years of my 52-year public school career were spent as the instructional services director at Midland High School and as the MISD social studies director. Why? Two reasons: the academic challenges as well as the association with many community volunteers who willingly donated countless service hours to campus and district projects. Gayle quickly became identified as a parent leader for volunteers.
In today's world of student performance standards, administrators must depend upon community and parent volunteers to offer complete academic and activity programs. At Midland High, Gayle and volunteers assisted me with countless details such as invitations, greeters, programs, and refreshments associated with campus open houses, National Honor Society, homecoming and Catoico Courts, Showcases (student performance evenings) and the Christmas tree. No task was ever too small to be insignificant or too large to be intimidating for Gayle and parent volunteers.
At the central office, one of my most rewarding projects became the museum tours that enhanced locally developed curriculum at The Haley Library, The Scarborough/Linebery House, The Petroleum Museum, The Museum of the Southwest, The Confederate Air Force Museum, and The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Knowing my interest in museum studies, Gayle, as docent coordinator for The George W. Bush Childhood Home, invited me to join a small committee to write the script for the current Bush tour. We worked steadily for several months to develop a narrative that matched state social studies standards and personalized the Bush family as Midlanders. Throughout the process, Gayle was devoted to injecting historical accuracy and facts that connected the Bush family to visitors of all ages. In charge of 40 docents today, her enthusiastic role is absolutely critical to the continued success of the presidential home. Gayle Dodson is a model for all volunteers.
Patty Smith, retired MISD social studies director
“A TRUE MIDLANDER”
Gayle is a true Midlander! She volunteers as the head docent at the George W. Bush Childhood Home, she has been the head of the Fourth of July Children's Parade for the past 40 years, and she has been a Sunday School teacher at First United Methodist Church for the past 40-plus years. She is also involved with the DAR and is the president of her college sorority alumni association. She also has four grandchildren. All this and she is turning 76 this year.
Lisa Bernreuther, George W. Bush Childhood Home volunteer
Read more: 52 FACES: Gayle Dodson, George W. Bush Childhood Home volunteer coordinator - MRT.com: Know A Volunteer? http://www.mrt.com/52faces/article_cf214a26-f59a-11e4-a144-dfd137e343a9.html#ixzz3bFLSluF1
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Tues–Sat 10 AM – 5 PM, Sun 2–5 PM
Tours given until 4:30 PM
Closed Mondays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day
1412 West Ohio Avenue
Midland, Texas 79701
Phone: (432) 685-1112