Volunteering: Part of America’s Past and Future

I have always loved volunteering. In fact, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to help in as many areas as possible. I was a teacher’s aid in school. I was a candy striper during the summer while I was in high school. I helped out in VBS and Sunday School Classes as soon as I was old enough to do it. Then, think about it–the very nature of attending a church brings out the volunteer in you. You can work in the nursery, teach, help clean, pass out literature, join the music team and well, the list goes on.

So, when I discovered that this past week was National Volunteer’s Week that set me to thinking.  Why do we volunteer? Do we expect to get anything out of it when we do?

Our country has always had a history of volunteerism.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin created the first volunteer firehouse. Did you know that even today 70% of all firefighters are volunteers?

During war times people have always banded together. Some volunteered to join the military; others formed groups that raised funds or darned socks, made bandages, or whatever needed to be done. We’ve all heard of the “minute men” who were a volunteer militia.

Since then many volunteer organizations have been formed. The ones that come to the top of my mind are the YMCA,  The Red Cross, United Way, Lion’s Club and the Peace Corps. There are hundreds of others.

I think it’s safe to say that how we volunteer changes as America’s needs change. In times of want we seem to know how to come together in a really inspiring way. I am reminded of pictures of the aftermath of 9-11. My brother-in-law, Roy Hervas, was part of a team from a fire department in Schaumburg, Illinois that immediately joined the efforts and went to New York to help the city. This happened all across our country. We do the same thing to communities that are hit by natural disasters. We donate money, food, time. It is one of the things that make America great.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” Anne Frank

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“A single act of kindness is like a drop of oil on a patch of dry skin–seeping, spreading, and affecting more than the original need.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” –Barack Obama

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1.  Volunteering is a great way to meet people.  If you are new in town, retired, lonely, looking for a change, volunteering will bring new people into your life. Bonus, many of these people will have the same interests that you do. I mean, after all, you volunteered for the same organization so you have those goals in common!

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    We had so much fun planning our recent character breakfast! #otpbreakfastclub
  2.  Volunteer work builds relationships. I know this one might sound a lot like the previous point, but it is much more. Many of my best friends are people who I’ve met through volunteering. When you work together towards a common goal there is a certain kinship that is formed. These relationships can turn into connections that can help you find jobs or a best friend. Many times these relationships are like a second family!
  3. Volunteering helps you gain confidence. There is a certain confidence boost in trying something new and achieving success!
  4. Volunteering can help you gain new skills. Interested in learning something new? Many organizations are willing to teach you skills to help you participate in the area of your interest. My son, Daniel, started volunteering at a very young age. Our technical director at that time, Rich Fuchs, spent many hours cultivating a love of all things technical in him. Daniel went on to apply that interest to his life and his career.
  5. Volunteering helps you make a difference. You fill a real need when you volunteer. You make a difference in people and in turn help your community.

At this point you might be thinking….”I thought this blog was supposed to be ramblings about the theater….”

Well, I will be honest, Overshadowed couldn’t exist without volunteers. In fact, Overshadowed is ALL volunteer. Can you believe it?  If I had to count the number of volunteer hours multiplied by the number of volunteers I couldn’t do it. I am so blown away by the generosity of all of them. And still, we need more. We are always looking for ushers, seamstresses, construction help, actors, artists, marketing help, technical workers and in short, more hands. We are so thankful for each of them. Every hour they spend is priceless. So today, this blog is for them. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for believing in the mission of Overshadowed enough to give something so irreplaceable ….your time. Thank you for this community, you have helped build this band of friends that is theater with a difference. Thank you for helping create and inspire. Please don’t forget or grow weary. You make a difference. Thank you!

Do you have any stories about volunteers or volunteering? Or a way a volunteer or volunteering has made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Reba

By No Stretch of the Imagination

On a wonderful spring afternoon in 1972 I entered the doors of the local high school theater auditorium and sat down on the back row. For most people this would not be a matter of importance at all. But for me…well, maybe I’d better give you a few more details.

We moved back to Kinston, N.C. when I was entering the ninth grade. We lived down the street from the town’s high school. But my parents investigated the Christian school that was a little further out in the country and decided that was a good place for me to attend. I guess I really didn’t care which school I was going to attend. This was the one that my uncle was the principal of and my aunt would be my English teacher and my mom would teach there. I might have felt both fortunate and trapped! Looking back, all I really remember is that I made a few good friends, but never really felt like I fit in anywhere until I went to college.

I knew many of the students at the public school, well that really isn’t true. I wanted to know many of those students. I saw them in church and sometimes in the plays the high school would produce. Somehow, it isn’t a big surprise that I would get up enough courage to walk into this auditorium and plop myself down in a seat and just watch.

It was wonderful.

I watched the students running lines. I watched the director giving staging directions. I watched the choreography rehearsal and dreamed. Dreamed that I was the one up there getting all that instruction.

Somehow, I managed to sneak in and out of those rehearsals for days. I couldn’t wait for opening night!

Opening Night!

I bought a seat a few rows away from the orchestra, center stage. I was there and in my seat almost as soon as the doors opened. I can almost hear it now.

One by one each instrument began their individual process of tuning. Each made their sounds and then slightly adjusted the pitch until it was exactly in tune. The piano or drum banged out different notes and then played scales as they limbered up their fingers. This continued for about ten or fifteen minutes. All around me other audience members found their seats and the room began to expand with an aura of excitement. I sat memorized. I looked up at the lights and studied the way they were configured.  I looked at the orchestra members. I devoured the play program. I read all the bios and almost memorized what song would come first and all the synopsis of scenes.

