April is drum corps volunteer month on DCI.org. If you'd like to "nominate" a fabulous drum corps volunteer, send a writeup and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kevin Smith, director of Carolina Crown submitted this nomination, and the writeup came from an earlier post on the Carolina Crown Web site. Volunteer: Teri Bell
Corps: Carolina Crown
Corps: Carolina Crown
Teri Bell began her Carolina Crown experience in 1997 when her oldest son, Larry Summerlin, marched with the corps. Since Larry had never been away from his mother for the entire summer, Teri jumped in and did her week of tour after traveling in a van for 16 hours to meet the corps in Wisconsin. At that time in her life she still put her makeup on first thing every morning and curlers in her hair at night. Anyone who has ever been on tour knows how difficult it is to keep that type of routine going. Since her other two children fell in love with Crown while watching their brother march in Finals at Orlando that year, she started driving Jeremiah and Loraine Womble to the monthly camps that next winter. The day before Crown was to pull out on tour in 1998, Loraine decided to disappear from the corps' housing site and ended up spending the night on a near-by park bench. The only way that she was going to be allowed to go on tour after that stunt was if her mother went along all summer as well. Teri's boss consented to her going that summer, and the year after that Crown had a new food truck cook. The funny thing about Teri now being in charge of cooking for over 150 people four times a day all summer long was that she didn't really cook much at home as her husband did most of it. Loraine says of her mother, "My mom was always a volunteer for the band when I was growing up. Even though she had no idea that she would volunteer to work this hard in corps, it was like it was almost expected to some level (she basically ran the band booster concession stand for years). Having my mother on tour as a volunteer or as food truck mom was the best thing that ever happened to our relationship. We were close before, but when it was all said and done four years later we were like best friends. My mother was always the working mother and tried her hardest to be a part of everyone's activities. By being in the food truck almost all summer, she supported not only me but many others. "Having my mom there she could finally see what was going on in the life of a marcher. The sleeping on floors, showering in locker rooms, and the happiness somehow found in the pure exhaustion we experienced together. Not to mention for the first time we traveled places we had never been, and both made friends that are not to be forgotten anytime soon. "She took care of all of the corps members as if they were hers. She used to joke with us that she played mama to everyone but her own children! Not every day was a wonderful day in her life because she went through the chaos that sometimes happens in corps life, and on those days we as corps members helped her out. In the end it meant a lot to me because we were able to spend more time together, and in a sense grow up together." During the years of Teri's tenure as the head of the food truck, a lot has changed. The truck now has a walk-in refrigerator, a convection oven, gas water heater and many other improvements that Teri was a part of making happen. The quality and quantity of the food for the members and faculty was ever-improving, with the utmost care and love put into it. The volunteers also benefited from Teri's efforts. The support staff experienced a lot more comfort and "extras" than they had in the past years, but what they don't know is that the "extras" a lot of the time came out of her own pocket. Teri has put a lot of time, energy and heart into her Crown family and beloved food truck. She always had a difficult time overcoming the sense of loss at the end of each summer when it was time to leave her kids. Teri has a commitment to the corps that has lasted beyond her own kids involvement. Says Loraine, "When we got home in August the whole family could sit around the table and talk about drum corps, and we all knew what it was like to be there. The last two summers I didn't march, and my brother's time to march was long forgotten, but my mother still went to the camps and worked in the food truck. I told her 'you don't have to go anymore', and she simply told me, 'I have to go, this is who I am'." Even though this year Teri will no longer head the food program, she remains active in Crown as a member of board of directors and plans to tour at least two weeks this summer during her vacation as an assistant to executive director Kevin Smith and lead representative of the board when Kevin is off tour. Carolina Crown board treasurer DeAnn Ellisor said, "For the past four years, Teri has been the 'food lady.' Not only does she appear and provide miraculous meals at every camp, she takes a leave of absence from her job for 10 weeks and does the same for the entire summer tour. She spends many hours just recruiting volunteer cooks and 'helpers' for tour. She has made the Carolina Crown food operation painless, and one of the very best in DCI. She does all of this out of love and caring because she is paid not one penny! This is a real volunteer!" Teri is a tremendous volunteer that has positively touched the lives of hundreds of our members. Thank you for all you do!