The heat is on in Plano, TX! In May, VISTA Sean Enfield helped Plano Children’s Theatre prepare for its upcoming summer camps. Plano Children’s Theatre offers scholarships to low income children to attend the theatre summer camps. During the summer season, the theatre operates during the days as well as the evening to accommodate the busy camp schedule. Because of the increased activity, the theatre’s volunteer needs change. As Volunteer Coordinator, Sean has been prepping to manage this shift in volunteer management. Throughout the month, he has worked to recruit interns for all four of the theatres’ camp programs and has worked with the Office Manager to re-tool the community service volunteer program so that it can continue during the camps. He has also been prepping for upcoming volunteer training initiative that will begin in the summer. Sean has recruited 114 new volunteers to serve at the summer camps. He has also managed 20 volunteers who served 125 hours in May by building production sets and other vital agency needs.
In May 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Resource Development Officer Melanie Cheney secured a $20,000 grant for Plano Children’s Theatre from the Hudson Foundation by creating a ‘target list’ of foundations and reaching out to each one about making a grant toward the agency’s capital campaign. After a successful site visit with the Hudson Foundation, they agreed to sponsor of one of the large practice rooms in the new facilities in the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano. This money will go toward the renovation of the space and contribute to the creation of the Willow Bend Center of the Arts. Melanie also submitted a grant application to the Hoglund Foundation for $3,500. If granted, the funds will be used to provide free programs in Dallas Title I elementary schools.
In April, VISTA Sean Enfield recruited 20 new volunteers and managed 52 volunteers to help organize a number of events for the North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) organization. He connected with the Plano chapter of the National Charity League to operate a crafting booth at the Shops of Willow Bend, a mall located in Plano, TX. This booth was used to reach kids and advertise for Plano Children’s Theatre’s eventual move into that retail center. In addition, he connected with National Honor Society chapters in the McKinney region to recruit volunteers for the last of NTPA’s award ceremonies. Throughout April, Sean worked to improve his volunteer recruitment and management skills. He developed a survey to distribute among the office staff weekly so that he can better prepare a list of Volunteer Needs, Opportunities, and Activities. He has also been working to improve communications among the existing network of parent volunteers, particularly as it pertains to the production volunteers.
The mission of the North Texas Performing Arts – Plano Children’s Theatre is to develop the character of youth through quality performing arts education and family entertainment. Plano Children’s Theatre offers full-ride scholarships to talented and less privileged children, provides complimentary tickets to charitable organizations, teacher groups, and school fundraising events and offers free programming at local community centers. Melanie Cheney, Resource Development VISTA, prepared and consolidated documents for an annual board meeting at North Texas Performing Arts. During this process, Melanie edited the documents for clarity, sorted the documents into easily understandable categories, and created binders for each board member in attendance (45 total). Cheney delegated some work to volunteers, so she was not only able to practice her editing skills, but also her leadership skills. In addition, Melanie played an instrumental role in raising $20,000 in private donations from patrons she met with in previous months. Monies raised will add to the current capital campaign for the Willow Bend Theatre and benefit low-income and special needs children through the agency’s programs. Melanie helps to solidify relationships with new and existing donors through prompt thank you letters of which she created templates for use by staff and volunteers. Melanie attended a meeting with representatives from the Hudson Foundation and established a relationship that will hopefully lead to consideration for future grant-giving.
In March 2017, Plano Children’s Theatre’s Resource Development VISTA, Melanie Cheney, helped source and collect auction items for North Texas Performing Arts’ annual online auction. She delegated National Honor Society volunteers to call businesses in Plano and inquired about potential donations of gift cards and services. Information was taken from interested donors and Melanie visited these businesses in person to make initial contact and collect donated materials. The auction, held at the end of March, earned Plano Children’s Theatre $6,911. The agency also benefited by collecting $5,500 in donations from a donor appeal campaign coordinated by Melanie. In addition to the work mentioned, Melanie found time to write and submit a grant application to the Junior League of Collin County for 25k. The funds would be used for our Therapeutic Drama program for actors/actresses with special needs.
In March, Volunteer Enablement VISTA Sean Enfield led major volunteer events for Plano Children’s Theatre. He led teams of National Honor Society volunteers as they disposed of old set pieces, rearranged the theatre’s backstage spaces and assisted with the theatre’s awards ceremony. He led a group of Eagle Scouts who purged and reorganized the theatre’s offsite Scene Shop. A team of ten Eagle Scouts created new shelving units and cleared a great deal of space in this warehouse. Sean also created contact lists and corresponded with production volunteers. In total, Sean recruited 6 new volunteers and managed 88 community volunteers who served 423 hours of service.
In February 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger was able to write and submit a grant application for $20,000 from the Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation. The grant money, if received, will be used to strengthen North Texas Performing Arts’ Therapeutic Drama program for children and adults with special needs. In the preceding weeks, she created an outline and wrote several drafts of the application. She also generated statistics based on information she was able to obtain from archived 2016 documents. Upon approval from her supervisor, she submitted the application in mid-February.
In February, VISTA Sean Enfield played a part in the opening of North Texas Performing Arts’ new theatre in Fairview. A couple weeks prior to the Ribbon Cutting, he managed a small team helping in the final stages of the build out, and conducted interviews with the major volunteers in the Fairview project. The new theatre opened a few weeks later, and he helped volunteers ready the reception and put on the final touches for that evening’s production of Mary Poppins. In addition to the Fairview project, Sean also worked on the Plano branch’s move to Willow Bend. On that end, he recruited over 40 National Honor Society volunteers to help organize and package up parts of the theatre over Spring Break in March. He also began leading the community service volunteer initiative there and managed his first volunteer on the last Monday of the month.
In January 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger, serving with Plano Children’s Theatre, helped develop a spreadsheet for tracking and providing details about potential grants and their corresponding foundations/charitable organizations. She had noticed that the previous method of recording information about potential funders did not include a way of monitoring the next steps needed in the process. She developed a spreadsheet that took this into consideration, including a way to record important details that would help her organization become better at time management when it comes to grant-writing. The information in the spreadsheet is also very easily translated into a timeline or Gantt chart, as it includes a place to record due dates and suggested action/action dates. As she’s been working on logistics for submitting grants, Melanie was able to help submit a small grant to Texas Health Resources for $3,000. Her early work in January will hopefully prove to bring great rewards to Plano Children’s Theatre throughout the rest of the year!
In the month of January, VISTA Sean Enfield’s time was primarily devoted to the Plano Children’s Theatre’s volunteer show manager position. Early in the month, he, the managing director, and a senior volunteer organized a meeting of last year’s show managers in order to receive their feedback. From this meeting he and the staff hope to develop a “Best Practices” and a series of trainings for the position of Show Manager. Already, he has developed two new resources for show managers–one PowerPoint template and a new form for recruiting the remaining production volunteers. This is the first month these two new resources have been utilized, and while there are still kinks to be ironed out, Sean hopes that these new documents will continue to be used by future productions.