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Retrospective 2022: Community Service

Community work isn’t something I’ve written about since I’ve been doing retrospectives. Dut my activity is picking up so I thought I’d devote a post to it. I have been on the board of Symphony San Jose for a couple of years, but as a founder-run organization, the board’s duties were minimal. Andrew Bales, the founder, had singled-handedly raised a new symphony out of the ashes of the one that went bankrupt. Now, after 20 years of success, he decided to retire. I wanted to be part of the transition to the next iteration of the symphony, so I volunteered to be on the search committee for a new director.

The work was interesting. Through it, I learned many more details about symphony operation and finances, got to know several orchestra members (who were also on the search committee), read a ton of resumes and supporting materials, interviewed many interesting, talented arts administrators, and finally helped recommend someone for the position. That person is Robert Massey. It is not easy to follow a founder, but Robert is up to the challenge. It will be exciting to see how he shapes the symphony. (Get your tickets to see Coco with live symphonic music!)

The Los Gatos-Saratoga Camera Club is a member-run, volunteer organization. After having been a member for a few years, I decided it was time to step up and help out. This year, I was VP of Education, which is just a fancy term for the person who organizes workshops for members. My goal was to organize six workshops. We actually had seven workshops because two members decided to organize a “pop-up” workshop on working with models. (I love self starters!) My job was to find volunteers to teach the workshops, advertise them to members, monitor sign-ups, and make sure the instructors had what they needed. I participated in several of the workshops, listened in on others, and enjoyed the position so much that I volunteered to continue in this post for the next year.

For several years I’ve been interested in Rotary. One day, while sitting in the dentist chair, able only to listen due to the hand in my mouth, my dentist, who was President of Saratoga Rotary, described the Rotaplast Project to me. She and other medical professionals would travel to other countries to perform cleft palate surgery for kids. They did this as part of Rotary. Then I found out about all the other community service they do—both locally and internationally. More recently, I learned that most of the men on the symphony board are members of San Jose Rotary. One of them offered to sponsor me as a member. I joined in October.

Rotary requires a commitment of time and money. Rotarians must serve on at least two committees and must pay dues that are mostly used to fund local and global community projects. I raised my hand to help with Rotaplast when it kicks off next year and I joined the Climate Action committee. Although holiday time means a lull for these projects, I was enlisted to help wrap thousands of toys for children in the Bay Area. I loved being an elf!

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