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VLM Commemorates Couple’s Volunteer Contributions

February 10, 2017

The Virginia Living Museum (VLM) honored Larry and Patty Riddick for their volunteer service during a ceremony at the museum Tuesday, January 31. Together the duo dedicated more than 34 years of volunteer services to the museum.

“Their dedication and passion for the VLM mission kept them coming back,” said Shandran J. Thornburgh, VLM Volunteer Services Director. “They were very reliable, and we could count on them to be here helping us in so many different ways. They were ever-pleasant, and customer focused.”

For more than 22 years Larry has dedicated time and limitless efforts to the museum by preparing and regulating diets tailored to each animal’s need, educating guests on the natural history of animals on the outdoor trail, cleaning and sanitizing animal areas, and assisting and guiding new volunteers. Larry essentially managed to support and help whenever and wherever he was needed. Among his many other roles at the museum, Larry also provided support at various exhibits, animal programs, fundraisers, and special events. In 2014, Larry was awarded the VLM’s Gloria Lombardi Award for significant and sustained volunteer service. Larry’s wife Patty also devoted ample time and energy to the museum’s volunteer services department.

Patty’s 12 years and three months of volunteer work at the VLM have also proven instrumental to the organization. Primarily through slushee sales and the Bacchus Wine and Food Festival, she helped the volunteer fundraising committee meet their goal of $100,000. With those funds, the volunteer fundraising committee was able to sponsor the schooling fish tank established behind the front desk in the museum’s lobby. While in existence, Patty served as co-chair and chair of the committee for four years. Additionally, Patty managed to help the volunteer services office with data entry duties, phone and communications procedures, and scheduling operations. Like her husband, Patty had many roles and performed various tasks throughout the museum such as the Touch Tank, several changing exhibits, and counting change in the lobby’s “Black Hole” donation station. Through Patty’s volunteer contributions and effectiveness, the museum saved a sufficient amount of money.

During the commemoration ceremony, the VLM presented Patty with a paver for her more than 2600 hours and 12 years and three months of service. Her paver is located in front of the museum and is placed next to her dear friend Tede Johnson, who passed away a few years ago. Larry received a piling for 6934 hours and 22 yrs and three months of service. Larry’s piling is located between the VLM’s aviary and wolf exhibit on the outdoor trail.

“Through the Riddick’s work, we provided literally thousands of positive nature experiences to our guests, and raised money to support our education and conservation efforts,” said Thornburgh.

Now officially retired from VLM volunteering, the Riddick’s have ultimately decided to leave Yorktown and move to Maryland to be closer to their family. Although the museum staff and volunteers will miss them, many patrons cannot thank them enough for all they have done for our Hampton Roads community. Thornburgh even states the Riddick’s leave behind big shoes to fill when it comes to volunteer services.

As the VLM bids farewell to the generous couple, they invite more members of the community to join the VLM volunteer team. Thornburgh explains that not only does volunteering give back to the community, it also helps deepen and broaden and organizations mission and overall impact. As one of the Peninsula’s largest volunteer programs, the VLM is certified as a Service Enterprise and currently has 472 volunteers. By integrating skilled volunteers with museum needs, everyone can perform more effectively.

“Furthermore, many people don’t realize what volunteers gain out of the experience,” said Thornburgh. “It is fun, and volunteers get a sense of accomplishment for having made a positive impact on the environment through our educational efforts.”

The museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, I-64, exit 258A. If you are interested in joining the VLM volunteer services team or would like more information, please visit or call 757-595-1900.

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