Cathy Wilson has been a docent at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) since 2016. She is always ready to lend a hand and shares many good laughs with docents, visitors, and staff members alike.

Read what Cathy has to say about volunteering:

How did you get involved as a docent at Sutter’s Fort SHP?

I first got involved after listening to Maria and David’s many wonderful stories of talking to people from all over the world. They are both docents at Sutter’s Fort and I just had to join them be a part of the experience.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering?

I often volunteer my time in the blanket factory at the Fort. One of my favorite things about volunteering is seeing the wide-eyed wonder of children when they pass the shuttle through the loom to add a row to the blanket. Working with all of the talented people at Sutter’s Fort has made me a better person.

What is it that you do in your role as a Sutter’s Fort volunteer?

I am mostly involved in weaving during Hands on History and Demonstration Days at the Fort and enjoy making corn husk dolls during various events. This month I am looking forward to reprising my role as the Crazy Knitting Lady during this year’s Haunted Fort event. Be sure to get your tickets if you want me to give you a creepy scare!

What’s one of your favorite memories?

I have many incredible memories to share that are all very dear to me:

1.) In the Blanket Factory, I have instructed children on the large two heddle loom. I usually have two children learning at the same time with one working from the right and the other returning the shuttle from the left. I caution them to leave the room holding hands to prevent them from walking in circles.

2.) I also give instruction in making Corn Husk Dolls. A family was visiting from Lebanon one day and their daughter wanted to try their hand at making dolls. Beginning the instruction, I realized that the young ones could not understand English and were becoming frustrated. I started speaking to them in Arabic and that changed everything. Soon the little girls left with big smiles, holding their new hand-made dolls.

3.) One of my most cherished memories is the time I was able to present a bride and groom with a hand-spun, hand-woven gift from Sutter’s Fort. The couple held their reception at the Fort and they had requested that docents be present to add atmosphere to the celebration. My sister, Maria, suggested I weave something on one of the smaller ELP looms. So, throughout the day, I sat beneath the oak tree weaving. As guests asked me what I was doing, I would swear them to secrecy and tell them it was a gift to be presented to the bride and groom later that evening. The happy couple were surprised and delighted with the gift!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not volunteering?

Honestly, I could spend my whole day in the kitchen – I love to cook! It is important to me that Maria and her husband David come home to a good meal at the end of the day.

Thank you, Cathy, for your dedication and willingness to always learn new crafts and skills, and for your over 575 hours of volunteer service at the park!

We appreciate everything you do — for us and for California State Parks! 

Learn how you can volunteer at Sutter’s Fort SHP or support ongoing volunteer efforts here.

We are proud to support the volunteer efforts at Sutter’s Fort SHP with the help of our sponsor, Sutter Health.