I did a promo spot for Berkeley Springs’ Hey, Girlfriend weekend (June 4-6) this morning on WHAG-TV channel 25 with my favorite news director — Mark Kraham.  This is what I learned from a decade-ago stint with my own TV talk show:  never stop smiling and never stop talking.  Oh yes…and the camera person is your best friend.

My favorite mass media to perform on is radio because…..they can’t SEE you.  You can phone it in.  You can have a bad hair day.  You can be a geek with a great voice.  Tomorrow is my monthly radio spot on WEPM in Martinsburg and I’ll be talking about all that’s happening here in the Center of the Universe this weekend: Studio Tour, quilt show, live auction of the Yard Square Quilts then next weekend’s Hey, Girlfriend.

As someone told me on Sunday having just come back from her winter living in Tuscon:  there’s lots more to do in Berkeley Springs and the people are much more fun.  It could be our new slogan: more fun than Tuscon!

Here’s a little change of pace to see if you’re paying attention.  Thursday night begins a summerlong preview of the true culture of the 21st century.  And it happens on a full moon adding even more kick.   The 84 year cycle begins in earnest in March 2011.  During this preview, expect a flood of new visions, new missions embracing the desire for change that is so strong right now — and needs a positive direction.  No one will be able to act on the overwhelming rush of new ideas — new as in never even thought it before — so take notes.  There are years available to work it out.

Since revolutionary change usually means upheaval, even if it is for the good, be prepared for a warp speed pace, explosive occurrences and lots of slower folks and old forms falling by the wayside.  This is a huge wave of energy breaking through to the surface — cracks will be made.

Enhance your calm because the universe is determined to wind everyone up a couple notches tighter.  If you happen to thrive on radical and innovative and love the idea of a faster pace, be generous with your compassion.  Not everyone chooses demolition derby for a Sunday afternoon drive.

The nature of this force stream is electrical.  Try not to short out the grid — or your brain — on too much.  Avoid being out in lightning storms.

I have no plan to make the blog a volunteer commentary but thought you’d like to know how the MAC annual meeting went in this regard.  In a word: fabulous! Nearly 50 people attended and thought it was terrific.   Better yet, they were inspired and many signed up for various volunteer tasks.  Since I have no clue how to attach a document, I’ll post the brief write-ups we used for the folks we honored. You organization folks might like the “categories.”  Feel free to use.

Special activity:  Volunteer Appreciation:  RECOGNIZE,RECONNECT, RECOMMIT

An organization like the Morgan Arts Council exists ONLY because there are literally hundreds of people ready, willing and able to lend their time and talent to the task of “getting art out there.”  We could stand here and read lists of names, probably in the hundreds since MAC has been around as a volunteer organization since 1977.  Instead, we want to tell you some stories of people who have given so much over the years.  These are not the only ones who have been outstanding volunteers.  We could do the same stories with dozens of other people.

1.   BIBI HAHN – Susan Caperton tells the story.
MAC holds a significant place in Morgan County not only as a result of our own efforts but also through the many  community connections MAC has with other organizations. One of the most important of these connections is with the Morgan County schools. MAC’s first program was putting artists in the local schools.  Somewhere along the line, the program was named Adopt a School.  Now, more than three decades, nearly 1000 artists and 30,000 students later, the people of Morgan County voted MAC as part of special levy funding – the only arts council in the state to have such support.

Adopt a school has had several champions over the years, but Bibi Hahn took it to the next level.  For several years Bibi did it all – finding artists, coordinating with teachers, arranging housing, writing grants, helping fundraise.  Bibi helped in other MAC activities as well including Art Auction.  Who can resist when a fairy queen comes calling?

Others:  Janet Salter, Kim Forry, Larry Springer

2.  ABBIE BROWN ……Ann Harkins tells the story
What can I do to help? may be the most exciting words to hear when you are struggling to cover all the jobs for the many events that MAC stages.  It is Abbie Brown’s favorite phrase.  Abbie’s generosity with her time and talent has no limits.  She does everything from take tickets for theater or concert performances to move tables to managing the Piecework staged readings. She’s been a member of the board of directors and of the theater committee.  On the side, Abbie has made choice character roles in Ice House Theater Project performances her own special niche.  Little old ladies, little old men, raunchy pirate, characters from Shakespeare and biblical stories – Abbie brings them to life.

OTHERS known for pitching in however they can:   Pam Mann,  Ralph Gonzales, Greg McGrath, Jackie Delbaugh

3.  GORDON MACLEOD – Denise Bergen tells this story.
In 1977 when nearly 50 people came together to form MAC, Gordon was there.  Years later when it was decided that we needed to attend a meeting in Charleston to plead our case for help with planning, Gordon was in the car.  The Commission on the Arts listened and MAC received a planning grant.  Gordon participated in all the meetings and was the first one to cast covetous glances at the building that was then a gym and is now the Ice House.  Everyone laughed.  Five years later, the building was MAC’s and Gordon was ready to help.  His list of accomplishments ranges from bucket brigades when the roof was off and it rained to becoming MAC’s first Summer Concert Czar.  In the name of MAC, Gordon does the sound for the Apple Butter Festival and for the summer concerts.

Gordon fills the category of many years, many jobs.  The years are more than three decades; the jobs are all those mentioned above as well as dozens more than can scarcely be recalled because Gordon makes it look so smooth and easy that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all that would not have happened without him.

