Volunteer Spotlight

Meet some of the volunteers that help make our work possible.

Barbara Stevens

Barbara Stevens

Barbara Steven’s favorite part of volunteering at Olana is welcoming first time visitors to the house, opening the doors to the East Parlor and hearing the exclamations as they get their first look at the viewshed and Church’s eclectic possessions. Barbara has been guiding visitors through the house at Olana since 2014. She leads tours throughout the year and acts as a room guide during continuous touring on the weekends in the busy season.

In her working life, Barbara is a Stress Management Consultant, and she exclaims “Olana is MY stress management!”  She certainly reduces our stress by volunteering here. Over the years she’s helped us in so many ways. She sets up for educational and fundraising events at Olana, she’s stuffed envelopes, dropped off flyers at local establishments in Hudson, ushered events, and been such an incredible volunteer.  If you’ve been to a recent Olana Summer Party, you’ll recognize Barbara as one of the smiling faces at registration.

Barbara was first introduced to Olana in 1974. Over the years, she and her husband would attend different events, picnic in the landscape, come up to watch the sunset or be inspired by the garden.  She remembers attending a portrayal of Edgar Allen Poe on the stage in the Court Hall for Halloween which she remembers was enthralling.

Of Olana, Barbara feels “most moved by the stories of love and family that fill every room, from Frederic’s gift of Petra to Isabel to their collaboration on the stencils and colors.”  It’s clear from her dedication to Olana that Barbara carries this sense of love and family with her as she volunteers here.

Thank you so much to Barbara and our other incredible volunteers for your time and dedication.  We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.


Laurie (Conine) Schmolz

You would never know it by her youthful appearance, but Laurie has been an important part of Olana since 1975!

Working at Olana was Laurie’s first summer job while attending college. She was an enthusiastic employee during the 1970’s and worked primarily as a guide. Much has changed from those days 39 years ago when Laurie was beginning her role as a guide in the House. She recalls that there were five guides in total, they were required to wear long skirts with tops that had high collars and long sleeves, keeping in the theme of the Victorian era. Tour tickets (a roll of red raffle tickets) were sold at the front door by the guides for $2 and tours were of the first floor only.

One of Laurie’s fondest memories is the “Victorian Picnics” that were held on the east lawn at Olana. Guests were encouraged to bring picnic baskets and participate in Victorian games such as wooden hoops and croquet, as you can see-she even saved a photo of such an event from 1979!

Since those early days at Olana Laurie has taken some time off to get married (husband James Schmolz) and raise two beautiful daughters, she is currently employed at the Hawthorne Valley School. Laurie continues to display her devotion to Olana by volunteering almost every Sunday.

Laurie was asked if she could provide what she felt has changed at Olana since she first began working here.

She states, “It feels more vibrant and alive because of all the knowledge that we (the guides) are now provided to share with the guests. Also, there are many more people just visiting the grounds than in the past.

“To me there is no place like Olana, there is always a special feeling, a family sense is still present – a real home.”

The Olana Partnership would like to thank all of our Volunteers for their time and commitment, we could not do it without you!

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