Meet Our Volunteers
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any non-profit organization. That is especially true of our Society, since we have no paid employees. Everything that is done, from making policy decisions to paying the heating bill, from editing the newsletter to cleaning the restroom, is done by our devoted and hard-working volunteer staff. We have existed for more than 35 years through the generosity and dedication of many loyal volunteers, past and present, and we're proud to introduce the members of our FCGSC team.
Volunteer of the Year
In 2017 a new tradition was established. The President of FCGSC began nominating a person for Volunteer of the Year.
2020 brought on a strange world that included the COVID-19 pandemic, but our Volunteer of the Year Awardee never missed a beat. Carol Askwith continued to fulfill the research requests made to FCGSC, among many other things. She learned her trade in Utah in the 90s and soon after, came to FCGSC. She has volunteered for over 16 years, including as a librarian and is always more than willing to help out when coverage is needed. At FCGSC's first Auction, Carol volunteered to run the kitchen and did so with a smile! Because of the pandemic, Sue Griffiths was unable to officially make the award to Carol at the Volunteer Picnic. Thus the photo of Carol at work in the library, but we will make it up to her! Congratulations for a well deserved award, Carol!
And in 2019 . . . FCGSC Vice President, Sue Griffiths announced Ben Simone as the Volunteer of the Year. Ben has been a member of FCGSC for over 25 years. He's always cheerful and ready to help out. He's patient while helping our members decipher french records! Ben has great regional knowledge of dialect differences- something not found in books. Ben is our go to guy for translations and has a grasp of anything found in the library. He goes above and beyond the expectations for a volunteer.
At the summer 2018 Volunteer Picnic hosted by Ron Blanchette, President Claudine Purdue presented Albert Marceau with a plaque announcing him as the 2018 winner of Volunteer of the Year. Albert has painstakenly completed FCGSC's mailings of the Maple Leaflet and the Connecticut Maple Leaf for many years. He's also a librarian and if you need a question answered about FCGSC, just ask Al. He's a treasure trove of information. He serves on the Board of Directors (since 1997) and has been a member since 1992.
In its inaugural year of 2017, the first Volunteer of the Year Award was presented by President Maryanne Legrow to Germaine Hoffman, Librarian and Board Member. Germaine, daughter of Donat Alexander and Alexiana Rock, was born in 1940 in New Bedford, MA.
In 1999 Germaine began volunteering as a librarian at the French-Canadian Genealogical Society of CT (FCGSC) and in 2002-2003 she became the Director of the library. She continues in that position, as well as serving on the Board of Directors.
Germaine has contributed hours and hours of time to the library and organization, and continues to do so. Her knowledge of the workings of the library and its holdings are immeasurable. Being the first recipient of this award is indeed, well deserved and Germaine's commitment to FCGSC is so appreciated!
March 2017 Volunteer Spotlight
Our Spotlight this month is on Ernest "Ernie" Laliberté. Ernie has been an FCGSC member since 1995, a volunteer since 2010, and has held the positions of President (2010-2015) and Vice President. Ernie says "I became interested in genealogy over 20 years ago when I went to my aunt’s funeral and got into a discussion with one of my cousins about who was related to who. That is when my cousin told me about the FCGSC in Tolland. I paid a visit to the library and was hooked on genealogy then and there because of the very helpful volunteers who started me off on the right foot."
"My mother was a HEBERT and her mother was a DUPONT. My father’s mother was a FORTIER and of course his father was a LALIBERTÉ. So those are the names I started to research in the beginning. I was still working at the time, so it was difficult to get to the library as much as I would have liked. I started to interview my oldest relatives first using a tape recorder and then transposing the material into stories. This of course lead to more names that I could research. Over the years I have accumulated a lot of family history which I share with family members."
"When I retired I decided to start going to the membership meetings and was elected President for four years and am now Vice President. I continue researching different branches of the family and interview when ever I can. My most recent interview was of my first cousin who will be turning 100 years old in April of 2017. She has a sharp memory and can tell you stories that go back many years."
"So, to me it is a great hobby to be involved with in retirement. Although you can get information on the internet, you can get better information from the library and you know the source from which it came. My advice to the young people of today is to go to the library and learn from the volunteers how to start your research. Interview all your oldest relatives first and that will lead you to more research. Don't wait until you retire to get involved because by then many of your most cherished relatives may be gone. The FCGSC has great volunteers who are willing to help anyone who walks through the door. Pay them a visit and it will start you off on a journey that will bring you great satisfaction in discovering the many different branches of your family tree."