Now that the dust has settled with respect to the tough decisions that have recently been made by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, it is time to move forward.
To that end, I decided to allow myself a specific amount of time to be upset about one or more of the changes that were instituted. That time has now passed, and it is time to move on.
Rather than continue to curse the darkness, it is time to bring in the Grand Illumination a little early and to start lighting candles.
I am a volunteer at the St. George Tucker House, which serves as the reception and welcome center for donors to the Foundation. Last time I checked, there were more than 120,000, and not all of them were American citizens or even residents of the United States.
In that capacity, I have had the great pleasure to meet and become acquainted with some of the nicest people I have ever met. We immediately have something in common: they love Williamsburg as much as I do, and they exhibit it by opening their checkbooks.
In conversation, I learn as much from them as they do from me. The greatest benefit of having access to Tucker House is the daily opportunity to visit with one of our “Nation Builders” who are the amazingly committed and talented scholars who portray not only the more famous heroes and founders, such as George Washington, Martha Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Mason and Lafayette, but also some lesser known and everyday people. One of the things that is so refreshing and inspirational is that every one of them, even the people portraying townspeople, free blacks and enslaved persons, are referred to as nation builders, as indeed, all of them were.
It doesn’t take a lot to be a donor and there are several ways to do it. One is to become a member of one of the donor societies. Membership in any of them allows the enjoyment of Tucker House as well as varying levels of additional benefits and discounts, depending on the donor class selected, and all receive the amazing quarterly magazine.
The Duke of Gloucester society requires a gift of only $100 per year, and there are about half a dozen other levels of giving which culminate in the Raleigh Tavern Society at $5,000 or more per year.
My wife and I, formerly members of the Duke of Gloucester Society, recently upped our annual giving level by several notches. Of equal importance, my employer matches charitable gifts up to $3,000 per year, so the value of our gift is doubled. We believe in the mission, which is “to feed the human spirit by sharing America's enduring story."
This is our gift to America’s future.
Another vitally important way to support Williamsburg is through planned giving. The W.A.R. Goodwin Society recognizes people who have done that. This could be done in many ways: naming the Foundation as a beneficiary of some of your life insurance, or perhaps donating a new policy altogether; naming the Foundation as part of your will; the purchase of a gift annuity; signing an estate note, and other ways as well. Contact the Foundation for information about donor societies and planned giving options.
Most of us who live near and around Williamsburg are eligible for a Good Neighbor Pass, which for a mere $10 a year gives us 365 days of access. That is the best deal in the galaxy.
If you share my passion, please consider becoming a donor. If nothing else, please come to the historic area more often, eat in the taverns, purchase gifts in the shops, and do everything you can to support America’s greatest living history museum.
Filko lives in Williamsburg and has taught Economics and American government.