Our volunteer of the month features Joe DeCillis – a Westerleigh resident who has been dedicating his time to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art since 1968. A Brooklyn native, DeCillis, 80, received his first degree in History and Economics from Brooklyn College in 1961. He later was accepted to many fellowships, including one that took him to the University of Hawaii to focus on Polynesian studies. He started his career on Wall Street but making money did not satisfy DeCillis. “You have to give back,” DeCillis said, talking about why he volunteers. “Money won’t do it.”
He then started to focus on a teaching career but traveling the world at the same time. So how did he get to Staten Island? DeCillis was asked to speak at the Staaten by someone he knew at Brooklyn College. It was a lecture about how to understand the symphony, given to members of the Staten Island Catholic Club – where his wife, Marie, was in attendance. Soon after, they were married and living on Staten Island. He became a volunteer at the museum after taking art classes with former director Rosemary Tung who suggested a volunteer position to him because of his interest in Chinese and Japanese studies. DeCillis said he was “mesmerized” by the beauty of the museum and has been there ever since.
For DeCillis, volunteering gives him the chance to meet people from all over the world, learn new things, and participate in something worthwhile that benefits the community. In his spare time, he volunteers at his church, attends opera classes at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, and also participates in the meditation classes at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art with his wife.
Meet Joe and get a personal tour from him every Friday at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art right here on Staten Island. You won’t be disappointed!