Archive 2008 - 2019

Volunteer of the Month - Genie Ware

by Aidan Krantz

What made you want to get involved in volunteering?
I think volunteering is in my blood-lines! I grew up in a small town on the North Shore of Massachusetts in a very community-minded family. My parents were involved in town politics and various local organizations. My mother, a social worker by profession, did multiple terms as the President of the PTA and the Women’s Club. Similarly, she was the President of the North Shore Wellesley Alumnae Club and volunteered in various capacities at her college reunions. My father, a mechanical engineer, started the town’s first recycling program back in the 1960’s and he even invented a simple machine to crush cans. His program became part of high school volunteering back before HS volunteering was a phenomenon. He also served on various town committees, including being Chair of the Planning Board. My sister and I grew up in fortunate circumstances and it was simply the expectation that we find ways to use our skills to give back and contribute in positive ways to the community around us. We had good role models!

What have you done in the past as volunteer work?
I have not been as involved in town politics and organizations as were my parents.

However, when my children were school aged, I was the co-president of the Holliston Montessori Parents Group, and also spent time in the classrooms assisting teachers as needed. And, I became involved with the Holliston Food Pantry. When my son was in HS and played in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony (now the Boston Youth Symphony), I was the Co-President of the parents group that raised funds in a variety of ways for the orchestra. However, most of the volunteering I have done in the past continues to this day. (See below.)

What do you currently do as volunteer work?
I volunteer in basically three categories: town, college, and music.

I started volunteering with the Holliston Food Pantry 17 or 18 years ago when my children were in elementary school and continue to this day on the Tuesday 12-2 pm Food Pantry shift team. I work about twice a month. In my view, it is a community responsibility to help our members. Any one of us could find ourselves in the situation in which finances are so tight we need the assistance. Thank you to the founders of the Food Pantry for having this vision and compassion.

Like my mother, I’ve remained active as an alumna of my college. I spent multiple years on a board there, Friends of Wellesley College Athletics, with the mission of supporting varsity and recreational athletic programs. As a college athlete myself, I received benefits from these programs and wanted to help current athletes have the same experience. Over the years, I have volunteered on reunions committees and am about to become a class officer for my 50th (gulp) college reunion in 2024.

Similar to the longevity of my involvement with my college, I have volunteered in a variety of capacities with Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, a formerly Cambridge-based and now Newton- based professional orchestra. Our players are highly accomplished, free-lance musicians that perform in all of the major music groups in the Boston and New England area. My husband and I had our first date at a Pro Arte concert 33 years ago. We started volunteering soon after our marriage, so we have been supporters/helpers for about 30 years. This is the volunteering that takes up most of my time. I am currently the Board Chair. In a small, cooperatively-structured orchestra like Pro Arte, this means wearing multiple hats. I run meetings and receptions, write grants, find new board candidates, find extra chairs for rehearsals, arrange house concerts, edit marketing materials, raise funds, and act as an ambassador for the orchestra. In the current financial climate in our country, where foundations and government have fewer funds to distribute, we are dependent upon individual donations to keep us going. It takes a village to keep small, non-profit arts groups like Pro Arte growing and thriving. So, I am a villager.

What is your favorite part of volunteering?
First, it feels right that I am being a responsible citizen, like my parents raised me to be. And, second, I enjoy making connections with others, many of whom are like-minded. (But, if they are not like-minded, I learn from this, too!) I have made many lasting friendships and networks through these activities.

What have you gotten out of volunteering?
Volunteering is a two-way street. Part of volunteering may be altruistic---I feel good when I think I am giving back by helping a person or group of people. But, it sounds corny, I get benefits, too-- like making new friends, learning from others, stretching your brain to deal with new challenges, feeling a sense of accomplishment. When a client at the Food Pantry thanks us, it feels good. When I hear “my” orchestra end a concert to wild applause, it feels good. We may be “givers” but we are “getters,” too. 

Comments (1)

Congratulations Genie

Mark Ahronian | 2018-12-03 06:54:03