Thanks Gordon, and rest assured – you have job security for another 30 years.

Others who have worn many hats over many years:  ragtime, JW Rone, Brice Williams

4.  JEFF THATCHER – Jeanne Mozier tells the story.
Sometimes a volunteer can totally change an organization like MAC by being in the right place at the right time and thinking about MAC when an opportunity arises.  That’s Jeff Thatcher.  If not for him, none of us would be in this building today for a MAC annual meeting.

In 1995, Jeff’s wife Jeanne was on the MAC board.  He was working for US Borax (now Silica) and knew that the new owners of the sand mine did not want the cold storage building.  US Borax did not want it either.  It had been on the market for more than a year with no offers.  “If you write Borax and ask them for the building, I think they might give it to MAC,”  he said one day.  The letter was written and in less than a month (February 1996) Borax gave the building to MAC.  Jeff stayed around to help get the Ice House up and running including developing safety protocols.

The Thatchers left Berkeley Springs for California…..but, not forever.  They recently
bought a house in Berkeley Springs and will soon be back here permanently.

Others who were in the right place at the right time:
Gary Reynolds, acting as tech director for Asleep at the Wheel
Dave Smith, organizing a MAC golf tournament fundraiser

5. KAREN RAGAN – Bob Marggraf tells the story.
Everyone knows how to spend money – and that is certainly true of MAC especially once the Ice House came on the scene. It’s raising money that scares people off – grants, fundraising calls, the art auction and its successor – Art and Elegance — and a million other ideas about keeping the revenue stream going with donations.

Karen Ragan has been interested in towing  “the money line” for MAC since she first discovered MAC about a decade ago.  Karen started with house parties then moved on to being a key part of the Art and Elegance team.  She sells tables, checks details and generally lends class and charm to the event.

Others known for not being afraid to raise money:   Roger Salen, Matt Hahn

6. SANDRA EARLS – story told by Lynn Lavin
We’ve heard about volunteers who do many tasks, now we’ll hear about Sandra Earls and how a volunteer can own a project.  In 1995, Sandra was one of MAC’s first two employees – at quarter time.  Her task was to work with teachers and administrators in the schools setting up a detailed structure for involving them in the Adopt a School program.  As part of that assignment, she created the first-ever county-wide youth art show.  Within two years, the grant was over and Sandra decided to continue organizing the youth art show as a volunteer.  It was moved to the Ice House and now, more than a decade later, youth art fills the walls of the Ice House every March.  Local art teachers participate thanks to Sandra’s efforts.  Performing arts have been added.  Hundreds of parents turn out to see the show.  There can be no doubt – Sandra Earls “owns” the Youth Art Show and for that contribution MAC appreciates her.

Others:  Jane Frenke. Maggie Duval.

7.  BOB MARGGRAF …..Keith Unger tells the story
Some volunteers have special knowledge skills that are invaluable for building and running a successful organization.   As MAC has grown over the past decade or so, the demand for business and organizational skills has also increased.  Fortunately, those people with the necessary skills have stepped forward, mostly as members of the board of directors.

Bob Marggraf is one of the true skillmasters.  He has brought an immeasurable level of business knowledge to task when dealing with contractors or reasoning with architects.  He used his corporate contacts to make Art and Elegance an instant success.  He gave MAC an office when the Ice House was under renovation and dust was everywhere.

Others who have served MAC with their professional skills:
Diane Petersen – with her CPA/financial skills
Michael Dennis — with his design skills
Sally Marshall – with her facilitation and personnel skills
Ann Harkins – with her organizational development skills

Who Thanks a Volunteer?
Tomorrow MAC is celebrating its volunteers as the annual meeting program.  Planning this got me thinking: who in an organization should be thanking its volunteers?

Does it have more weight if it comes from staff?  or is it better to have the board do the thanking?

Part of the answer should be found in considering why an individual volunteered.  Probably not for staff although a good volunteer can easily free staff for other work.  We all know that every non-profit has way more work than staff to do it.  Volunteers do not give their time because of the board.  Besides, board members are volunteers themselves and in MAC they are some of the hardest working, hands-on volunteers in the organization.  The obvious conclusion is that volunteers give their time and talent because they believe in/enjoy/benefit from/want to help — the mission.

All this brings us back to the original question: who should be thanking volunteers?

Let’s make the answer easy and interactive.  Volunteers thank other volunteers because who knows better what it takes?  If you are a volunteer, search out another one and give them a biug thank you!

Creative Cone winner

Jeanne wins 1st ever creative cone at Create WV 2008

Welcome to my first attempt to blog.  It’s a learning day — learning to blog.  Not the writing part but the getting it online part.

The big excitement so far today, besides starting a blog was a drop in visit from Danny Boyd — West Virginia filmmaker and wrestler.  Danny’s looking good for someone whose son just graduated from law school.  How did these kids get to be so old when we all have stayed so young?

Asleep at the Wheel returns to its roots in Morgan County and plays to a sold-out audience at the Star Theatre — 8/24/09.  A No Name local supergroup of Joe Herrmann, Tari Hampe, Mary Hott and Jeff Chesnut opened for Asleep.

Follow Jeanne on Facebook by clicking here.

Follow The Star Theatre on Facebook by clicking here.