James A. Garfield National Historic Site support group thriving – News-Herald


Andrew Mizsak of Bedford is a professor of history, government affairs consultant and historian. He also plans to continue his education this summer with related online courses. So what brings this busy guy to join Mentor for another role, leading a nascent volunteer group supporting a local landmark? “James A. Garfield National Historic Site is one of this region’s best-kept secrets, and it tells an important part of American history,” Mizsak said. “I love helping the really amazing team that works there do it. Mizsak was already volunteering at the site in January 2013, when the head of interpretation and education, Todd Arrington, invited him to a meeting on building a group of friends. “The energy in the room that night was electric and I remember telling my wife that the people in the room were people I would like to work with,” said Mizsak, married to the director of Bedford. Historical Society, Dana Best-Mizsak. In June, he served as the personnel coordinator for a core group, and in November, he was appointed the organization’s first executive director. Over the past year, in addition to serving on a board of directors and electing officers, the Friends of James A. Garfield National Historic Site has drafted bylaws, applied for non-profit status. and started accepting general members. The Friends also began to engage elected officials on issues, such as the James A. Garfield State Historic Corridor Project that would stretch from Public Square in Cleveland to Painesville Square. The group also arranged for Mizsak and Arrington to present Garfield in the State House rotunda in March. In addition to helping promote the site, the Friends have made their mark by helping out at special events at the site and by donating cookies and other refreshments. “It’s really amazing what the Friends have accomplished in such a short period of time,” said Arrington. “They acted very quickly, but also very methodically. It’s a testament to their dedication and the strong leadership of the group. ‘ Several members of the Garfield family hold leadership positions on the Friends board of directors. Mizsak said their involvement is one thing that sets the site apart from others. “I bet you our colleagues at the various Lincoln sites would like to have descendants from their president,” he said. Mizsak estimates that there are around 170 Friends members. Events include fundraisers to pay for advertisements in travel guides and provide promotional items, as well as to help financially support programs and initiatives that draw people to the site. “I’ve heard so many people say, ‘I’ve lived in Mentor – or Lake County or Northeast Ohio – my whole life, and I never knew what it was. ‘was acting … not to mention the fact that it’s a national park,’ Mizsak said. A recent activity was the site’s first “Library Support Day”. Much of the internal revenue of the Eastern National Bookstore goes to the site. From April 19, Friends volunteers will organize an information / welcome tent for three days during National Parks Week, which runs until April 27. The site is also open to the public on April 25 and 26 and admission will be free. The group too

promotes an official blog

. Recent articles, discussing the life of Captain Charles Henry of Geauga County, have been written by Park Guide Scott Longert. Social media and the Friends group are part of efforts to increase visitation, which declined significantly last year following federal budget cuts imposed by kidnapping and a prolonged government-linked shutdown. Membership fees and other financial donations are continuously accepted. Membership fees for individuals are $ 15 per person; $ 25 for couples / families; and from $ 100 for corporate subscriptions.

“We’re always looking for people to join us and share some of their time and talents to support the efforts of an award-winning national park,” Mizsak said. For more information, contact the group of friends at

[email protected]


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