Jean and Jerry Gieraltowski of Naperville have been named the 2013 Volunteers of the Year by the Illinois Association of Museums for the time they've donated to the DuPage County Historical Museum.
Since 2001, the Gieraltowskis have given a total of 2,937 hours to the museum and, according to the Illinois Association of Museums, "have proved their dedication to the DuPage County Historical Museum through good and tough times."
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Jean began volunteering in 2001, working at the front desk and welcoming visitors to the museum.
"They could ask me anything as they wandered around," Jean said. "I really enjoyed it."
When Jerry started volunteering in 2007, the couple began cataloging material in the museum's vertical files. They also cataloged the historic material in the educator's office.
"That took the longest amount of time," said Jerry with a laugh.
Jerry and Jean are so dedicated to the museum because they feel it's a vital asset to the community.
"It's a very important museum because of the interesting permanent and changing exhibits. It's specific to early DuPage settlers, which is unique; it's important for people to know how DuPage began," Jean said.
Jerry agreed, saying, "Sara Arnas (the museum's curator) and Sara Buttita (educator) have come up with a lot of interesting ways to get people into the museum that everyone in DuPage County will enjoy.
"They do a great job helping kids appreciate history, too, including the way they work with school districts and have a huge train village on the lower level."
"We were really surprised that we got the award," Jean said. "It's really an honor for us and the museum."
Jean and Jerry also volunteer at the Family History Center in Naperville and serve on the board of the DuPage Genealogical Society.
In addition to this award, the museum has been given two other awards this year: an award of excellence from the Illinois Association of Museums for its folk art exhibit (Early Illinois Folk Art, 1925-1925) displayed throughout most of 2013, and an American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design USA for a folk art catalog (also titled Early Illinois Folk Art, 1925-1925).
For more information about the museum, visit dupagemuseum.org.