Volunteers play an essential role in keeping Visitor Center’s doors open

Source: The New Pelican |  Published: May 3, 2022 | Author: Christiana Lilly

Visitor Center volunteer Chris Vallarta helps a tourist from England find some area amenities

Photo credit: The New Pelican

Anyone who stops by the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Visitor Center on a Monday is sure to run into John Siegle.

A volunteer at the center for four years, the retired resident is responsible for greeting guests, helping them plan their stay in the beach town, answering phones, and opening and closing the center. After a career in hotels and associations, including being the director of marketing and sales for Marriott and Sheraton, he gets to keep flexing his hospitality muscle.

“I’ve lived in South Florida for over 50 years, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my experiences with people who were new to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea [LBTS] and help with their vacation experience,” Siegle said. 

For a municipality as small as LBTS, volunteerism has been essential to keeping things running as well as that sense of community the town prides itself on. This is especially true for the center, which has just a handful of employees but a fleet of volunteers.

“Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is a quaint community in part because of the many volunteers that work in our community,” says Linda Connors, town manager. “From the Visitor Center ambassadors, to the COP program [Citizens On Patrol] with the BSO, to the Volunteer Fire Department and the Garden Club ladies – and gentlemen – we have relied on our volunteers to maintain our small town charm.”

Chris Vallarta knows this from experience; she’s been a volunteer at the Visitor Center for 18 years, almost as long as she’s been living in the town her family has called home for half a century. She was always volunteering for different organizations, including Meals on Wheels, and when she moved to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea from New York, she discovered they were searching for volunteers. 

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