Meet Erin Seamans, Development Assistant
Heidi: We have another great interview to follow up with APS Cares and we are speaking with Erin Seamans. She's usually conducting these interviews but today she's on the other side of the interview and I will be interviewing her. So let's start with you telling us about your position at APS.
APS' favorite Development Assistant, Erin Seamans, hiking Rae Lakes Loop in California.
Erin: I am the development assistant; what I basically do is handle the donation acknowledgments and fundraising campaigns (and recently, some events). Before and during the stay-at-home order I have been supporting the APS Content team with some content projects as they arise.
Erin is a woman who wears many hats at the APS; she always does it with a smile and we appreciate that. How long have you worked at the American Philatelic Society?
Not too long, not as long as other people, I started working at the APS about 8 months ago. It was when I needed a change of pace from my previous career, through which I worked with children and families for a number of years. When I first started working at the APS I was hired as a membership assistant, which is quite different from my current role. Soon after I was given the opportunity to move into this role. I really enjoy all the different things I get to do in this role.
So far from your eight months being with us can you share a fond memory about your coworkers? For example, typically on a Friday at the APC the whole place would smell like popcorn and we'd all be gathered in the lunchroom to share some . . . what would be another fond memory for you?
Let's see, this might seem like a small thing but I enjoy getting a random email in the morning from Gary [Loew, Director of Expertizing], saying that he has munchkins waiting for us in the kitchen. (Munchkins are those little donut holes from Dunkin Donuts.) They are super tasty and I always pick out the blueberry ones because those are my favorite, so I usually will scurry on down to the kitchen and grab a couple. It's a really nice treat to know that your coworkers are thinking of you even in the smallest of ways. I miss that.
That is a great memory and leave it to Gary to be so thoughtful. We have a nice working environment and there's no doubt about it. You are a part of that too Erin - your door is always decorated for holidays and to celebrate a certain history month - and seeing your smile and willingness to help us out is wonderful. So the feeling is mutual. What are the best and most fun parts of your job?
I would say that some of the best parts of my job are talking with members, coworkers, and volunteers when they come through, especially talking about their stamp collection, why they started it and the history behind it. In many of the interviews that I've done so far with our coworkers for APS Cares I've literally learned something new about stamps from their own personal experiences. I'm still even learning right now . . . immediately after an interview I'll go onto Google . . . and get into this researching mode to learn more about the things they shared about. I think that's one of the best parts of the job . . . is that I'm always learning something new that I didn't know about stamps and how intricate they are. That's really the best part, learning people's stories.
Stamps really are a beautiful launchpad for learning people's stories. I'm sure you've heard some really interesting histories not just from our staff but our members as well. You're so easy to talk to, so you probably can get somebody's whole history in a single phone call. We have a tremendous website which is very dynamic, which resource do you want to point people to and have a particular fondness for?
So I'd like to highlight two places on the website: one relates to my job and the other is a personal favorite. The first resource is the stamps.org/support page, which outlines all of the different ways people can donate to and/or support the APS. It outlines various different degrees of giving, whether that be financially or through materials that we can use in our education department, books or journals to add to our library, stamps to be added to our gift shop to be resold or the Reference Collection to be used by the Expertizing department, or mint stamps for use on our mailings. People might not know that this year we saved about $58,000 on our mailings by using donated postage, thanks to the generosity of APS members.
I want to point out that there are many different ways to support the APS, even besides financial/in-kind donations; for example, in the month of October, which is National Stamp Collecting Month, we have resources like posters so individuals can share about the hobby and encourage people to start collecting.
Truly there's no better way to support the APS than to recruit new collectors, yes.
On a more personal note, a resource on the website that I love is on the Newsroom page (stamps.org/news): if you go to the Videos tab there are a bunch of videos . . . but I want to specifically point out "Exploring Stamps" with Graham Beck, I love those videos. When I first started working at the APS, these were my gateway to learning more about stamps. I love that it is all about traveling to different places and learning the histories of stamps . . . . and a lot of times he actually goes to the places that are on the stamps. Especially during this time when we all are missing out on some travel plans, we can find a cool way to travel in a different way.
We are a sponsor of Exploring Stamps and it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of a highly acclaimed series, so I think that a lot of people would concur with you, Erin. Erin is a world traveler herself, and she loves to backpack and explore the globe and that love of traveling and international travel bodes well with the philatelic community which is also international and diverse. The million dollar question is, are you a stamp collector?
Well I don't know if I'm allowed to say I'm officially a stamp collector but I definitely inching towards it. When I started working as a membership assistant, I got to put a lot of postage on envelopes and through doing that I ended up buying a couple of stamps because I got really excited about how beautiful the stamps were. So one of my favorites is a 4-cent stamp that depicts Arizona with a scene of a desert and a cactus with some flowers . . . and as you kind of mentioned before, I love traveling . . . I lived in California for a number of years and loved the warm climate. I've also talked to our volunteers about my interest in cacti, environmental issues and national parks, and so certain little items have been showing up on my desk as they find stamps that relate to those. So thanks to their help my collection of stamps and covers is growing slowly and getting bigger.
