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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Barkell Honored with Miriam Mountford Volunteer Award

Barkell Honored with Miriam Mountford Volunteer Award

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Each year the Willa Cather Foundation recognizes a volunteer who has been especially dedicated to helping the Foundation meet its mission. Volunteers are vital to the success of the Willa Cather Foundation, and the family of Miriam Mountford recognized the importance of a strong volunteer core when they established the Miriam Mountford Volunteer Award.

Mountford was the Foundation’s first volunteer who worked alongside its founders and the first president, following founder Mildred Bennett. She also assisted in devising the first guided tours of the Cather historic sites. The Miriam Mountford Volunteer Award was established in her memory to recognize individuals for outstanding volunteer service.

The 2015 recipient is Bill Barkell of Hastings, Nebraska. For some time, Barkell has gone above and beyond in support of efforts to preserve historic sites that relate to Cather’s life and work. In the past, he has graciously donated time and materials while working as a contractor on various repair projects at the Cather historic sites.

Most recently, Barkell volunteered to complete a much-needed project at the Foundation’s First Baptist Church. Over an extended period this spring, he and his team replaced portions of deteriorated siding and trim, repaired damaged structural framing, and applied exterior primer and paint to the church Cather attended in her youth. The result is a reinvigorated historic site that the Cather Foundation and the community can point to with pride when welcoming visitors. Matching funds for paint and materials were provided through a grant from the Red Cloud Historic Preservation Commission.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks to Bill Barkell and numerous other volunteers in the Red Cloud community who graciously give their time to assist with our activities and programming,” said Executive Director Ashley Olson. “Without the selfless support of friends and neighbors in the area, it wouldn’t be possible to sustain the events and preservation activities that are central to our mission.”

The Willa Cather Foundation has a variety of volunteer opportunities available, including assisting with programs at the Red Cloud Opera House, landscaping at historic sites, and greeting and providing information to visitors and guests. For more information, please call the Red Cloud Opera House at 402-746-2641 or visit