Forget the Oscars, the Viola Awards in Flagstaff, Arizona is where all of the fascinating fashion is and where artists come together in celebration and comraderie. We were in for a treat Saturday night as over 400 locals came out to show their support for the arts and to look classy. Luckily, we each keep a nice outfit in the car for just such occasions. Though this being Flagstaff, attire ranged from jeans and a t-shirt to sequined gowns (to everything in between including kilts and Fat Tuesday sequined ties).
Jay and I found out about the event through a fellow AmeriCorps Alum, Elizabeth Vogler, who was Stage Manager for the evening. We joined a small team of volunteers who greeted guests and monitored the silent auction. Sharon got bumped up to the role of “Table Captain”, which involved selling raffle tickets to guests and encouraging guests to become members of the Flagstaff Cultural Partners or make pledges. This was what Arlington County would have referred to as a “highly responsible” position, and I was honored to be entrusted with it. It also gave me an excuse to introduce myself to a local legend that I had admired for a long time, Tony Norris.
Sharon and Jay at the Viola Awards
Working the event gave us a unique opportunity to reconnect with old friends and coworkers. Jay graduated from Northern Arizona University and we both lived in Flagstaff for long enough to feel like it is a second home. Most of the Viola winners were artists we recognized, like John Running, Canyon Movement Company, and the Museum of Northern Arizona‘s Hopi Festival. It was a bit strange to run into people we knew as acquaintances and try to explain that we no longer live there, but were back for a visit and were volunteering for the evening. Flagstaff is a transient town, so it’s hard to keep track of who’s a resident and who is just passing through.
Our fellow volunteers at the Silent Auction table
The event appeared to be a great success. The silent auction was popular, with the Joe Sorren painting (in the picture above) going for the highest bid at $950. In addition to the auction, they sold raffle tickets, commemorative wine glasses, and also took donations through pledge cards at the tables. The mood was enthusiastic. It was a really uplifting night at an otherwise stressful time for artists in Arizona. We were honored to be included in the community again.
These 11 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Dan Bloom. Thank you so much for the support!
While volunteering at the Garden of Tomorrow, I met Jerry Heikens, the founder of a group called the Phoenix Philanthropists, a new organization which provides “man power… brain power… and heart power” to the community. This group reminds me of the Community Volunteer Network volunteer program which I worked for in Arlington County, except that it is open to all age groups. They encourage people to get out and give what they can, even if that means volunteering for one Saturday every few months. They are amazingly prolific, with flexible volunteer opportunities every few days throughout Phoenix. This group gives us an easy way to plug into the community, even as outsiders who are only in Phoenix for a few days at a time.
Red Balloons were bought in honor of friends & family who had had cancer (photo credit: Tracy Poulos)
Last Tuesday we joined the Phoenix Philanthropists in volunteering for the Red Balloon Picnic, an anniversary celebration for the Wellness Community. The Wellness Community provides support for people with cancer and their loved ones. In the short time we were there I saw a few people come to their office for assistance and breathe a sigh of relief to learn about the extensive network of support they have available for absolutely no cost. The event itself was a free picnic for all of their participants and supporters.
Jay and Sharon at the Red Balloon Picnic
Events are usually the easiest and funnest “one time” volunteer opportunities available. Events need a large number of unskilled or semi-skilled workers and they usually treat volunteers to good food and a share of whatever entertainment is being provided. In the past, Jay and I have volunteered at beer festival fundraisers (a favorite of ours for obvious reasons), formal galas, family picnics, Relay For Life, food tasting fundraisers, and more.
Cowgirls Forever, dutch oven catering
This event offered a chance to meet other Phoenix Philanthropists and a delicious hot lunch catered by the Cowgirls Forever catering company. Somehow chicken just tastes better when it’s cooked over coals and when you’ve earned it from a few hours of welcoming guests and clearing trash cans.
We look forward to the next time we get an opportunity to volunteer alongside Jerry and his group.
These 6 Hours of Volunteering Were Sponsored By Cindi & Morgan Holt & Millie Randel – Thank You for the Support!