We recently talked to Laura, our Director of Operations, about what it is like to be a volunteer. Laura is also our volunteer coordinator and house manager. In her episode, she breaks down all you need to know about what it takes to be a volunteer at our Summer Nights with the Stars events. Check out her interview below!
Q: Explain the volunteer program
A: I take it from the minute we get an application from someone who wants to be a volunteer. We get together for orientation in the first part of every year. That orientation is basically, ”Can I scare you to death,” or “Do you want to continue doing this?” It gives them a little better idea of what the program entails. After that, we have a training meeting that we do in May right before the season starts. Even our old volunteers are part of this training.
We get the volunteers into the program and then work with them at every show, making sure everyone has a show assignment. Every position we have is so important. We can’t do anything without every single person. Somebody may think, “Well handing out programs isn’t that important.” It is HUGE! Every position is important, so putting the right people in the right places is something I really try hard to make happen.
Q: How many volunteers might you have at a large summer show?
A: At the bigger shows, we usually have 30 volunteers. The smaller shows we can usually get by with about 21.
Q: Laura, you used to be a volunteer yourself. Can you talk about what that’s like? For example, how many shows do volunteers typically work?
A: You know, that is pretty much open to the volunteer. How many do they want to work? We have some who only want to work two shows a year
Q: And you’re fine with that?
A: I’m fine with that, with the understanding that all of our volunteers are required to work two other programs a year. That might be working a Sunday Night concert, a Friday movie, a Chamber program, Active Pages, or something like that.
But they can work as many as they like. I don’t like it when people want to work all 15 shows. That’s exhausting.
Q: So do volunteers need to be able to be on their feet and lift a certain amount? What are the requirements?
A: You are on your feet most of the evening. Usually, our volunteers show up at 6 p.m. and they go home around 10 p.m. They are on their feet most of that time.
Lifting…for the most part, yes. We have chairs we need to lift. Not everybody can and that’s fine. But we do need people who can lift and bend over to pick up garbage at the end of the night. People who can walk in the grass. That’s another consideration.
One of the things we need most are people who can talk to the patrons. We call it being proactively friendly. That’s a big thing. Just people who can interact with all the patrons. We want patrons to feel comfortable when they come to a show. Volunteers need to smile. I always tell volunteers this venue is our home and you are welcoming people into our home. That’s what I want patrons to feel.
Q: So if someone is interested in volunteering, is it best to send them to our website?
A: Yes. On our website under “Join In” there is a link to sign up to be a volunteer for our shows. Once we receive the application, we will get back to you first of January for the orientation we will have. We stop taking people as new volunteers in March.
Q: If a couple wants to volunteer together, do they need separate applications?
A: Yes, because there are things on the application that are specific to each individual, like shirt size and certifications.
Q: Can you walk us through a “typical” show day? Can you walk us through from the time volunteers arrive to the time they leave?
A: About 6 p.m. our volunteers show up, we all clean the venue, and everyone gets their show assignments. Once the venue opens, everyone does the job they’ve been assigned. After the show, volunteers clean up the venue by picking up trash and stacking chairs. Then they sign out and go home.
But being a volunteer is one of those things that get in your blood. There’s a special kind of vibe in the venue on show days that just gives you this energy.
Is being a volunteer right for you?
So there you go! All the information about what it is like to be a volunteer. If you would like to volunteer, fill out a volunteer application on our website.
Check out this video to hear from our volunteer, Terry, about why she chooses to volunteer with us.