By Taylor Roberts
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and here at The Lincoln Center, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our incredible volunteers! We are so thankful to this dedicated crew who serve our community in so many ways through their work at The Lincoln Center.
In celebration of this month, we asked our volunteers to share stories and memories of their favorite times at The Lincoln Center. Enjoy!
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I’ve been volunteering at The LC for over 15 years. I guess that makes me an “old-timer”, but I don’t feel that way. My view is that my main job is to do my best to help patrons have an enjoyable time.
When I first started and didn’t have my own nametag, I used one of the “generic” ones that said “DOCENT”. A patron walked up to me and closely inspected my nametag and asked: “Is that a German name?” Wasn’t sure what to say without embarrassing the patron, so I think I just told them it meant volunteer.
I usually try to wear a necktie that is “show-appropriate”—I have a “symphony” tie with an orchestra/opera theme on it. For kids shows, maybe something else—for the Nutcracker I usually wear a crown and a mouse nose, and when I get that quizzical look, tell them I’m the Rat King. That usually gets a good laugh.
For one kids’ “circus” show, I wore an elephant nose—about a 4” long trunk. After the show, a mother came up to me and said her son (my guess – 4 years old) had a question. With a very sad face and quivering voice, he asked me “Do you have a nose under there?” I showed him I did.
The Performance Hall Orchestra seating numbering used to be non-consecutive skipping every other number. Occasionally, if a young couple appeared to be on a first date or something like that, I’d look at their tickets and say something like “you’re in seat 17, and she’s in seat 19 – who’s sitting between you?” It generally resulted in an amusing encounter between us.
I was a ticket-taker at a Symphony performance. A middle-aged couple approached me with their tickets. He looked into the Performance Hall, saw that it was set up for a symphony, and said “You tricked me!” to his wife. She had told him it was a play because he hated the Symphony. When they came out at intermission, I offered him earplugs. He laughed and admitted he was having a good time.
I have met all kinds of wonderful people volunteering at The Lincoln Center. So many wonderful events and the appreciation of the patrons coming back in after COVID has been fabulous! The “princesses” that came to see the Disney show a few weeks ago were priceless. I was lucky enough to be up at the stage during the break to make sure everyone was safe when one of the moms taking pictures shared with me that she was so glad they were able to be there because her daughter was on her way to her Make a Wish trip to Disney. She was just out of the hospital and the whole family was able to enjoy the show! The smiles are the best! I was also able to answer questions from the young ones who had never been to our space before and they appreciated being “in the know” about where the actors went after leaving the stage.
After the CATS production, I stood out near the wall watching the crowd disperse. A young couple was leaning against the wall and I checked in with them. They were in such a state of bliss that they weren’t ready to leave; thanked me profusely for the evening. I understood their feeling, being somewhat overwhelmed myself. I realized that one of our tasks is receiving the beautiful response of those who have deeply appreciated what was offered.
I believe I started volunteering for The Lincoln Center around ’07 or ’08 when I saw a notice online that The LC was in need of volunteers. I was so grateful to get the interview and to have been chosen as a volunteer back then, and still am to this day! When I go away, which I do travel out of state, and/or country sometimes, no matter what I am doing to enjoy my time away, I truly miss my time at The Lincoln Center. It is so enjoyable to be a part of the performance attendees’ enjoyment! Especially after all that we all have been through the past couple of years. As well as other things happening in the world that can bring one down vs. up in all of our lives. Live performances are so needed for all of us—which definitely includes me! And I am glad and grateful to be a part of that for The Lincoln Center! I truly feel an obligation with no hesitation to cater to the audiences when/as needed to make sure they have the best time with their experiences at The Lincoln Center. And, if need be, take care of any concerns they may have at times too. Thank you Lincoln Center for being there for your patrons, volunteers, staff and entertainers!
Joanne Wilson, Volunteer since September of 2011
My favorite experience while volunteering was when I was asked to go onstage during the performance of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in 2019. They are amazing dancers. The show was awesome and quite fun. It was an honor to hand the Prima Ballerina a bouquet of flowers and I was tickled to be on stage!
Martha “Chip” McMahan
While volunteering at a child-friendly holiday show in December, I found a small stuffed animal near one of the theater entrances shortly after the show started. I took it to the office and placed it in the Lost and Found. After the show, it dawned on me that the child who belonged to the fluffy toy would certainly recognize it if it were on display while leaving the theater. So I retrieved it from the office and cradled it in my hands while standing near the entrance where I first encountered it. Sure enough, a woman carrying a small 2-or-so-year-old girl, said to her, “Look, there’s your bear!”. Reuniting the child with her stuffed animal made my night!
I recently helped a lady with a cane. Her seat was in the middle of row P of Right Orchestra where the seats aren’t bolted to the floor. I asked her, ‘Would you like a shortcut?’ and pulled back her reserved chair so that she didn’t need to walk to the end of the row to get to her seat. She was amused by it and really appreciated it.