September 1, 2023
By Donna McMillan
In 1996, Nancy Sherwin was new to Port Dover and wanted to get involved in the community and meet new people. She heard Lighthouse Festival Theatre was looking for volunteers and decided to offer her time. She is still volunteering and reaping the benefits of greeting people who come to the theatre. “Everyone is here to have an enjoyable time. It’s a nice vibe,” she told the Maple Leaf in an interview.
Stephanie Grant is the Patron Experience Supervisor at Lighthouse Festival Theatre and is responsible for the box office and bar areas at the theatre. She also is the Volunteer Coordinator for the 105 volunteers who work as greeters, ushers, 50/50 draw sellers, ice cream vendors, helpers with hors d’oeuvres opening night and more during the season playbill and special events held at LFT. “Our volunteers are dedicated and willing to go above and beyond due to their love of theatre or desire to be helping others,” Stephanie told the Maple Leaf. Volunteers range in age from being in their 20’s to their 80’s, she shared. Some have been with the theatre for more than 30 years, she added. “Some may work one performance per show while others might work ten per show,” she said. Volunteers sign up for when and how many shows they wish to cover.
For a single performance, Stephanie shared four ushers work the main floor, two in the balcony, two sell 50/50 tickets, one sells ice cream and there are greeters at the front door. At times, they might also hand out tickets when large groups arrive. To assist new volunteers, there is a volunteer handbook outlining job descriptions, policies and procedures. As a thank you, volunteers can attend a performance if there are empty seats. Or, if they are scheduled for two shifts during a performance, they are provided two tickets to a preview performance, Stephanie said. LFT also holds a Volunteers Appreciation Night with all staff and board members attending to thank volunteers. “It is hard to show how thankful we are,” Stephanie said. Just to show how dedicated volunteers are, Stephanie said during a power outage at the theatre, two volunteers who were in the audience came forward to help a wheelchair patron get out of the building. Volunteers help decorate for Christmas and some enjoy a bit of dancing before patrons arrive as the opening night music group are warming up.
Nancy, who has worked most volunteer jobs over the years, spoke of all the positive changes she has witnessed at the theatre from the new seat installation, the new front entrance and exterior look to the back section on the theatre level with the Long Bar. Nancy said it is great to work with a great team. “Everyone jumps in to help out and LFT is good to their volunteers.”