PEEC: Dunn is the ultimate volunteer

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By Gina Velasquez

Hedy Dunn has taken on many volunteer responsibilities. Since retiring from her position as director of the Historical Museum in 2011, which she held for 33 years, she has given her time to Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), the Santa Fe Opera, Bandelier National Monument, the Fuller Lodge Historic District Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Historical Society.
She has volunteered at PEEC since 2011.
“I volunteer because I believe in the organization and enjoy what goes on at PEEC,” Dunn said in a recent interview with the nature center. “I thought I could bring a certain degree of expertise to the table that could be valuable to PEEC.”
Dunn serves on the PEEC Advisory Board.
Her first job as a board member was treasurer. She is currently involved in the Certified Wildlife Habitat initiative and has been helping fund funding for new exhibits in the Nature Center that is scheduled to open in 2015.
Dunn said she is amazed how the Historical Museum and PEEC have evolved since her early days of involvement. “I don’t think we had any inkling of what PEEC would become today. We wanted a place to get together to foster environmental education for people of all ages,” she said.
“Just as PEEC has grown, the Historical Museum grew by getting more memberships and grants, and by making a case to the County for more support based on the growing sophistication and quality of the vital community services being provided. The same could be said for PEEC.”
Dunn first came to Los Alamos from the East Coast in 1974, with her husband Richard “Skip” Dunn, who was the vice principal of Los Alamos High School from 1974-1984. They reside in White Rock.
“I love the people, the scenery, the weather — mostly the low humidity, the cultural richness of the area and the amazing history of the region,” she said of Los Alamos
What brought Dunn to volunteer at the Santa Fe Opera was her college background as an art major.
“Friends of mine had mentioned that they were working in the costume shop for the Opera, and I had always had a fascination with the history of costumes. It sounded like fun, so I volunteered to help as well,” she said. She continues to volunteer in the props department.
“For one opera last summer, soldiers were shooting into the air and, as a gag, a duck was supposed to drop from the sky. So we volunteers in the props department had to strip off the feathers from gull wings so the prop department staff could make a Canada Goose from them. You never know what you’re going to be asked to do!” she said.
Another stop on her volunteer path is at Bandelier. “I have been working at the visitor center and out on the trails,” she said of her duties. “This winter I’ve been scanning historic photos that are part of Bandelier’s archeological survey. There are photos of entire pots that have been found, which are very rare.”
Dunn also serves on the Fuller Lodge Historic District Advisory Board and on various committees for the Historical Society. “I helped unpack and organize many of the artifacts that moved to the Society’s new archives and records center,” she said.
Dunn said she enjoys all the volunteer experiences she is involved with. “The best part is forming friendships and finding that work goes much faster and with far more enjoyment when one is working in a group,” she said.
“To see the fruits of one’s labor, whether it’s an impressive piece of scenery on the opera stage in Santa Fe, or a huge stack of labeled newsletter at PEEC, or knowing you have helped a young explorer earn a junior ranger badge at Bandelier, it’s a lovely diversion from everyday life.”