When the calendar hits August, the ArtPrize office starts to buzz with new energy and anticipation that is palpable. Deliveries become more frequent, reporters and camera crews begin to tell our stories, and the lights stay on a little later every evening. We have made a tradition of kicking off the ArtPrize season with a public invite to our Volunteer Kick Off Party, which is only a few days away!

While preparing for the party this year, we started thinking about the number of volunteers who come back year after year. It is always such an exciting and humbling experience to watch new applications trickle in, as our inbox fills with questions from eager friends who want to know how to get involved. We wonder, what keeps these awesome people interested and enthusiastic year after year? Luckily, we knew someone we could ask to enlighten our questions.

Joyce Washburn has been joyfully volunteering with ArtPrize for the past three years. In preparation for ArtPrize, Joyce is always around, supporting the ArtPrize Education program filling cinch sacks and preparing bags for Chair Camp, helping with mailings and setting up the HUB. Once ArtPrize starts she’ll be walking the streets as a Wayfinder, leading students during Education Days, and of course spending time visiting as many ArtPrize venues as she can and taking part in every ArtPrize activity made available. Do note: Joyce actually saw every ArtPrize venue last year, except for one that was closed!

Joyce has said she started volunteering for agencies that she found interesting after she retired. Before then she didn’t have much time, but retirement gave her the chance to invest in her interests. Lucky for us, ArtPrize was an event that peaked her interest. Talking with visitors and artists and working with the kids who visit ArtPrize for Education Days are her favorite things, and she looks forward to these new and interesting conversations from year to year.

After listening to Joyce talk about all the events and activities she attended last year we couldn’t help but ask why she finds ArtPrize so exciting. She replied, “the ArtPrize bug bit me. I can’t get enough of it. The energy that exists once ArtPrize starts is amazing! To be a part of that is infectious.” She also added,  “Really, what I found was a great group of people, both volunteers and staff. They are my ArtPrize family.”

Working with volunteers like Joyce who are thrilled to return to ArtPrize each year to generously give their time is what truly makes ArtPrize a one-of-a-kind experience. They help to create unforgettable moments for the 400,000 visitors that pack the streets of Grand Rapids during the 19 day event. They also foster so much good energy and positive experiences for the ArtPrize staff, who adore them. What a treat for us to get to work with such dedicated community members. We can’t wait for another year.

If you’d like to learn more about joining our ArtPrize volunteer family you can visit artprize.org/get-involved/volunteers.

Please join us for the Volunteer Kick Off Party on Thursday, August 21st from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Ledyard building in downtown Grand Rapids. This is an open house event that is open to the community, so drop by to learn more about volunteering with ArtPrize and meet a few of our great volunteers like Joyce!

Photo: 2013 Volunteer Kickoff Party. Copyright © 2014 ArtPrize, All rights reserved. Photo credit: Brian Kelly.

Written by: Ashlee Lambart, Community Engagement Assistant

By Amelea Pegman on