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New Yoakum museum director knows value of history

By Sonny Long
Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.

Brenda Coleman is the new executive director of the Yoakum Heritage Museum. Coleman brings a background of fundraising and other work in the nonprofit arena to the position.

MUSEUM HOURS

The Yoakum Heritage Museum, 312 Simpson St., is open during the following hours.

1 to 4 p.m. - Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - FridayFor more information, call 361-293-7022.

SHAPING UP

Brenda Coleman, the new executive director of the Yoakum Heritage Museum, also works as a personal trainer and group exercise trainer at Yoakum Shape Shop. An avid cyclist, Coleman pedals about 100 miles a week in the Crossroads.

Brenda Coleman, the new executive director of the Yoakum Heritage Museum, is no stranger to nonprofit organizations.

Coleman met the man who would become her husband, Yoakum city manager Kevin Coleman, on a Habitat for Humanity build in Dallas.

"He was the construction supervisor and I was a volunteer," she said.

The couple later spent about 15 years working with Habitat in Abilene before she branched out and started a community housing development organization called Neighborhoods in Progress and later helped begin Adult Protective Services Partners.

She also helped establish Abilene's Habitat for Humanity Restore.

"My background is mainly fundraising, grant writing and start-ups," she said.

After accepting the museum position, Coleman visited many of the other museums in the small towns around Yoakum.

She also leans heavily on her board of directors and the museum's volunteers.

"The people dedicated to this museum are incredible," Coleman said. "They mean everything to the museum. It couldn't happen without them. They know the history of the community. They know the history of the exhibits here in the museum."

Helen Seekamp, president of the museum's board of directors, is pleased to have Coleman on board.

"I think she is fantastic," she said. "She is going to make a world of difference in our museum. We have a bright future with her at the helm. I am looking forward to working with her."

Coleman, a native of Irving who began her duties at the museum on Aug. 2, understands her role may change as she becomes acclimated.

"It's a big job," she said. "I want to see how things work before making any kind of changes. We have to prioritize what we have to do first.

"I hope to help provide some direction. I want to be the GPS. We need to figure out where we are going before we get in the car."

That's not to say Coleman is standing pat.

A new permanent exhibit is already planned for the museum. The permanent Tom Tom exhibit will join ongoing exhibits including the Leather Room, the Military Room and the Train Room.

Coleman also wants to improve organization within the museum.

"We need to catalog the exhibits," she said. "A system needs to be put in place so we can better find things and not rely on someone's memory."

Coleman would also like to see signs erected at the entrances to the city informing visitors of the museum.

"The museum has to be here. It's a way to protect our heritage," Coleman said. "This area is full of history and we don't want to lose that."

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