In today’s society, “Volunteer Ladies” are becoming a thing of the past

Nancy R. Cooper, an adult child of the first class of volunteer docents at the Cincinnati Art Museum, talks proudly and candidly about her mother’s work at CAM. As she says, her mother was blessed with a fine college education, a rewarding experience during World War II in the Waves (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and marriage and motherhood.

Her mom and friends worked unpaid to establish the docent program, gift shop, and book program, as well as fundraising and event planning.

As Cooper says, “She didn’t go to a ‘job,’ but we children knew she was important and served as the ultimate example of giving back. Was she privileged? Yes. She never questioned that. Did she and her group of ladies do something no one else had time for? Absolutely. They never questioned their value to the community or themselves.

As these women move into retirement, the question now is, “Who will take the time and effort to do for others, an essential virtue in America?”

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