MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: The Art & Joy of Volunteering

Whenever I served as a volunteer coordinator for BOA (Bands of America) marching band competitions at Rousch Stadium, Kettering Fairmont High School’s marching band invitationals, as well as the school’s winter guard and indoor percussion competitions at Trent Arena, or MEPA’s (Mid-Eastern Performance Association) winter guard and indoor percussion contests at Nutter Center, I always had this sign by the sign-in table:

“The Titanic was built by professionals, while The Ark was built by Volunteers.” (This quote is attributed to First Lady Barbara Bush)

I’ve volunteered for various events throughout my career and understand the need for volunteers, as well as the passion so many volunteers exude.

What is a Volunteer?

Volunteering is an act by an individual or group freely giving time and labor for community or other services. Many volunteers are specifically trained in areas they work in, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on various boards of directors, athletics, church, scouts, nursing homes, community or social needs, and parent volunteers, and the list continues. The field of volunteering is a vast smorgasbord of opportunities. During her husband’s administration, Patricia Nixon promoted “volunteerism” and established many programs to foster the art and gift of being a volunteer.

There are many reasons I love working at Carillon Historical Park, but one of the major draws is getting to know and work with some wonderful volunteers. They’re an outstanding collection of individuals who are fun, interesting, energetic, and just all-around fantastic folks. There are several who’ve become bonus moms and dads, or bonus uncles and aunts. I love not only what they bring to the park itself, but what they also bring to my life.

Each time there is a free moment, which is seldom, I will ask them questions about where they are from, where they grew up, their families, their careers (since the majority are retired), their interests and hobbies, and their life experiences. Regardless of their vast array of experiences, their stories are often unique and of such great interest to me.

The Carillon Historical Park Volunteers are wonderful in how they share the story of Dayton’s rich history as they each add their own little impression, some of which are the result of them having worked for NCR, McCalls, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Frigidaire, Standard Register, Ohmer Cash Register, Delco (Dayton Electronics Company), Esther Price, and this list continues. A good number of our volunteers have also served in education, the military, and owned private businesses. We also have Volunteers who knew Orville Wright, Ermal Fraze, Edward Deeds, and my newest Volunteer friend, Chuck Johnson, who worked with the legendary inventor, Charles Kettering.

In short, I have a front-row seat to much of Dayton’s history during the latter half of The Twentieth Century, plus the history the Volunteers share of their parents and grandparents who also contributed to the success of Dayton’s rich manufacturing story, the wonderful era of visionaries and innovation, and our community’s culture.

It’s no wonder that Dayton still holds the record for claiming more US Patents per capita than any other city.

From day to day, or shift to shift, I never always know which Volunteers will be at the park. Several have only certain days they work while others bounce about as needed. On top of this, they’re trained to work in various areas throughout the park. One volunteer might work in The Heritage Center on Monday morning, the Transportation Center on Wednesday afternoon, and The Wright Brothers’ National Museum on Friday afternoon. This means our park’s Volunteers are trained and prepared with the history and knowledge of numerous areas throughout. Not only is that a gift, but it is also their gift to each of us who come in contact with them as Guests or staff.

In order to build this company of Volunteers at Carillon Historical Park, it requires the steadfast determination, tireless effort, and talented abilities of the Volunteer Coordinator, Kay Locher, a fellow Hoosier and lover of music and musical theatre. Having served as a volunteer coordinator, mostly for music parent-related organizations and generally for seasonal events, I can appreciate the service and ongoing duties Kay brings to this position as the park’s coordinator.

Volunteering is not just about offering your time and talents to organizations. There are many ways a person can volunteer, serve, and make a difference. I raised my sons to embrace the spirit of being of service to others no matter the offering. One of my favorite unique volunteer-led efforts was during the pandemic’s quarantine when my neighbor, and mother of several private piano students, Jennifer Stamper, invited neighboring school-aged children and their families to share in reciting The Pledge of Allegiance each morning in the middle of Lewiston Road, here in Kettering, before online school began. The pandemic did yield many wonderfully designed volunteer opportunities by Jennifer and so many other loving and giving individuals like her.

If we each stop for a moment to consider our own talents and gifts, I am betting we could each reach out in a number of unique ways to be of service to others. My neighbor lady, Mama Kay, is the master at being of service to others, whether it’s her service with the choir, sacristy, or delivering weekly bulletins for St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, plus driving friends to appointments, staying overnight with friends released from the hospital, or being my bonus-mom. She, too, is an example of how we can each be of service to others through various offerings.

I am grateful to all the volunteers with whom I’ve come in contact or with whom I have worked. Through volunteering efforts or leadership, I’ve gained some wonderful friends, especially through the Kettering Fairmont High School music programs. I even work with a fellow band parent at the park!

If you are interested in volunteering, I encourage you to seriously consider sharing your time and talents with Carillon Historical Park by contacting our coordinator, Kay Locher, at (937) 293-2841 ext. 102 or email: klocher@daytonhistory.org.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to be retired to be a volunteer. Parents can be great models for their younger and older children by finding something to which they can volunteer a few hours a month or week. Teenagers are also another valuable age group to be of service to others to explore their passions and interests.

Don’t just make it a great day for yourself; examine your gifts and passions to help make it a great day for others.

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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