Sunday, November 23, 2003

More honored volunteers


Online extra

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A round of applause for these tireless volunteers for the arts:

Scott and Wes Ledyard of Monfort Heights are the "premiere" volunteers for Showbiz Players says president Bunny Arszman. Wes has been crew chief for five years, "we have no idea how we'd survive without her."

Talk about a sense of humor. After the theater had to be evacuated during The Civil War because the smoke detectors went off, Wes' first words over the headset upon returning were, "You think we used enough fog there, Bun?"

Scott is also a godsend, says Arszman. He fixes everything and during The Baker's Wife he brought in seven bread makers and timed them so the audience would begin to smell real brad baking during the song "Warm Fresh Bread."

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Mary Anne Wehrend says Jim and Sherry Myers have volunteered for every gallery opening at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center since 1999.

"This dynamic husband and wife team" from Cincinnati arrive early to set up, bar tools in hand, and serve well over 1,000 people at every event. And they donate their tips to the Covington art space!

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The Children's Theatre thanks Maureen Sweeney, who is the woman who secures complimentary parking for subscribers and donates the candy the theater seels in the lobby before productions.

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John Dagenbach and his family thank community theater The Sunset Players for being there in his time of need. A year ago, what Dagenbach thought was severe bronchitis turned out to be a tumor on his kidney, pulmonary embolis, and too many complications.

Now cancer free, Dagenbach recalls how longtime Sunset Player Don Frimming asked the theater troupe to do a benefit for the Dagenbachs, and an extra performance of Beau Jest was scheduled and performed to standing room only. Sunset Players' kindness, says Dagenbach, "goes to the heart of one very grateful family."

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Tim Swallow of Southgate is the volunteer managing director of Cincinnati World Cinema. Larry Bourgeois, the executive director of Old St. George says Swallow's "vision for what film can do to foster community and spiritual renewal is a real blessing to our community."

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Dianne Bishop is president of Friends of the Pops, but when she's not handling her gavel she (with husband Ernie) are recruiting volunteers, stuffing and collating mailings, blowing up balloons, organizing the Pops float in the Reds Opening Day Parade. And the next time you see "Mr. Pops" at a Pops concert, say hi to Ernie and tell him "well done!"

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League of Cincinnati Theatres' president Laura Lowe Everhart extends huge thanks to Jim Stump (and, it's not nepotism, she insists) and Jerry Lowe (her dad) without whose tireless efforts this season's Curtains Up! Party season-starter event "couldn't have happened."

Ringmaster Stump helped with donations from restaurants and theaters, created centerpieces "and was an all-around great guy." Lowe was the even't production coordinator, who took on the not-small task of creating a performance schedule for the evening and riding herd on almost 20 theaters to see that the curtain did go up, and keep going up.

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"Carol Stryker has been our personal crusader, secret weapon and voice of reason for nearly a decade," says Madcap Puppets' Jerry Handorf, who thanks the Wyoming resident especially for knowing when and where to place her soft-spoken words. She's invaluable to Madcap's residency at Cincinnati Art Museum (where she has been a docent for 20 years.)

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University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music thanks John Harrison for being "a great friend-raiser." "John gives with his heart and works hard," says CCM's Carrie Throm. The man behind CCM's new Harmony Fund will " stuff envelopes and schlep tables like anyone else but he puts his passion into action by mobilizing others to get involved."

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Among the 2,600 volunteers who went above and beyond the call for Tall Stacks: John Mercer was on site from 5:45 a.m. until after midnight every day, driving golf carts and controlling the cart traffic on Public Landing; Christine Macklin pulled several shifts every day, supervising the first volunteer support shift every day and taking on the check-in process; Sara Dennerline was supervisor in children's area Sawyertown every day from 8:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. where about 60,000 children had fun under her watchful eyes.

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Jill Leslie has been a Summerfair volunteer since 1990 and been an integral part of the event ever since, working directly with exhibitors during set-up and teardown, working on traffic control and trouble-shooting. (And thanks for bringing along husband Tom, a member of the samed "The Gang" of key troubleshooters.)

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Contemporary Dance Theater's Jefferson James salutes CDT's Work Scholarship Students, who open and close the studio, answer the phone, sign in students for classes, clean CDT home base College Hill Town Hall, usher, rake leaves, shovel snow, put up and take down storm windows, fix plumbing, replace light bulbs...

Thanks, says James, to Rose Baz, Rick Bedel, Ashli Eisenman, Todd Juengling, Colleen McCarty, Corrie Price, Isabelle Provosty, Alissa Stachowski and Kristin Suess.

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Sharonville Fine Arts Council says thanks to Sue Koetz and Robin Kurlas for myriad contributions, and especially for being instrumental in the council's participation in the first annual fair at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.

