Linnea Nelson is the newest volunteer for the North Adams Tourist Booth.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Shirley Finkelstein has helped visitors to the city find places to eat and sleep, find interesting things to do and even determine their geographic location.
"I even have had funny conversations with people, like the time the guy asked where he was and when I told him North Adams, he said it can't be and after saying it was true he pointed at his computer map and asked 'are you sure?'" laughed Finkelstein.
She has lots of stories of manning the Tourist Booth at the city's eastern entrance over the past two decades.
"It has been a lot of fun meeting people," Finkelstein, who started volunteering at the booth in 1991 after retiring and looking for ways to fill her day while her husband was golfing on Wednesdays. "I was paired with Betty Wyman for 10 years before she moved away. Manny [her husband] was then retired so he started coming with me."
More volunteers like Finkelstein are needed to reopen the Tourist Booth at the Windsor Mill on Union Street. the booth was closed last year but Veronica Bosley, director of the city's Office of Tourism, is all set to make sure that isn't the case this year.
"We need volunteers to come forward to help at the Tourist Booth so that we can keep it open from 10 to 4 every day between June 1 and Columbus Day weekend," said Bosley. "It is very important that we are available to provide information for tourists and others coming through our area. We want them to know what we have to offer in North Adams and our surrounding area. Volunteers at the Tourist Booth can be the link that gets people to go to North Adams stores or restaurants."
If you like talking to people and you don't mind telling them where to go — as in directions — then this could be just the volunteer opportunity.
Betty Senay, whom Finkelstein recruited, has volunteered at the booth since 1995 and was joined by her husband, Armand, as a volunteer about five or six years ago. The couple said they really enjoyed it, especially meeting people — from England, Germany, and even South Africa.
They had an interesting time with the South Africans, talking for about an hour and learning a lot about their trip, because the visitors had trouble with their camper. The Senays were able to direct them to a place they knew that could help them get the camper fixed.
Veronica Bosley of the Office of Tourism said the Tourist Booth will be open this year.
And new volunteers, like Linnea Nelson, recently retired from the North Adams Library, will be a welcome addition to the volunteers. Nelson has fond memories from years ago when she went with family friends and sat with them at the Tourist Booth.
"I remember being impressed with people who stopped at the booth," she said. "I want to do this also because I was born in North Adams and have gotten a lot from living here and I want to give back to the community."
Volunteers are provided with lots of information about the area, comfortable chairs, a fan, heaters, water, and other amenities. You can bring a book or other things to do for those off times when there isn't someone stopping in and you can partner with someone else.
Bosley said having volunteers at the booth was essential to informing visitors about "hidden gems" like Windsor Lake, or Historic Valley Campground or Natural Bridge State Park.
"Volunteers who can direct people and encourage them to see local sites are key to increasing summer traffic to DownStreet Art, downtown, the North Adams History Museum, and so much more that North Adams has to offer," said Bosley.
People interested in helping out at the Tourist Booth, whether taking a regular weekly shift or being a flexible replacement, are welcome and encouraged to join this great group of volunteers. There are several ways that you can get more information or sign up:
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