Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Four or more volunteers are usually at the concession stand area at the Harvester Center, ready to assist guests as soon as they step up to the counter for service.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post
The response was overwhelming when the call went out for volunteers for the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount.
The center opened its 2014 schedule with a show on April 11, but the volunteers were at work even before the stage lights were turned on.
"Volunteers came in before the construction crew had finished the job," said Sheila Silverstein, assistant director of the HPC. "They were cleaning restrooms, fixtures and doing everything they could to assist in the opening. And they haven't stopped."
More than 40 names compile the list of Harvester volunteers and they range in age from high school students to retirees. The one thing they all have in common is their love of music and their community, as evidenced by the enthusiasm displayed on the job.
In addition to the county and town, volunteers hail from Roanoke, Salem and the Bedford side of Smith Mountain Lake.
On average, 10-12 volunteers are at the center on concert nights, arriving about 6 p.m. More volunteers are needed for sold-out shows.
If the show isn't sold out, Rex Norris is ready at the box office window, either to sell tickets or give directions to those with advance purchases. He also mans the box office Tuesday through Friday to handle advance sales for all shows.
Greg Winge, director of the Comprehensive Service Act (CSA) for Franklin County, was the greeter Friday night, opening the door and welcoming concert-goers to Rocky Mount.
The greeter also directs people to the "ticket table," which is on the right, just past the comfortable seating for those who arrive early. On Friday night, the table was manned by Carolyn Brown, a long-time employee at the Uttermost Corp., and Maria Long, the assistant director of the CSA. They were stamping the hands of visitors, which is used instead of a ticket.
Just across the room is another table, where visitors are given a wristband to control the number of alcoholic beverage purchases that can be made at the concession stand.
Four or more volunteers are usually at the concession stand area, ready to assist guests as soon as they step up to the counter for service. In addition to liquid refreshments, they also sell hotdogs and pretzels from the Bootlegger Café across the street.
After being served by regulars Johnny and Allison Nunley and Danita Block, a tall table nearby contains all the condiments needed to "dress up" a hotdog, plus plenty of brightly colored napkins.
There are also ushers posted at the concert hall doors to explain how the seating is arranged on each night. Most shows are festival seating, while VIP seating is offered for specific performances. The ushers are often called upon to bring in additional chairs when larger crowds than expected show up on concert nights.
Gary Jackson, the HPC director, does sound checks before every concert to make certain the sound system is in good working order. Almost every performer who has come to Rocky Mount has complimented the acoustics at the Harvester.
Silverstein can be seen moving from station to station throughout the complex, making sure the volunteers have everything they need. She, too, welcomes visitors and thanks them for attending, as she performs her duties, which includes overseeing the volunteers.
Volunteers at the music venue get to enjoy a wide variety of music at the Harvester.
"It's hard to believe such well known bands have been scheduled to come to Rocky Mount," said one volunteer. "Kevin Bacon and his brother put on a tremendous show and just kept interacting with the audience."
"This band of music lovers and proud Franklin County residents are enthusiastic about being at the Harvester because of their love of music and what the center means to the growth of their community," Silverstein said. "I, for one, am proud to know them and will be forever grateful for their support. Without a doubt, they are the backbone of the Harvester."
In addition to Winge, volunteers include Deborah Galloway, Bobbye Buckner, Nathan Bowman, Alex Young, Nancy Bell, Nancy Freeman, James Maxey, Bonnie Overman, Carolyn Brown, Juanita Dudley, Gail Cole Law, Jordan Clark, Shelli Arthur, Bill Fuller, Maria Long, Tom Conroy, Monica Seale, Teri Brockley, Clem and Paula Poston, Penny and Johnny Guilliams, Courtney Edwards, Lisa Westmoreland, Van Renick, Gordon and Julie Ploucher, Bill Parcell, Denny McCarthy, Nancy Castillo, Sharon Angle, Diane Gray, Evie Sloan, Marlan Yates, Beth Gunter, Johnny and Allison Nunley, and Danita Block.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.