April is National Volunteer Month, and like many non-profits, The Lehigh Valley Arts Council could not do all that it does without our dedicated volunteers. We value all of our volunteers and have a profile of two long-time volunteers, who we hope will inspire you to volunteer in 2021.
Kelly and Mike Guttman have been volunteering with the Arts Council for over 15 years. Kelly started volunteering when she was between jobs, as a way to stay active and make connections while helping a nonprofit enrich the community. Mike later joined the effort, after hearing about how much the help was needed and appreciated, and how it created a feeling of positivity and good will. They primarily help during events and with newsletter distribution. Kelly has also on been the membership committee, written profile articles, and helped with mailings. Kelly says they keep coming back because, “The arts are an important influence in the community and it’s inspiring to see the enthusiasm and growth of the various arts disciplines. The Lehigh Valley Arts Council provides a common ground for artists from many genres. Knowing that we have even the slightest hand in helping the arts community to grow, is very rewarding. We also feel like a part of the Arts Council family and value our relationships with staff and members.
Kelly grew up not far from the Lehigh Valley and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and MBA from Penn State and Lehigh Universities. She currently works in the Institutional Advancement Department at Northampton Community College. Mike grew up in Northampton and received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from DeSales University. He has been employed at Lutron Electronics for his entire career, and it is where he met Kelly, while she was doing an internship. They have been happily married for 21 years and currently reside in Carbon County.
Why do Kelly and Mike volunteer? “Volunteering is a way to give back and help nonprofit organizations reach their goals and grow. We also enjoy meeting and talking with people we may not encounter otherwise.” Kelly believes that volunteering is important because it enables organizations coordinate events and allows you to give back to the community. She adds, “Volunteering gives us a feeling of good-will and a sense of accomplishment. We look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new people. Everyone has a story to tell and being exposed to different social groups helps us to continue to grow and expand our knowledge of what our community has to offer.” Volunteering with the Arts Council has given the Guttmans the opportunity to be exposed to the wide variety of art forms present throughout the Lehigh Valley. In addition to the Arts Council, they have volunteered at Palmerton Concourse Club, Northampton Community College, and Northampton Animal Shelter.
On getting started volunteering, Kelly recommends deciding on what it is that you enjoy and look for opportunities to get involved. “The internet is a great tool for finding local organizations looking for help. Libraries and social events are also great venues to find information on volunteering opportunities.” Organizations are glad for any time given and often are willing to find tasks that interest you and help them. Some additional advice from our seasoned volunteers: “Wherever you volunteer, try to reach out and learn the stories of the organization’s staff and members, gain insight into the goals of the organization, and be open to accepting various volunteer assignments.”
When asked to share a favorite memory they responded, “About 10 years ago the Arts Council celebrated its 20th anniversary with an event – Rock the Arts. There were various musical groups, a silent auction, raffles, and food and drink. The atmosphere was lively and full of excitement. We served as bartenders at this event and actually ran out of refreshments before the night ended and several volunteers were tasked with a beer run to replenish the stock! Guests patiently waited for drinks while enjoying the festivities and interacting with other members and patrons. It was a very festive evening and great to see all the guests interacting and enjoying the atmosphere.”
We sincerely appreciate all Kelly and Mike do for the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, along with all of our volunteers, and glad they are part of our Arts Council Family. If you are interested in volunteering with the Arts Council please contact us at 610-437-5915.