Point of View

Adrienne Arsht Center Volunteer Community Embraces Call to Service
October 16, 2009, 2:11 am
Filed under: Volunteerism

In response to President Barack Obama’s United We Serve national volunteer initiative, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, in partnership with V Initiative and the Office of Miami-Dade County Mayor, the Honorable Carlos Alvarez, Center On Nonprofit Effectiveness (C-One), and HandsOnMiami, opened its doors to the community for a free volunteer festival on Friday, September 11, 2009.


President and CEO, M. John Richard; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

President and CEO, M. John Richard; Photo by Mitchell Zachs


The Center’s first ever United We Serve Volunteer Miami Day served as both a day of remembrance and a national day of service. It featured free seminars covering topics in energy conservation, personal and career advancement, and community involvement; live musical performances; a preview of the Arsht Center’s 2009-2010 season, and lectures from representatives from some of Miami’s leading non-profit organizations and business who spoke on topics ranging from how “going green” can impact individuals’ lifestyles and businesses, to how people can market their skills in a tough economy.

The Adrienne Arsht Center embraced the call to service motivated by President Obama, and forged alliances with twenty-two organizations, each with a mission to serve Miami’s populace with the most need. With just under 300 attendees, volunteers and volunteer leaders from AARP, Alliance for the Aging, American Red Cross, Zoological Society, Habitat for Humanity, Miami Council for International Visitors, Miami River Commission, Miami Veterans Center and Switchboard Miami, among many other participating agencies, each had an opportunity to speak regarding their operations, how they serve the community and how volunteers are an extension of the fine work that they do.


Volunteers (L-R) Francisco Lopez, Suyen Morales, Irving Kreisberg and Jorge L. Jaehnig; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Volunteers (L-R) Francisco Lopez, Suyen Morales, Irving Kreisberg and Jorge L. Jaehnig; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

From the agencies who have reported the number of prospective volunteers who expressed an interest in their agency and followed through, the recruitment efforts yielded between ten and forty new volunteers for these individual agencies.

Two of the most exciting aspects Miami’s national day of service offered were a service project organized by the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office. The project involves 20 students from Doral Academy Charter Middle and High Schools, Mater Academy Charter Middle and High Schools, and Mater Academy East Charter Middle and High Schools, who kicked off a campaign to collect care items to send to US troops abroad. The students also included motivational thank-you letters for soldiers which were prepared by students from Mater Academy of International Studies.

To keep the momentum going and leveraging resources, a majority of these participating agencies and new partners, including Miami International Airport, Miami Art Museum and WLRN, have already committed to participate in the 2010 United We Serve Volunteer Miami Day. In addition, these new partners are eager to create and support a consortium of volunteer managers and directors through its own D.O.V.I.A. (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) Chapter in Miami. Through the D.O.V.I.A. Miami Chapter, we will have a stronger network of volunteer leaders with the knowledge and expertise they need to truly manage their volunteers.

“It really impresses me to see the number of new volunteers who are referred by the Center’s active volunteer members or who inquire about volunteer opportunities after attending a performance or event and speaking with one of our volunteers” says Volunteer Services Manager Evelyn Gigiras.

“The Arsht Center’s volunteer corps has grown tremendously since its inaugural season in 2006, with 500 active volunteers as it opens its fourth season, and an on-going recruitment campaign that reaches out to the entire community.”

The Center offers volunteer opportunities ranging from ushers, tour guides, event volunteers, researchers, data entry, festival volunteers, as well as professionals who offer their services of photography, translations and graphic design, all on a volunteer basis.

New volunteers interested in joining the Arsht Center’s army of good-doers begin with an orientation where volunteer opportunities and wonderful benefits are outlined. The opportunities are discussed in detail so that expectations are defined for the volunteer at the on-set.

“We have a commitment to creating an open dialogue; one where expectations are clearly defined, both from the volunteer’s perspective as well as the Center’s,” said Gigiras. Training, guidance and support are key to fortifying these new relationships. Adrienne Arsht Center staff works very closely with all of its volunteers on projects and at performances. “We clearly have a responsibility to support the volunteer’s work, as much as they support ours. It’s a cohesive relationship, as most good partnerships need to be.”

Please contact volunteers@arshtcenter.org for specific orientation dates.

Check out the Behind the Scenes of this extraordinary September 11th event.


1 Comment so far
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What a great event! It is inspirational to see that the wonderful community-based work you did in New Jersey – is continuing in your new home. As one who will never forget 9/11/01, I appreciate the efforts highlighted by the good folks in Miami. Congratulations.

Comment by Toni Hendrix

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