Aisles of Smiles

Take a look at the uniformly dressed people holding programs outside the venues in the Carlsen Center, and it might be easy to mistakenly call them “ushers.” 

Helping ticket-holders to their seats is only one of the jobs of the 200 or so Vol*Stars who volunteer their time and talents for events at JCCC. In addition to the smiles and programs they provide patrons, Vol*Stars also assist with mailings, repair the facilities, learn emergency procedures and even mend the red velvet curtains. 

Christina Wright, event manager, performance venues, said Vol*Stars are an important asset to the Carlsen Center and its yearlong program of events. 

“It’s not just the Performing Arts Series, either,” she said. “They are there for nearly every event in Carlsen Center, from JCCC staff meetings to Police Academy graduations to whatever else might be on the calendar.” 

In 2011, Vol*Stars supplied more than 12,000 hours of volunteer labor – a value of $264,000 based on the IRS valuation of a volunteer of $22 an hour. 

But to Wright, the value of Vol*Stars isn’t so easily monetized. 

“I’d prefer to work with volunteers because they’re ecstatic to be there,” she said. “They believe in the mission of what we’re doing.” 

That mission brought Bob Martinez to volunteer for Vol*Stars. He already volunteered for the Kansas City Starlight Theatre, and after attending a Performing Arts Series show in the Carlsen Center, he asked how he could volunteer. 

“I have loved theater, always have, and anything I can do to help with theater in Kansas City, I will do,” he said. “And the people that you meet are simply incredible.” 

Daryl Roller and his wife, Christy, have been Vol*Stars for the past two years. Daryl retired from Ft. Scott Community College and moved to Johnson County in order to be closer to their children and grandchildren. 

Unfortunately, they left behind their long-time friends. So when Emily Behrmann, general manager, performing arts, suggested Daryl sign up for Vol*Stars, he did so. It was a way for him to plug back into campus life. 

“I just love helping people,” Daryl said. “And the people that I’ve met, the other Vol*Stars, most of them have been very active in their working lives, they retire, and then boom! Nothing. They’re looking for something to do to help out.” 

He said he’s made quite a few friends from Vol*Stars. Six months after he began, he talked Christy into volunteering as well. 

“It didn’t take much convincing,” he said. “We both have been quick to help others… and we enjoy Johnson County Community College.” 

Vol*Stars must be 18 years old or older, complete a short training program and be approved by the JCCC board of trustees. If you’re interested in becoming a Vol*Star, contact Wright at 913-469-8500 ext. 3674 or cwrigh48@jccc.edu. The next scheduled new volunteer training is Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013.