Then, the conductor took his place and the overture began.  Slowly,  the lights began to dim. There is nothing more magical than that moment when the orchestra, audience and actors breathe together to create that unforgettable moment.

I count myself fortunate that I am lucky enough to have a vivid imagination. I believe it is one of the wonderful gifts God gave me when I was created, but also, my mom instilled in me a love of reading. Reading, helps expand a imagination.

That imagination helped theater become a haven for me. Theater, done right, can become a shelter. It is place where dreamers aren’t scoffed and the “uncool” aren’t picked on. It is a place where all talents (both artistic, mathematical and technical) come together as one.

Was my imagination stretched by theater? Yes. And it continues to be every day.

Day by day our culture is wanting things to come to them instead of having to leave their comfy home. Live streaming of events. Uber eats instead of going out.

Please don’t ever replace live theater. The world would be a little less wonderful without all the good that comes from this kind of imagination.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
 Yep. I might be a little like Anne, with an E. Imagination. It’s such an interesting world.  don’t you agree?
(My first playbill. “The Hanging of Uncle Dilby” My high school drama club play. Can you find me?)
Until next time,
Reba

Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.

There is a certain magic in meeting one of the Disney characters or even a cast member from a favorite show,  isn’t it? Even adults like to get their picture taken with one of their childhood favorites. In fact, many of my friends go back to Disney year after year even after their children have moved out!

I was lucky enough that my parents lived in Orlando so yearly we would take my children to visit their grandparents, but we also had the mixed blessing of taking annual trips to see the “mouse.” Each of my children responded differently to these wonderful fairytale characters. Rebecca, my oldest, was always timid and really had no interest in going closer to this larger-than-life mouse. Daniel, on the other hand, had no fear. He would climb out of the stroller faster than we could stop him and run to give every character, especially Winnie-the-pooh, a great big hug. Continue reading “Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.”

Mary Stuart: A Theater Review

I have long been a fan of all things Elizabethan.  That shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It is a time period that is remembered for its richness in drama and poetry. The leap to why I am  a fan isn’t difficult.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier is my ideal theater. If someone IMG_3346
wanted to leave a legacy and build a theater for Overshadowed Theatrical Productions and told me they would build me anything I wanted….this would be the dream theater!  I love the intimacy. It seats hundreds, but there is not a seat in the house that you would feel apart from the action. It is breathtaking. Continue reading “Mary Stuart: A Theater Review”

The Journey Begins

There are a million blogs out there. You can find answers and opinions about reba new york 548712_10151191593584831_1978632005_neverything from how to write a blog to lists of all the ways you can be better at anything and everything. So why add a new one?

To be honest, I was told years ago that it was something I needed to do because I run a theater. That overwhelmed me and to be honest it still does. I don’t consider myself a good writer, but I feel like I’ve learned some things about theater that I would love to share. Perhaps I’ll talk a little more about everything that is involved in producing a play. Maybe I’ll talk about the journey to begin Overshadowed or the productions there. Or sometimes I’ll write about other productions around the area. Who knows? Maybe I can inspire you to go out and experience more theater on your own! At times, you just might learn more about me. And to be honest, I’m really hoping if I talk more about theater then maybe it will inspire more people to see theater or get involved in theater. Selfishly, I will want you to see how Overshadowed is different from other theaters and why I am so passionate about each and every thing we do.

Theater is personal to me. Life changing in every way.

  1. The first movie I remember vividly was The Sound of Music. I was in fifth grade and my father told me that I could go if I wouldn’t cry when he told me he was being sent to Viet Nam.
  2. The first live play I attended was ShowBoat. I really believe my Aunt Mary took me to get my mind off my father who was then in the war.
  3. The first play I had the opportunity to audition for was You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I chickened out.
  4. The next chance I got I auditioned and received chorus parts in both How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Godspell.
  5. My high school had a very small drama department, but I did manage to have enough courage to join the drama club which meant I was one of about 6 other people who staged a small play. It’s terrible, but I can’t remember the name….

I was hooked. I knew that whatever I did with the rest of my life it had to involve theater. And I have never looked back.

Okay. You are thinking, “But you said it changed your life. How did it do that?”

  1. It gave me self-confidence. Yep. I didn’t have ANY. In fact,  I didn’t even have enough confidence to even answer a question in class.
  2. It taught me the importance of team work. In blogs to come I will say more about how a cast and crew can be like a sports team.
  3. It  improved my communication skills. I had to have speech therapy when I was young. My parents would record me reading to encourage my speaking skills. As much as I loved to talk I had a hard time expressing my thoughts.
  4. It strengthened my memory skills. Ask me about this! It’s one of my strongest skills! (Ok that sounded a little proud….let’s just say confident!)
  5. It gave me appreciation for all of the arts. ALL art forms. Can I say again? Our God is an artist!!

And that’s just the beginning.

Here’s the plan. Blog at least once a week.  I’ve heard that it is more important to be consistent than to have multiple posts so I’m going to stick to something I think I can handle.  I am going to post every Monday morning. Here’s where my lack of technical experience comes in. I’m not sure I know how to schedule it exactly so I’m going to try to send it out between 10-noon. There’s always something rambling around in this old head so maybe there will be extra entries from time to time!

“I love it when you go to see something, and you enter as an individual, and you leave as a group. Because you’ve all been bound together by the same experience.”
Tom Hiddleston

I might be taking the first step of this journey alone, but I hope as we travel together our experiences will form a brand new band of friends!

Thank you for joining me!IMG_1419

 

Reba