Vicky Haft was a longtime volunteer of the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. She recently passed away in 2016 and we miss her dearly. Museum staff took some time to reflect on Vicky's legacy as a dedicated volunteer and a wonderful person. The museum was lucky to have her as part of its history.
Jane Bard, CMNH President
"I remember Vicky calling me 'honey,' in fact, I think Vicky called many people she encountered 'honey.' Young, old, male, female, she had a way of making you feel like you are precious, that you are family. The Museum can be a hectic and energetic place, and I always remember Vicky being a calm presence, someone who no matter what was happening around her, she was able to focus on whatever child needed her help in our project area in Portsmouth. She was a friend to all and was part grandmother/part mentor to the young staff and volunteers."
Xanthi Gray, Education Director
"There are many fond memories of Vicky as she was an important part of the museum's volunteer program for so many years (in Portsmouth & in Dover). Vicky had a way of greeting all visitors with a warm & sparkling smile, making them feel important and welcome. She enjoyed chatting with children & adults alike and getting to know their stories. She was open & warm which made everyone feel comfortable in her presence, visitors and staff!
I always remember that Vicky loved projects. Whether it meant cutting out 50 paper bear masks for Teddy Bear Clinic or making sewing repairs on a soft sculpture fish head, she was eager to help and enjoyed the work as she conversed with visitors. Having never driven, once the museum moved to Dover, it was no longer possible for Vicky to walk to the museum from her home. She was still eager to volunteer, so staff members took turns giving Vicky rides to and from the museum each week so she could continue her volunteer work. On many occasions, I had the opportunity to drive her. I so enjoyed getting to hear the stories of her family members, who she loved dearly and lit up when she spoke of them. And, in typical Vicky fashion, she never forgot to ask about my family and seemed to also enjoy hearing about them.
Each year Vicky would leave us for a winter break in Florida. She would always return with a treat for the staff. But truly the best treat for us was having the opportunity to be in Vicky's presence and enjoy her friendship. She touched so many of us and we will never forget her!"
Paula Rais, VP of Development & Community Engagement
"I met Vicky when the museum was still in Portsmouth. She was a fellow New Yorker, though she lived in the city and I was from Long Island. We talked a lot about New York, art, families, and pets. Vicky and her husband Bob had King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, and my parents also had that breed of dog and grew up in NY, so that really bonded us! Vicky was soft spoken, called everyone 'Honey,' but she also had sass and a NY toughness. Despite being a very petite woman, you wouldn’t want to mess with her!"
Doug Tilton, Director of Visitor Services
"Vicky Haft was my friend. I want to be clear about that because everything I say will be biased. She was one of the closest and dearest friends I’ve ever had, and that’s because it was pretty much impossible to be Vicky’s friend and not see and feel about her that way. We worked together all of our Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for nine years and then for at least four hours a week off and on for another couple of years after we moved from Portsmouth. Seeing Vicky walk through the front door was quite literally the highlight of our workweek, no exaggeration. It is no overstatement to say she transformed the project area each day with her presence. Anyone who worked with Vicky will tell you she had that special ability to meet the child (or their moms, dads, grandparents or caregivers) on his or her level and then gently guide them through their experience. I’ve never met anyone who used her 'people skills' so effectively. Vicky was an exemplary volunteer and teacher of children and she gave of herself unconditionally all the time. I don’t think the Children’s Museum has ever had any better emissary, myself included. I use Vicky as a guide star to help us keep the Museum as the kind, welcoming and nurturing a place as it was when she was with us.
When the museum was located in Portsmouth, volunteers earned a gift membership for every fifty hours they served. We had only a couple of volunteers who earned them at the rate Vicky did and some of them would turn their gift back to us to donate them to families in need through our funded membership program. Vicky always took hers and enjoyed finding and identifying those families she thought could benefit from the Museum. She was a native New Yorker and didn’t drive so she walked everywhere. Because of that Vicky met people all the time. She took a genuine interest in everyone and took the time to learn their stories so she had no trouble finding people to give her earned memberships to, or even to just invite to check out the Museum for an initial visit. I was frequently being introduced to some young mom or dad with a toddler Vicky had introduced to the Museum.
She had an amazing memory for detail and always remembered the names of the visitors, not to mention details of their lives and she always added an invaluable personal touch to the Museum. Vicky took a great interest in the Museum staff's children’s birthdays and would always remember us at birthday or holiday time. One time I came home to find a beautifully wrapped package at my back door with a note. It was more than a month from my birthday but she was going to be away and wanted to make sure I got my birthday gift on time, a thoughtfully chosen book on a subject I had once mentioned in passing.
There were a few issues that kept Vicky from continuing to volunteer with us on a regular basis once we left Portsmouth. In Portsmouth, she lived only a few thousand feet from the Children’s Museum. But, like I mentioned, she didn't drive, so it was a bit complicated to get her here to Dover. But she did help out here when she could. Vicky was one of only two people to twice receive our annual Florence Coughlin Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. If we hadn’t created the award in Florence’s name there is no question we would have named it for Vicky because she was so deserving of the honor. She was intelligent, sensitive, deeply committed and without a doubt one of the kindest and gentlest persons I’ve ever known. She was also a very positive and forward thinking person with a great sense of humor. Nothing I write can do Vicky’s memory justice, but her person and her actions and what they meant to us does live on."