Back in March, before the world changed, a group of people from various Niagara-on-
the-Lake arts and culture organizations planned a meeting to discuss celebrating their volunteers.
This week, April 19 to 25, is National Volunteer Week, and, Cheryl Morris, member of the Shaw Guild and Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, had planned the meeting to collaborate on how best to recognize the volunteers who are a driving force behind hundreds of arts and cultural events that happen in the community each year.
Many of the organizations host annual events for their volunteers, and one of the topics for discussion could have been about a collaborative celebration, but of course that meeting couldn’t happen, says Morris.
“We never got the chance to talk about it,” she says.
Instead, during this time of uncertainty, NOTL’s arts and cultural organizations are joining together to send a shout-out to their volunteers.
Volunteers work tirelessly and make a difference every day of the year, bringing expertise, energy and dedication to everything they do, but during this time of staying at home and physical distancing, much of their work has been put on hold.
At this time of year, says Morris, members of the Shaw Guild would be busy with performances, hosting and greeting patrons, working in the gardens, and getting ready for the popular annual garden tour. Instead performances have been cancelled until June 30, and the annual garden tour has been postponed until 2021.
It’s difficult for volunteers who want to get out and help by doing what they enjoy doing, she says, but they’ve continued to communicate, keep in touch and share stories, she says.
“Whether their role is greeting guests, organizing and participating in events and exhibits, fundraising, or answering a call for help, their gift of time sustains artistic and cultural organizations allowing them to do what they do best — illuminate lives and enrich the world through their dedicated support,” says Morris in a recent news release to honour volunteers.
“Besides the value volunteers bring to each organization, their contribution to the worldwide renown of Niagara-on-the-Lake as a premier tourist destination is unmatched.”
Despite the cancellation of so many events, says Morris, it’s important to recognize and thank volunteers.
To each and every volunteer, the following organizations send a collective thank you.
“Cheers to the Guild’s team of 350 volunteers! Your donation of over 13,500 hours last year and your fundraising efforts to support the production of A Christmas Carol contributed to a terrific 2019 season at the Shaw Festival.” – The Shaw Guild, Laurie Harley, President, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum. They are hardworking, passionate, smart, and just as important, they are fun. Their commitment provides an invaluable support to the staff, and without them the ongoing success of the Museum would not be possible.” Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, Sarah Kaufman, managing director/curator, email@example.com
“The Board and Staff of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre would like to send our heart-felt thanks to our volunteers for their contribution not only to the success of all of our special events from artists’ exhibits, to the Fashion Show, Art At The Pumphouse, Moonlight Picnic and Artful Treasures, but also to the volunteers who tirelessly worked on the renovation. We can’t wait for our doors to open again.” – Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, Patti Knipe, volunteer relations chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
“We value all our wonderful volunteers, sending an extra special thank you to our weekly volunteers and to the leaders of our incredibly successful 2019 art sale fundraiser.” – RiverBrink Art Museum, Debra Antoncic, director/curator, email@example.com
“Thanks to each and every TD Niagara Jazz Festival volunteer for your dedication and support. We couldn’t do it without you and we truly appreciate all that you do. A special shout out to Mary Garratt, our Volunteer Administrator, whose efforts make it all possible.” – Niagara Jazz Festival, Juliet Dunn, executive director/artistic producer/co-creator, firstname.lastname@example.org
“For 22 years, Music Niagara Festival has presented world-class experiences in unique and intimate settings that connect the community and beyond, educate and inspire audiences and artists, and enhance Niagara-on-the-Lake’s rich heritage and culture. Music Niagara would not be possible without the support of our dedicated volunteers. A huge thank you to our loyal volunteers that helped us evolve into a world-class summer music festival.” – Music Niagara Festival, Karen Lade, general manager, email@example.com