April 23-29 marks National Volunteer Week. DCI.org takes a look this week at just a few of the many personalities that spend their time volunteering with drum corps. Contact any of the many drum corps out there to find out how you can become a volunteer. Name, hometown: Rhoda Fortier, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada Which corps do you volunteer with, how did you get started and how long have you been at it? I work with the Blue Saints of Sudbury, Canada. I started with the corps when my son joined. He left five years later, and I was still there another five years later, making this my 10th year. What kind of work do you do with the corps? I have served on the executive as secretary, vice-president and president. I now help with uniforms, shopping for and preparation of meals. What is your favorite part of being a volunteer? The best part of volunteering is working with the kids and hearing how much they improve from the beginning of the season to the end. I also greatly enjoy the traveling, except for the 10-hour bus rides. What is the most difficult part of being a volunteer? The most difficult part of my volunteering is that no other family members are involved, so I have to juggle my home time with corps time. Another really hard part to deal with is the lack of other volunteers. We seem to have a core of three to five people to do everything, so you feel like you're spread pretty thin sometimes. As a result of this, unfortunately, it's the members who suffer the most. When you're running on three hours of sleep it's pretty difficult to look on the bright side when everyone is clamoring for something or other! Do you have any favorite memories or anecdotes from your years as a volunteer? My favorite times are probably the time we spend talking with each other and with support staff from other corps. My favorite memory is probably from the summer of 2003. Another support staff member and I were running on very little sleep. We were traveling between locations, and she and I started to get the giggles. We started singing--badly of course--and our bus driver was so young that she didn't know any of the songs. We would see a road sign, and sing a song with one of the words or names in it. We just couldn't stop laughing. Sleep would have been very welcome then. What are you most looking forward to during the 2006 season? I can't wait to see how our show turns out. It's going to be very entertaining. What advice do you have for those who would like to get involved as a volunteer with a corps? My biggest piece of advice is the same I would give to a new parent: Sleep or rest whenever you get a chance! Most corps have more help than ours, but it is still a long and exhausting experience. You also have to have a really good sense of humor, because you just know that if something can go wrong, it will. The best thing you can do is laugh it off and carry on. Just try to enjoy yourself, and remember that you are there for the kids, whether they are 12 or 21, they are still kids.
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