Drum Corps International
2015 DCI Volunteers of the Year
DCI Volunteers of the YearPhoto by: Drum Corps International

2015 DCI Volunteers of the Year

by Casey Smith

During every off-season and summer tour, drum corps volunteers devote countless hours to the organizations they love. Working behind the scenes, these committed individuals put their lives on hold to offer anything and everything these exceptional marching music ensembles might need.
 
After a selection process by a panel of Friends of DCI members, the following individuals will be honored this August at the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis as the 2015 Volunteers of the Year.

Congratulations to these and countless others who volunteer their time to help the corps get down the road each and every summer!



René Veillette | Les Stentors

René Veillette has been a multitalented volunteer since his children joined the French Canadian Open Class corps Les Stentors in 2001. As the official equipment truck driver and treasured chef while on tour, Veillette is a significant asset to the organization.

According to Les Stentors Director Josianne Alarie, trucks are always in the right place at the right time, and members of the corps are always asking for Veillette’s dinner specialties: mashed potatoes and Sloppy Joes.
 
Appearing reserved at first, Veillette quickly grew into an energetic and dependable volunteer. From grocery shopping to instrument repairs, he is always willing to do anything that is asked of him with a smile. Veillette, known to be “one of the funniest men in the world,” has a humorous side that brings joy and laughter to the Les Stentors organization.
 
“We have so many laughs with him, you just can’t imagine!” Alarie wrote in Veillette’s nomination letter.
 
Although his daughter is no longer a member of Les Stentors, Veillette continues to use his vacation time from work to share his love for the corps through his volunteering.
 
“He likes the organization, and we love him back!” Alarie says. “Not having René on tour with us would make us incomplete.”


John Chow | Mandarins

For the last 26 years—more than half of the corps’ 52-year history—John Chow has volunteered thousands of hours in nearly every way possible with the Mandarins.

Chow’s versatile dedication is seen through a multitude of activities and projects for the organization, and according to Mandarins Executive Director Jim Tabuchi, he is “a man who has given in every way possible and has asked for nothing in return.”
 
Beginning his service driving equipment vehicles during the corps’ summer season, Chow soon became the head chef on tour, having cooked his legendary meatloaf and stir-fry for more than two decades. His work has also benefited the Mandarins through contributions that include rebuilding equipment trucks with new cabinets and racks, managing financial books, cooking at concessions booths and successfully managing Bingo games.

“He is the type of volunteer who has an unending spirit of service,” Tabuchi wrote in Chow’s nomination letter. “It’s rare to see a volunteer as dedicated as John has been to our drum corps.”
 
Throughout his years of service, Chow has been recognized for his endless commitment and positive attitude. According to DCI Hall of Fame member Ray Mar, “John has been the perfect volunteer. He can do anything and readily does so.”


Mike Ottoes | Troopers

During a time of declining membership and financial instability, Mike Ottoes had the responsibility of stabilizing the Troopers, even when the organization’s existence was on the line. As a husband and father of two, operating a family business and reviving a corps has not been a simple task.
 
Ottoes was a soprano horn player with the Troopers from 1988 until he aged-out in 1992. He was later given the title of Executive Director of the corps in 1996. Without sufficient funding or outside support, Ottoes worked tirelessly: driving buses and trucks, changing tires, donating trailers, flipping pancakes, encouraging members and counseling their parents. According to Alaina Stedillie, President of the Troopers Board of Directors, “the Troopers are alive today because of Mike Ottoes.”
 
In 2006, Ottoes led the Troopers through an inactive rebuilding year and a “rebirth” in 2008. Although quiet in his leadership, Ottoes has exemplified the extreme levels of commitment and inspiration it takes to keep a corps afloat.
 
“Mike rebuilt the corps, on the field and off,” Stedillie wrote. “With a cool head, a savvy business sense and passion that comes from a talented and inspired alumnus, Mike has brought financial soundness, credibility and strength of purpose to the Troopers.”
 
Ottoes’s hard work and sacrifice is greatly appreciated and admired by the Troopers, and his service does not go without recognition.
 
“Mike has made a profound difference at the most fundamental level of the activity,” Stedillie said. “All day and everyday, Mike has made a difference to the members of the corps, its alumni and friends by organizing, inspiring and leading by quiet example.”

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