Friday, April 12, 2013

Thank you, Mark

Readers of this blog know that our Visitors Services Manager, Mark Jurgensen, is the person responsible for posting here, and he comes up with all the content.  However, I thought I would take advantage of the time while Mark is away on a short vacation (he published a post yesterday before he left) to express my appreciation for all he does at Andalusia.  After a few months of volunteering for the Foundation, Mark began his employment here in October, 2009.  I cannot express how grateful I was and am to the Foundation Board of Directors for making the move to hire Mark as a part-time staff member.  A fairly new reader of Flannery O'Connor when he was hired, Mark completely immersed himself into the author's world, carefully studying her fiction and extensively exploring criticism of her work.  He spent months going over materials I provided for him, and he read the most recent biography of O'Connor by Brad Gooch twice.  He memorized the docent script I provided and soon began to enhance it with his own insights, always taking great care to be accurate and respectful about O'Connor's life and literature.  Within a short time, Mark began giving almost all the tours to our visitors, and though he doesn't like me to say this, he actually gives a better tour than I do.  He also does a marvelous job of managing our gift shop, ensuring that it is well stocked and letting me know when inventories are running low.

In addition to embracing the job as our primary docent, Mark volunteered to assume a crucial chore at Andalusia: taking care of the peafowl.  He cleans out the aviary EVERY DAY that he works.  He makes sure the birds have plenty of food and water, and thankfully, he reminds me to do the same when he is going to be away.  He buys treats for them, and they are so relaxed around Mark that the birds will eat spinach leaves right out of his hand.  Another of Mark's responsibilities that is vital to our success at Andalusia is maintaining the Foundation's donor database, from which we generate mailing lists for annual appeal letters and the Friends of Andalusia newsletter.  If I were to describe all the many ways that Mark has contributed to the Foundation's success at Andalusia, this post would not be in keeping with the succinct and readable entries his readers have come to expect.  The icing on the cake is the fact that Mark's wife, Judy, is always so generous as a volunteer and makes some of the best refreshments you'll find at any reception, anywhere! 

From proofing written materials to moving furniture, from answering inquiries from around the world to sweeping the front porch, Mark never complains about the all-encompassing line in most job descriptions, "related duties as required."  Forgive me for treading on your blog turf, Mark, but I just want everyone to know how grateful I am for your hard work and dedication to Flannery O'Connor and the Foundation's mission at Andalusia.

--Craig Amason, Executive Director

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