By Carol Brinkman, San Juan Capistrano

In response to the recent article regarding the Mission Docent Society parting ways with the Mission at San Juan Capistrano, I would like to affirm that SJC Mission Docents continue to be a vital and active part of the Mission’s outreach, and they continue to guide adult and student tours of the Mission. I am one of those Docents.

A splinter of disgruntled docents recently left the Mission because they did not get their way! Regretfully, this old guard became so entrenched in their fixed way of doing things, they forgot their purpose was toserve the Mission and began to think they were independent of it. They forgot that the Docent Bylaws do not grant independence from the Mission; that docent fees they collected do not belong to them; that they do not have proprietary ownership of effective touring techniques; and that copywriting universal teacher practices such as using age-appropriate vocabulary does not bestow ownership. They forgot that Docents work under the auspices of the Mission at San Juan Capistrano and the leadership of its Executive Director, Mechelle Lawrence Adams.

There have been positive effects resulting from this recent kerfuffle. A new, revitalized docent-education program has been created. No longer do volunteers have to pay $25 to belong to the Docent Society. No longer are Docents obligated to pay for their docent hats, which in the future will be a graduation gift upon completion of their training. All Mission volunteers (i.e., Docents, Garden Angels and the Mission Guild) have been joined into one cohesive volunteer group. Most importantly, Mission leadership has heard the noise, has invited all voices to be heard, has respectfully listened, has proactively solicited feedback and openly answered all of our questions, and leadership has demonstrated openness to new ideas when they support the growth of the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. It makes me proud to be a Docent.

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