Our Volunteer Programs Specialist, Sharleen Eusebio, recently sat down with one of our dedicated volunteers, Don Pepper, and learned about why he loves volunteering at the Museum as a Gallery Guide, his favorite memories at the Museum, and more.

There are so many great cultural institutions in San Diego. What made you choose to volunteer here with us?

I like this museum. There are lots of exhibits and very different ones. Other places have great, big exhibits on one thing. But here, it’s big enough to cover the subjects pretty well, but not too big that it would end up being boring.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering here?

Turns out, what I like most is meeting the people. It’s very enjoyable. Just this morning, I was talking to a group of German folks who have never been here before. I gave them ideas on what to see and they were surprised that this building was never a church. I often learn more from the visitors than anything else.

How do you spend your time when you’re not here?

I’m a retired engineer. I read a lot and have always enjoyed that. Right now, I’m reading a story of a guy who ran away from Michigan to Oregon to be a cowboy. And he was thirteen! I have a relative who was a cowboy, which is fascinating because he was English. I also write stories about my family. My father passed before some of his grandkids could get to know him. So I collected stories and photos so his grandkids could learn who he was. I put them in books and handed them out one Christmas. I’m working on my mother’s family now and stories about my daughter. [Sharleen’s Note: Don has fascinating stories about his family and encourages anyone to ask him!]

Do you have any favorite stories/memories/moments from your time here?

I collect the word “pepper,” as in the spice, in as many languages as I can. I met an Army interpreter here once. He was from Iraq and spoke eight different languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi…what blew my mind was that he also spoke Aramaic! I thought it was dead! But it turns out it’s still alive in small pockets of the population. Anyway, he taught me “pepper” in Aramaic, which phonetically sounds like “feely feely.” I just really enjoy exchanging information and stories with everyone. I did not expect this at all when I started, and now it’s the most fun thing. Every so often, I’ll even get someone who talks more than I do!

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Museum there are many ways you can get involved. From Tower Trekkers and Museum Ambassadors, to Craft Corner Volunteers, there’s an opportunity waiting for you! To learn more about our open volunteer positions, please contact Sharleen at seusebio@museumofman.org.