Historical village spotlights two volunteers
Alan and Edina Lessack started volunteering at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village about 2010 and came to Sanibel in the late 1980s when a cousin invited them to spend a week at their Casa Ybel condo. “We fell in love with the island and immediately purchased two weeks of timeshare, which we did over the next 20 years,” they said.
Alan Lessack is a tour guide and served on the board of directors for six years, including as an officer and president. Edina Lessack has worked in the village store and did buying for a couple of years. She also has helped with Luminary and volunteered in the Rutland House. She is hoping to lead tours soon.
The Lessacks are originally from Philadelphia but lived in Chicago from 1986-2007. They became Sanibel residents in 2008 and reside on the island for eight months. They return to Chicago for the summer, where Alan Lessack is a certified volunteer river docent at the Chicago Architecture Center.
He has a Bachelor of Arts in education from Temple University and Master of Arts in African studies. He was vice president at Adams-Lessack Co. office supply and furniture, and later district director and national field services director for B’nai B’rith International.
Edina Lessack was in hotel sales and marketing, then management at AT&T for 14 years. During that time, she also sang with opera companies in Philadelphia as a professional chorister and sang and conducted synagogue choirs. “In 1993, I took an early buyout from AT&T and started my own company, Meetings & Events USA, planning meetings and events for corporations and associations,” she said.
The Lessacks have played valuable roles at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, and their dedication is indicative of their passion for history and service.
“I love history,” Alan Lessack said. “Every time I speak about quality of life and mention the island was once the mosquito capital of America, I am in wonder and full of admiration for those brave souls.” He names the old Bailey General Store among his favorite buildings because it served as the center of life on the island. “I love having visitors look at the pharmacy,” he said.
Why does he volunteer at the village? “I have a strong belief in giving back and sharing my passion about the people who make this island what it is today and the commitment to preservation of our quality of life,” he said.
“Unlike many museums where items are behind locked glass doors, almost everything at the village is accessible,” Edina Lessack said. “I like meeting visitors and finding out where they are from and what brought them to Sanibel and to the village.
She names the Rutland House as her favorite building, as the rooms are excellent examples of life in the early 1900s.
“I like sharing an important aspect of Sanibel’s history. I enjoy meeting the visitors, and the volunteers are all committed and wonderful,” she said.
To become a volunteer, contact Executive Director Emilie Alfino at 239-472-4648 or Volunteer Coordinator Jan Symroski at 239-472-1856.
The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus. For information, email email@example.com or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org for updates.