Volunteering here and there ... and there and there and there

11/10/2020 Chris Wills

It would be difficult to find anyone who has volunteered with as many organizations as ALPLM Volunteer Francie Staggs. Francie’s passion for serving and desire to promote historic sites and locations are second to none. In the mere seventeen years since her professional retirement in 2003, Francie’s volunteer service is not limited to the ALPLM, as she has served with the Old State Capitol, Trails and Rails, Lincoln Home Visitor Center, Elijah Iles House, Lincoln Tomb, Dana-Thomas House, Captain William Penny Chapter, NSDAR, and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer for Abused and Neglected Children.

Francie grew up on a farm in Clark County, Illinois and moved to Champaign after graduating from Martinsville High School. She continued her education and graduated from Illinois Commercial College before beginning a position with the University of Illinois Health Center. She held this position for two years prior to moving to Madison, Wisconsin to work for the Bank of Madison. After living in Madison for two years, Francie and her husband, Jan moved to Decatur where she worked at a shelving company. Francie’s husband was drafted in the U.S. Army and the couple relocated to Colorado Springs where she accepted a position as a bookkeeper. Jan’s military service soon displaced them again and they moved across the globe to Okinawa where they started their family.

Upon their return to the United States, the Staggs family continued to move frequently living in Moline, Lombard, and Winfield, Illinois before finally settling in Springfield in 1973, where they continue to reside. During her time in Springfield, Francie earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in History at the University of Illinois Springfield formerly Sangamon State University. Following graduation, she worked for two churches and for a church organization before her retirement.

Francie’s volunteer service at the ALPLM started at an open house hosted by the Library before the museum’s construction was completed. “I loved history,” Francie explained. “So, I decided that signing up to volunteer at a Lincoln site would be a fun experience. I was in the first class of volunteers and completed the interview and training sessions in August 2004.” Over 16 years later, Francie has maintained her active status as an ALPLM Volunteer and continues to serve at the museum a few times every month. Remarkably, she has donated a total of nearly 4,600 service hours to our volunteer organization. When she is not donating her time at the ALPLM, you will likely find Francie supporting one of our agency’s continuing education program and events.

In addition to studying the Volunteer Services Department’s manual and educational materials and spending hours learning about the exhibits in the museum, Francie likes to read books about Lincoln and the various Civil War battles. Francie shared, “I have researched and studied most of the sixty battles shown during the museum’s ‘Civil War in Four Minutes’ presentation and visited several of these battlefields including my two favorites Gettysburg and Vicksburg.” She continued by expressing how she finds the photos and stories shared in the War Gallery to be particularly poignant. Francie stated, “I find the photographs displayed in the museum’s Civil War Gallery exhibition to be educational and I appreciate the feelings of connectedness I experience when I read the stories of the four featured Union and Confederate soldiers in the War Gallery and later read of their fates in the Gettysburg Gallery.”

Francie is appreciative of the lasting friendships that she has fostered during her quality time with the other museum volunteers and while attending ALPLM, Volunteer Services, and Foundation presentations and activities. Similarly, she is grateful for the strong bonds she has formed with the staff and volunteers at all the historic sites and volunteer organizations she serves.

Although most of her time during the pandemic has been home, Francie has been able to make a few trips to visit family and of course visit some historic locations including Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg. When she is at home, she describes filling her days with ongoing home projects, reading, watching documentaries and movies, and participating in a variety of virtual and volunteer Zoom meetings.

Francie’s exemplary volunteer resume has not gone unnoticed and she has been recognized on more than one occasion for her service. In 2005, she received a Recognition Award from Mayor Davlin and the City of Springfield "for many hours of dedication and successful coordination of the Springfield Overflow Shelter volunteers....and for valuable contribution to the protection of homeless people." In 2010, she was once again honored as the recipient of the 2010 University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Award "for significant contributions of leadership or service to improve the lives of others and the welfare of humanity.”

We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to you too, Francie. You are a valuable member of our team and we are thankful for you and your continued service. Your unwavering commitment to the ALPLM and the historic sites and locations you promote and support is an inspiration to all.


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