July’s Volunteer Spotlight shines on Ora Ball, a volunteer crew member on the park train. Ora is involved with many different areas of the museum; most recently, he worked as a summer railway camp counselor with the Education Department. The summer campers kept Ora busy as he guided them through all the fun and educational activities.
When Ora isn’t helping with the education department or running the park train, he can be seen zooming inside and outside the train museum on his Segway. I was able to catch up with Ora during the day camp and asked if he’d be willing to be our volunteer spotlight for July. He was kind enough to share some thoughts and personal insights about why he became a volunteer.
“I think I started volunteering right around March of 2018. I saw the museum was right down the street from where I live and thought it would be a good way to give back to the community, meet new people and have some fun.”
Ora volunteers with the miniature park train as an engineer and conductor. He also works at the ticket booth and even helps with general clean up from time to time.
“I enjoy meeting the young and old train enthusiasts and learning more about this aspect of transportation history. My favorite piece of equipment is the dome car. I love the retro look and layout of it.”
When asked about any particularly memorable visitor interactions, Ora tells me, “My most special moment was when this 93 yea- old man was determined to fold himself into the park train because it reminded him of the small gauge tracks used in mining way back in the day. He told me the story of his youth spent working the mines.”
When Ora’s not volunteering at SRM, you might find him working at The New School of Music or floating down the Chattahoochee in a tube or kayak just enjoying nature. His hobbies include stain glass work, motorcycling, flying drones and photography. Ora enjoys singing in a chorus and learning about folk instruments (and playing them!).
“I’m not originally from Georgia. I was born and raised in upstate New York in Watertown which is snowbelt country, 5 miles from the eastern end of Lake Ontario and 20 miles south of the Canadian border. I went to College in Oklahoma and spent 20 years in Jacksonville, FL before moving here in 2014.”
Ora has a fondness for out-of-the-ordinary vehicles that are economical. He owns and uses a Segway Ninebot Mini to get around the museum when he opens and unlocks everything in the morning when working at the ticket booth. “I also own a Ural motorcycle with sidecar and just purchased a used Smart Car.”
As one can see, Ora knows how to get around in several different ways. Volunteering at Georgia’s state transportation history museum is a perfect fit for someone so enthusiastic about different modes of transportation!