One of our volunteers recently shared his college essay with us which got him into all of the schools to which he applied. It was about his work at the Kimlin Cider Mill around 2008/2009. He has now graduated and still volunteers. Enjoy!
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I remember that when I was younger, I used to ride past an old red building almost every day. It was horrible and rundown, and had a sign on it that said “DANGER! KEEP OUT!”. Now, however, thanks to a group of volunteers including me, the building is currently being cleaned up and restored. This change is truly impressive, and is something I feel very proud of.
All of this started in the summer of 2008, I attended the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Vassar College. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled after a week due to a stomach virus outbreak. Little did I know at the time that this would result in me working on restoring the historic Kimlin Cider Mill on Cedar Avenue in Poughkeepsie. The structure was built by the Kimlin Family when they moved from Ireland to America in the 1850s. In the 1930s, Ralph Kimlin, a descendant of the original builders, turned the building into a cider mill and popular public attraction. Unfortunately, after Mr. Kimlin’s death, the building shut down and fell into a state of disarray. This is where my story and this historical story meet. As my program did not go as planned, I was sitting at home with nothing to do, and decided to look for volunteer work. I went on a website which lists local volunteer opportunities, and after searching for a few minutes, I came across the listing for Cider Mill Friends. I found out that they were a not-for-profit organization that sought to restore the mill and ground into a public museum. This seemed interesting to me. So, I called the listed phone number, and found out that they were having a grounds cleanup the upcoming Saturday. I told them I would definitely be there. It was the start of an inspiring experience.
I arrived at the mill that Saturday at 9:30 AM as I had stated. Immediately, some of the more experienced volunteers gave me a tour of the mill. It was not until this point that I realized just how much history this building held, and how important it was to restore it. That day, we cleaned up a substantial amount of weeds off the side of the building. Later, we would work inside cleaning up items, some historical relics, others plain trash. One item I vividly remember was an article about Austria buying war bonds. However, no matter what I was doing on the grounds, it was important.
About a month later, I was talking with one of the other volunteers, and I mentioned that the Cider Mill Friends’ website had not been updated in several months. It still listed the next work date as being in June, despite the fact that it was August at the time. Therefore, I took the initiative and volunteered my services to become the volunteer webmaster. They happily agreed, and I now update the website as needed, typically several times a month. This is also important, because if people are not aware of our mission, they cannot possibly volunteer and assist us. It is necessary for us to recruit more people, and a well-maintained website is an important need in order to do so. Therefore, I feel that I have taken on an important responsibility, and as such, I feel that I am important.
Being a volunteer for the Cider Mill makes me feel proud to be part of something bigger. The building is over 150 years old, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Thanks to our group of volunteers, the building is no longer ugly or rundown. This vast improvement is due to the passion and hard-working attitude that the other volunteers and I have. It is important to know that I am a part of this, and this will remain with me for years to come.
It can be exciting to be part of change, and one does not have to be in a position of power to do so. I myself have been part of a great change in the Kimlin Cider Mill. Someday, it will be turned into a museum with information about the history of the mill as well as historical relics that were found there. Someday, during or after college, when the building is restored, I will drive past it on a return visit to Poughkeepsie. I will look at it and think to myself that I was part of the effort to restore it, and inside, I will feel proud of myself for my accomplishments.