La Jolla's Mount Soledad Memorial Association seeks docents, volunteers

The Mount Soledad Memorial Association is seeking volunteers for its La Jolla office, as well as docents at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla.

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available, including memorial plaque designers, plaque salespersons, website support, coordinating veteran event activities, social media and general administrative office duties. Each calls for approximately three hours per week of volunteer service. Training programs are in place to orient new volunteers.

“It is only through the support of our docents and volunteers that we can continue our work honoring and recognizing those men and women,” said Bruce Bailey, the association’s president and chief executive officer.

Senior Chief Wilfred “Bill” Sturgeon has been an association volunteer and memorial docent for the past four years, answering questions about the memorial and conducting tours upon request. Sturgeon served in the U.S. Navy and retired after 24 years of military service. He served onboard seven different destroyers in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“I am one of seven docents, each of us helping visitors better understand the significance of this extraordinary veterans tribute, which recognizes the major contributions of those who have helped preserve the freedoms we enjoy as Americans,” Sturgeon said.  “It’s an ideal opportunity for both veterans and non-veterans to show their patriotism while honoring those who have served our country.”

A highlight of Sturgeon’s bi-weekly shifts is connecting with his canine visitors.

“Dog owners in the La Jolla area regularly take their dogs up to Soledad Natural Park for daily walks,” he said.  “As the dogs near the top of the site, they break into quick step knowing that I am working my docent shift, with pockets brimming with tasty dog biscuits.  It’s a highlight for me to see the dogs but to also converse and share the association’s story with those in our own backyard.”

In addition to answering questions and assisting the more than 60,000 visitors who pass through the Memorial each year, Sturgeon’s responsibilities include completing weekly reports on the number of domestic and foreign visitors, answering visitor questions, plaque location requests, group pictures and new plaque inquiries.

In 2014, he initiated a program with volunteers to help maintain the appearance of the memorial walls and veteran plaques. He is also instrumental in overseeing and supervising an induction program for new Navy Chief Petty Officer selectees to help with general maintenance work at the memorial.  Sturgeon developed a U.S. Presidents’ and Medal of Honor Tour, which shows visitors where each of these distinguished veteran plaques are located on the memorial walls.

“We hope to get the word out about our need for more volunteers and docents who bring the same energy and enthusiasm for our mission as Bill has for so many years,” Bailey said. “He is truly an asset to our organization and to our community.”

The Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial is the only veteran’s memorial in the United States that honors veterans, living and deceased, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in the Middle East.

For more information on volunteering, call (858) 459-2314 or visit

soledadmemorial.com

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