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Werner Wischerath came to community theater 15 years ago, when he was servicing Melissa Smith's car and she asked him if he could build some self-destructing props. Since then he's been a stage crew member, stage manager and special effects designer and builder for theaters including Tri-County Players, Footlighters and Wyoming Players.

The Kenwood resident finally went on stage for the first time in late October, when Wyoming Players decided the ideal candidate for a role in The Night of January 16th was its stage manager.

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Mary Ellen BeCraft is a great volunteer for School for Creative and Performing Arts. She organizes volunteers, from backstage crew to ushers to T-shirt vendors, she feeds hundreds of tech students and performers during long rehearsal days, she attends (endless) production team meetings.

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Ovation Theatre says thanks to Julia Kyser and Deborah McDonald, who both came to the theater as Business Volunteers for the Arts and joined the board. Kyser, who lives in Madiera, specializes in accounting, McDonald of Ft. Thomas is the strategic planner. They've both been "incredibly supportive."

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Hilda Gilbert has volunteered with Growth in Motion since 1979. In her 50s at the time, she signed up for a course called authentic movement at a slower pace and stayed to join the board, find grant opportunities, be an adviser "and give me strength to go on when it was really touch and go," says Fanchon Shur.• • • 

Bennyce Hamilton as an alto and a Cincinnati firefighter. When the Bond Hill resident isn't singing, says MUSE Choir director Cathy Roma, Hamilton is taking on "insurmountable obstacles" like tackling the risers and building needed equipment.

Last January she and fellow alto, Wyoming resident and computer whiz Kim Singleton-Filio together put on MUSE's most successful silent auction ever and they'll be back leading the next one in February.

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Bennyce Hamilton as an alto and a Cincinnati firefighter. When the Bond Hill resident isn't singing, says MUSE Choir director Cathy Roma, Hamilton is taking on "insurmountable obstacles" like tackling the risers and building needed equipment.

Last January she and fellow alto, Wyoming resident and computer whiz Kim Singleton-Filio together put on MUSE's most successful silent auction ever and they'll be back leading the next one in February.

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One Saturday every month for the last three years, Nancy Baehner of Fort Wright has volunteered at every Families Create! program offered by the Taft Museum of Art. OK, she's missed a couple "for vacations and knee surgery."

She greets everyone, does last-minute registration, gives directions, remembers everyone's names, circulates through the room, finding more supplies, helping where needed.

"You can tell there's noting Nancy would rather be doing on a Saturday," says Lowellette Lauderdale, assistant curator for family and studio programs. "Her dedication to the program and love for the families really shines through."

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Caryl Hefley found Footlighters in 1992, when Tim Binzer lured her into assisting his tech work on Follies. Since then she has mastered the contrary lighting board, taken on sound design, helped build sets, destroy sets, clean storage rooms and bathrooms, been photographer for many productions and as Footlighters board president she made sure this 40th anniversary season would be A Big Deal.

In real life a videographer for WCPO, Hefley filmed more than three dozen interviews and edited them into a 10-minute promotional video in time for the season kick-off in September

"To say that blood, sweat and tears went into her labor of love is not even remotely an exaggeration. From Footlighters to Caryl, thank you for finding us and making us your home company."

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Mad Anthony Theatre Company, in residence at the Fitton, says thanks to Carolyn Grady and Ruby Lickert. By day they work with a mental health agency and were looking for an evening volunteer activity that would take their minds off the job. Props, set painting and prompting have done the trick.

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Beth Snyder logged about 400 volunteer hours this year with Festival of the New. They were darned efficient hours, too, in which the Turpin Hills resident, among many, many tasks, coordinated all the copy and design elements for the brochure and handled the distribution (personally delivering about 100,000 to various locations around town).

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Arlene Gibeau is the undisputed Queen of Art in Covington, says Jennifer Weber, executive director of the Cathedral Foundation. The volunteer director of the Cathedral Art Gallery, her efforts are "tireless."

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Cincinnati Ballet tips its hat to Ronna Willis, who is the vital link between dancers and the board of trustees. Last year when she played The Grandmother in The Nutcracker (in Cincinnati and on tour) she coordinated the Thanksgiving feast for dancers and crew when they spent the holiday in Anchorage.

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The new Clear Stage Cincinnati "would never have gotten off the ground" without volunteer financial manager Francesca Peace, who manages to juggle Clear Stage duties with a full-time job and family at home in Point Pleasant.

Clear Stage artistic diretor Troy Bausch says Peace "is always the first one to say "I'll do it!" She never asks why, she's just overjoyed to be part of the birth of this company. She's also by far the sweetest and most thoughtful woman I have ever met (next to my mother, of course)."




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