As I recall, it was sometime in 1999 when the executive director for Darke County Center for the Arts called to ask if I would be interested in editing the DCCA newsletter, the DCCAgram.
I had retired from my day job and was looking for some volunteer work in the community. I thought this might suit me. I called my friend, Carole, and asked if she wanted to join me in this endeavor. She accepted and that was the beginning of DCCA and me.
It seemed simple enough. Twice a year we just had to gather information and photos of interest to the DCCA membership, arrange it on four pages and get it to the printer. We usually started at least one month ahead of time and moved along at our own pace.
We’re not sure why our husbands refer to the week before we present our efforts to the printer as “hell week.” We rather enjoy the rush to the deadline.
As we began to form our first newsletter, the executive director said, “You’ll be at the trustee meeting this Thursday?” My reply was , “Who? Me?” But, after I thought about it I realized that the newsletter editors probably should be at those meetings, and so we were, and still are.
The next “who me” moment came right before a performance when someone said, “I need help to set up the refreshments for intermission. Would you?” Thus I was introduced to the recipe for the famous DCCA punch. You run to the kitchen area of the evenings venue right before intermission, open and pour cans and half cans of all-purpose fruit punch and fruit juice into the punch bowl (and sometimes on your best outfit),
Then add uncola and ice and serve with assorted cookies or whatever.
Sound like work? Well, it is, but there are bonuses. If you spill the punch on yourself, you get to smell it during the second part of the performance. Of course, if you work refreshments at the performance when we serve hot coffee and chocolates, the aroma permeates your very being and stays with you through the rest of the performance every time you breathe.
One of my personal favorite bonuses is that as editors of the DCCAgram, we are permitted to be at the Hall when a show unloads and sets up for a performance., as long as we stay out of the way. We surely do meet interesting people then, and some of the neatest ones are our own stage crew.
Then, too, we get to chat with Mary Frances Shultz who has been with DCCA since the very early days. Stories? She has thousands of them about the early days right up to the present that involve celebrity performers, as well as local folk. We can retell the stories to DCCA members in their DCCAgram under the column title “Behind the Curtain with Mary Frances.”
I remember another “who me” when someone said, “Would you have time to escort the performers for an Arts in Education show to some of the schools? I did, and it was really enlightening. I watched the students at various levels as they became absorbed in and enjoyed the performing arts in action.
One committee I volunteered to join provides ushers for DCCA performances. I liked taking tickets and talking to people and helping them find seats better than sitting and waiting patiently for the show to begin. Time passed, and finally I was promoted to head usher. Now that may not mean much to you, but I was happy about it.
When I was in high school, 10 senior girls were chosen each year to serve as ushers for all performances at Memorial Hall. I served as a downstairs usher my senior year. Now, after 50 years I finally got promoted, thanks to DCCA Besides, for the last few years I have had the privilege of working with music department students from Greenville High School who have been serving as ushers for DCCA.
In my book, DCCA is a great experience, whether you just attend and enjoy the shows or become more involved as a volunteer or a trustee. Darke Ccuunty Center for the Arts Y is a great place to be!
Author’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Oct. 5, 2005.