The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 26, 2012

Volunteers are backbone of arts center


— Volunteers are what allow the Community Arts Center of Cambria County to live and breathe.

Volunteers answer phones, process new and renewed memberships and help move exhibits in and out.

Volunteers also help with the arts center’s fundraisers, sorting donated books for the sales and items for the auction, processing sales and manning the booths for the Log House Festival.

Rose Mary Hagadus, the center’s executive director, said there are 225 volunteers who lend their talents to the arts center throughout the year.

Most come for half days, some come for a full day. The oldest is 88. The youngest are the teens who help at the Log House Festival.

Some volunteers have been there 25 years, others only a few.

Sue Saylor of Upper Yoder Township has worked a full-day Tuesday shift on the desk at the arts center for two years.

When she retired from secretarial work at Somerset Hospital, Saylor found she needed something useful to do.

“I came to the Holly Bazaar, thought it was neat and knew I’d like to help out,” Saylor said.

“I figured I’d come up and do whatever. I also volunteer on Wednesdays at Arbutus.”

Working at the arts center is clearly something Saylor enjoys.

“I get to meet people, and I love the kids’ classes,” Saylor said.

“They’re a lot of fun. I enjoy being a volunteer and would recommend it.”

From 1968 to 1983, the arts center was a totally volunteer organization.

Now, in addition to Hagadus, paid positions include education coordinator, teachers for the many classes the arts center offers and part-time bookkeeper and maintenance.

“Volunteers are essential to cover the desk,” Hagadus said.

“We get calls for information, to get artwork appraised. We do a lot of resource work. We get a lot of new people in town who come in and want to get involved volunteering.”

Board president Gregory Winger of Richland Township understands the vital role that volunteers play in sustaining the arts center.

“Volunteers are invaluable because they compliment the jobs that staff needs help with,” he said.

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