By Brianna Bush
The Glazer Children’s Museum, which is located right in the heart of Downtown Tampa, is not only a place for children to explore but also a place where children and members of the community can come together.
The museum offers volunteer opportunities to teenagers aged 14-18 years old, adults, and groups so they can interact with children through activities.
“We try to get volunteers as involved in the process at the museum as we can,” said Jeanna Heezen, a Playologist at the museum.
Those who come in can read to children, a huge part of establishing the museum’s mission of helping children connect with the world around them.
“Storytime is nice for the kids but also for the parents because it provides a space for kids and families to cool down,” said Heezen. “It was an essential thing in our childhood and it is important to carry that on.”
Volunteers also help Playologists gather resources and create music playlists for educational activities.
“We never make a volunteer do something we wouldn’t do because we’re getting paid and they’re here giving us their time,” said Heezen.
On Feb 4., Glazers held Cirque de l’Imagination, an open-air gala where volunteers helped with bidding at a live auction to raise money for the organization.
And with the museum’s close proximity to campus, UT students are able to get involved in these activities and events.
Jesse Wahlers, a freshman biology and history double major was a volunteer at the open-air gala.
“I think it’s cool that they’re opening the museum more to the community,” said Wahlers, who regularly serves the community with the PEACE Volunteer Center. “It gives people who have kids the chance to visit the museum and help out with running it.”
UT’s PEACE Volunteer Center, an organization that is dedicated to volunteerism, reached out to the museum but the volunteer opportunities for groups were full.
Jane Groeneveld, who is a PEACE volunteer, has participated in several PEACE events including serving retirement homes, helping with nature restoration in the community, and feeding the homeless.
Groeneveld said she hopes to volunteer at the museum because it would be a new experience where she will be able to work with children.
“Community service is important to give back and learn about the community that you serve outside of the university,” said Groeneveld.
Along with volunteer opportunities, the museum provides programs to visitors of all ages. They offer free field trips in-person and digitally to children in Title 1 schools who come from low-income backgrounds.
“I think it’s one of the best programs we have because so many schools take advantage of that because they wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity otherwise,” said Heezen.
This is part of their Social Responsibility Initiative which provides financial access to children and families of Tampa Bay.
On “Sunshine Sundays,” the museum opens a few hours early so children with special needs can explore the museum.
“Everything we do is geared towards them so they can come and have a great time and they don’t have to worry about all the other external factors,” said Heezen. “We also tailor presentations, crafts, and storytimes just for them.”
The Glazer Children’s Museum strives to create a positive experience for every visitor. The programs and the volunteers who offer a helping hand are the backbone of the organization and continue to inspire and build a strong community.