From the moment you walk into the Orlando Family Stage, you are greeted by warm smiles and friendly faces from the many volunteers who dedicate their evenings to ensuring that every guest experiences the finest in family theatre. Without the dedicated team of volunteers who invest their time at Orlando REP, being able to produce the high-quality environment that we strive for would not be possible.This incredible group of individuals work patiently and diligently throughout the theatre each show night scanning tickets, handing out show programs, working concessions, and ultimately facilitating each patron’s journey to memories that will last a lifetime. 

In honor of the volunteers who dedicate so much of their time to Orlando REP, each year a special luncheon is provided to show every volunteer how much their work is appreciated throughout the season. The volunteers’ passion for theatre and bringing joy to so many individuals who enter the theatre shines in all of the work they do. Benjamin Fortin, Orlando REP’s Front of House Manager, knows just how special the theatre’s volunteers are. 

“Having worked with other volunteers in other organizations, I can say that Orlando Family Stage volunteers have been among my favorite to work with because they are so generous with their time,” Benjamin says. “They truly strive to understand each assigned position, and work hard to provide a great experience for our patrons.”

The luncheon, led by Benjamin and Orlando Family Stage staff, offered volunteers the chance to learn more about the impact they make, what benefits they can take away from their time in the theatre, hear from guest speakers, and get excited for a very sweet 16th season coming up. The afternoon was then capped off with a special Text-2-Play scavenger hunt that allowed the volunteers the chance to fully explore the theatre, learn new and interesting facts about the Edyth Bush and Universal Theatres, and cruise down memory lane of past Orlando Family Stage seasons.

A special recognition was also given to the top five volunteers who have accumulated the most shifts in the past season. Orlando REP’s top five volunteers for the 2017–2018 Season were:

  1. Susie Findell
  2. Starr Elisala Le Blanc
  3. Maxine Derington
  4. Ian Gottschalk
  5. Jillian Sorondo

Susie Findell, former Orlando Family Stage board member and now the first Volunteer Ambassador, topped the list this season with nearly 90 hours of volunteer time devoted to the theatre (and that’s not including time spent volunteering for field trip days!).

Susie Findell speaks with Maxine Derington during the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, Aug. 11.

“I always told my employees before I retired to volunteer where your passion is, and since theatre is my passion, I volunteer here…I love exposing children to the theatre, often for the first time,” Susie said. “It means something, and not just to me.”

The impact that a volunteer can have on someone visiting Orlando REP, whether it’s their first time in the theatre or their hundredth, can be profound. They are the faces that are first recognized during someone’s trip to the theatre, and they are often the foundation of so many relationships built between Orlando Family Stage and our patrons. Executive Director Gene Columbus reminded the volunteers of their lasting impact with so many children, parents, and theatergoers who “visit our happy place.”

“Our volunteers are so important, and the interaction you have with everyone is so impactful,” Gene told the volunteers during this season’s luncheon. “To a child coming to this place, sometimes for their very first time, it is our chance to set them on a journey of love and being part of this wonderful life of arts and theatre.”

Board Member Sheila Levi-Aland echoed his sentiment during her speech to the volunteers. 

“You are the heart of this, you create all of those memories and moments that matter,” Sheila said to the volunteers during the special luncheon. “Thank you is not enough, because without you we would not be a theatre.” 

To all of our volunteers who have helped make shows at Orlando Family Stage possible–thank you! 

Want to earn help create moments that matter? Learn more about becoming a volunteer at Orlando Family Stage here

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