Crown Foundation is Volunteerism
It is easy to forget that your favorite drum and bugle corps is a non-profit organization. You see them at shows in their perfectly-pressed uniforms and costumes performing at the highest of levels and it feels as though you're watching a professional Broadway musical. But while a touring Broadway show has a paid support staff, a drum corps like Carolina Crown is supported by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Parents, former members, and fans give up their time over camp weekends every month during the winter and spring to help the Crown administrative team prepare the 150 members for their summer tour. Many will also help during the month of spring training in May, and still more will give up a part of or their entire summer and go on the road with Crown.
The list of jobs these selfless people do is truly endless--everything from driving a truck or van to cooking or sewing--there is never a lack for work to be done around a drum corps. And the reasons why so many folks give up their time to help Carolina Crown are as varied as the jobs they are asked to do.
Crown is ultimately a volunteer based organization. Co-founder and original corps director, Kevin Smith, has never taken a salary from the organization. To this day he is a major donor, drives a vehicle throughout the summer, manages all the drivers, and serves as the president of the board of directors. This unselfish spirit led Kevin to his recent election into the DCI Hall of Fame, and undoubtedly inspires many fans to want to help the Crown organization as volunteers.
"I believe that anytime a leadership person in an organization is a volunteer it inspires others to want to join in and also give of their time," said Kevin. "It generates a mentality that we are all in this together." Kevin also mentioned that even during the first year of the corps, everyone on staff was a volunteer.
Over the 25 years that Crown has been fielding a corps, eight people have won the prestigious DCI Volunteer of the Year Award. And several of the dedicated supporters who helped to establish Crown in the late 1980's have been volunteering ever since.
While volunteers come and go each year, some help Carolina Crown for many years. Laurie Oakley and Tammy Dorn have both been Crown volunteers since their sons began marching in 2012. While both of their sons aged out this year, Tammy and Laurie continue to volunteer, helping to train the next generation of Crown parents.
New Crown parents Chris and Caroline Buck are helping out so they can support their son who is auditioning for the CrownPIT. Chris marched in drum corps so he has a unique view of volunteering as he has seen the role from the perspective of a marching member and now a parent. "When I was marching I knew the volunteers were there and that things were getting done, but I was mostly focused on taking care of my job and marching and playing well," said Chris. "As a parent now, I see how important volunteers are, and the way they are treated here at Crown is first class."
Tour Director Nancy Barth has been making a conscious effort to strengthen the volunteer base since she started with Crown in 2012. She comes at her role from a different perspective than most, as she spent many years marching in drum corps and was a staff member, a parent, and even a volunteer herself. "With my background I know how hard a job it is to work on the food truck or sew or do any of the other jobs our volunteers are asked to do," said Nancy. "The volunteers are taking care of our kids so I want to be there for them to listen, to see that they get enough rest, and to make sure their time with Crown is enjoyable."
While volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and are motivated in differing ways, after spending time with Carolina Crown they do share two things in common: they had no idea how hard they were going to work and they would definitely do it again. Seeing the work the members put in, how much they improve over the months of rehearsal and tour, and the lessons they learn is a true inspiration.
If you would like to get involved and volunteer with Carolina Crown please email Nancy Barth at Nancy@carolinacrown.org.