A Newtonian born and raised, Patricia Randall joked that she first became interested in volunteering at the Warkentin House because she saw it nearly every day of her life.

Truthfully, Randall had a passion for history — having taught the subject at the middle school level in Newton for many years — and was drawn to the story of the Warkentin family.

"I'm a history teacher and I particularly love the history of the Warkentin family. I'm not a Mennonite, but it is just such and inspiring story," Randall said.

Nearly 30 years ago, Randall got involved with the historical museum as a docent (guide/teacher taking visitors on tours of the Warkentin House) and sometime after that she was elected to serve on the board — an experience she enjoyed in its entirety.

Eventually, Randall went back to serving as a docent and did so until she stepped away from volunteer work with the museum last year. Given her love of history, that role was a highlight, though she noted she was also proud of the work she did with fellow longtime volunteer Gladys Niles to establish the Christmas tradition at the Warkentin House.

During the first year Randall and Niles worked together as volunteers, they were scrounging up whatever Christmas decorations they could find to display at the house. That sparked the idea to get businesses to sponsor the decorating process of the various rooms — an opportunity that was eventually opened up to private citizens as well.

Giving birth to the "Five Places of Christmas" tradition (and helping other museums in that process), Randall is glad to see the tradition continue and bring in numerous visitors to the museum each year during the holidays. She was happy to help with preparations through the entirety of her time with the Warkentin House.

"I've been decorating with my daughters and I have decorated for a long time; we've done, I think, just about every room in the house," Randall said.

Outside of helping at the museum, Randall also delivered for Newton Meals on Wheels for 25-plus years and has been very active in her church.

Personally, it's an experience Randall said she has found enriching — bringing her into contact with many different residents, something she said the world could use more of at the moment.

"I recommend volunteering for retirees. It's so rewarding," Randall said. "It's important for all of us to know more about the people in our community, know more of what makes them tick because the atmosphere of hate that prevails in this country today is just sickening. We've got to do something; getting to know your neighbor would help a lot."