Gorman interviews Molly Wisman in a November 4, 2018 feature story about her volunteer service at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. The story will be published in aN UPCOMING NEWSLETTER OR ONLINE ARTICLE.

Topeka, Kansas—As you make your way into the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center the intense colors and excited shouts of curious children are muted by a gentle smile from Molly Wisman.

Molly, who lives in Topeka, is a violinist for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. She retired from the Menninger Clinic before becoming an active member in the local volunteer community.

Molly has been volunteering at the front desk for four years. According to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center’s website, volunteers create “memorable experiences for every family who walks through our doors.”

Molly has watched members’ families grow and change. “I get to know the kids and parents, and they get to know me,” she said. “I’ve seen a mom come in with one child, and then you notice she’s pregnant, and then she’s coming with two children.”

Molly works at the front desk, checking-in members and welcoming guests—however, her most important role requires a watchful eye.

“Even if it’s quiet at the front desk you have to keep your focus,” she said. “Sometimes a small child might try to go out the front door without an adult.”

Topeka, Kansas—Molly Wisman volunteers at the front desk at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. © James Gorman

Molly said volunteering at the Discovery Center has been a positive experience. “It kinda makes me feel younger,” she said.

Some families come so often she refers to them as her “Thursday regulars.”

Molly is also a member and brings her two grandchildren to the Discovery Center.

“I wish we had someplace like this when my kids were growing up,” she said.

As a volunteer, Molly has met many other grandparents. “I’m most surprised about the grandparents who are babysitting their grandchildren every day,” she said. 

When her friends ask her what she does, she tells them she is a “professional volunteer.” Molly spends a considerable amount of time volunteering in the community.

“It’s just nice to have something to do,” she said humbly. “If I don’t have something scheduled every day, I would waste time.”

Molly doesn’t have time to spare. In addition to the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, she also regularly volunteers with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, Meals on Wheels, United Way, and the Topeka Christmas Bureau.

She attributes her commitment to volunteer service to the kindness and generosity of people in her life.

“My parents were always very giving and active in my school,” she said, adding that her husband is always willing to help “anyone with anything.”

Molly encourages others to consider volunteering at the Discovery Center.

“It’s busy. They can really use the help, and they make you feel needed,” she said.