One of Erin's favorite stamps: the 1962 Arizona 50-year statehood commemorative.
It's an occupational hazard that somehow the desk becomes a place where you have piles of stamps and covers. And now I know what you like and I'll be on the hunt as well to find things. So you were mentioning that you have some interface with our members, particularly in the fundraising department, is there something you'd our members to know about yourself?
Some people at work might know this, but I used to be a Connections Specialist, which is a fancy way of saying that I supported foster youth to reconnect with family, friends and supportive adults. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had and it was an amazing experience to work with these youth, they are amazing individuals and they have made a long-lasting impact on my life. So, as inspired by those experiences, I am currently working towards getting a professional genealogical certificate because I would like to continue to support people to reconnect with family and work towards building out people's family histories.
I think you also mentioned this as well, but I have traveled a lot and lived in quite a few places, including England, Spain, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Florida and Pennsylvania, where I'm at currently. So when I get calls from members worldwide, I get really excited and I always ask where they have visited, how the weather is, and best places to grab a bite to eat where they are.
I love that you ask people about the weather and the best places to eat in their area because we have APS members around the world and we are making new friends everywhere. It's really great how we can connect on a human basis. You do a lot of work with the YPLF Newsletter and I would love for you to share about the program and newsletter.
So YPLF stands for Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship, which is a year-long scholarship program that supports young stamp collectors, 16-24 years old. I send out a quarterly newsletter highlighting our alumni, current fellows and donors of the YPLF program as well as some other important things that are going on throughout the year. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to interview these fellows and can help them stay connected through a group on LinkedIn. So if you are an alumni of the YPLF program please connect with me so you can join the group.
I think it is a really amazing program because you get many opportunities to gain experience in the philatelic community: APS membership; attending stamp shows; meeting other young philatelists; a mentor to guide you in a philatelic field; attending Summer Seminar; and picking a specific track to specialize in. In the newsletter, I share about the stories and journeys of how the fellows learned about the program and the exciting experiences they had during their fellowship. So I usually send out the newsletter and that same day the full interviews of the fellows and donors are posted in the Newsroom at stamps.org. I do encourage our members to read about our amazing fellows and donors, they have some amazing stories about philately. Again, I'm very grateful to have the chance to interview them all.
How have you explained your job to your friends and family?
I usually say I work for a non-profit, which is not surprising to them because I've always worked for those my whole career. But it's always an interesting twist when I say the non-profit is for stamp collecting . . . to which the response is usually, "What?" I then share with them that the APS is national and worldwide, that it is dedicated to a really cool hobby that not everyone knows about . . . and I'll bust out a few stamps that I own or have a long discussion about a video that I watched on Exploring Stamps. I think people are really amazed when I share the amount of members that we have, which really shows how dedicated our members are to philately and the APS. By the end of any conversation I have with family or friends, the consensus is usually that they learned something.
Absolutely, I would become a believer. You are a tremendous personality in the American Philatelic Society . . . you do so much for all the people in the departments and you are a ray of sunshine at the APS. How have you transitioned to working at home ?
Well, working at home has been quite a transition . . . my apartment is starting to feel a lot smaller. The question of the day now, after eating breakfast with my boyfriend, is which room do we get for the day? Today I got the living room and he got the kitchen, so it’s always a fun time deciding every morning. But that's been a transition. We've found that it's really important to create spaces that are going to be good for the day and help us stay focused for work.
I love routines, so just like when I would go into the office, I set up my desk, log-in to everything, check my emails and check in with different coworkers, attend meetings and work on various content projects. I do still print acknowledgments, but it's a different process and there are some acknowledgments that need to wait until my return to the office due to the way in which we print them. Printing those will be a priority once I am able to get back into the office. So that is what my transition has looked like.
And you have been able to keep in touch with your fellow employees since you have taken on the APS Cares interviews. We appreciate our members who have shared how much they care about our well-being . . . and that's why Erin has taken charge to share the faces of APS with these interviews. Don't forget to check our Erin's Top 10 Playlist on APS YouTube featuring Exploring Stamps. Any other closing thoughts before we bid adieu, Erin?
I just want to thank all of my coworkers, members and volunteers for always being supportive and welcoming me into this community, even though I am still learning. You've proven that collecting is a fun and exciting way to keep people connected, so I am definitely falling for philately as time goes on. I am really appreciative to be a part of an amazing community and APS.
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Erin enjoys camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. Taken at Mammoth Lakes, California.
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Erin backpacks at Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon, California.
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At the 2019 APS Holiday Party, from left: Nora, Marian, Erin, Tina and Sarah.
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Erin and Steph decorate a gingerbread house during the APS Holiday Party.
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It's easy to add items to your collection with the help of APS volunteers Leonard and Darlene, who keep an eagle eye out for potential material that may interest individual APS staff members. Here are just a few items they found for Erin.
If you would like to support APS Cares, you can send a check to:
American Philatelic Society
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823
c/o APS Cares
Or Support the APS Staff Online:
Please select APS Cares in the Gift Designation.