Volunteer Corner: The Loft Stage’s Outstanding Volunteers of 2013-2014


For years now, former booster board member MARY KEIFFER has been a familiar face at Loft functions.  Always willing to take a lead role on many, many projects, this year’s Outstanding Volunteer dependably follows through with an attention to detail that ensures consistency and quality in all of her efforts.  This year Mary headed up the Fall Gala and Silent Auction, and in her capable hands, the Loft Stage’s biggest fundraiser of the year was a huge success.  And Mary has been tireless, volunteering for ticket sales, poster plaster, special events, etc., etc., the list goes on.  Lucky for the Loft Stage, Mary plans to continue volunteering next year, once again leading the monumental Gala planning efforts.

When it comes to Loft Stage events, DEB and CHUCK ECKBERG are everywhere.  Because this dynamic duo volunteers A LOT and often together, the Eckbergs were selected jointly as a Loft Stage Outstanding Volunteer.  Of course, they contribute tremendously as individuals:  Chuck secured a large number of donations for the Fall Silent Auction, for example, and Deb organized the potluck dinner for AIDA strike.  But let’s be real, together these two are a force of nature.  The Loft asks, and BAM!  The Eckbergs deliver.  The Loft is giddy to learn they will be sticking around next year.

Last but not least, go-to guys DAVE WINSTON and TODD NELSON are George’s and Jimmy’s picks as outstanding production volunteers.  Given their impressive work ethics, it comes as no surprise these two volunteers already were featured in a previous newsletter way back in January.  Their Q & A is reprinted below in its entirety:

ERHS parents Dave Winston and Todd Nelson graciously submitted to a Newsletter interview.  Learn what these Loft Stage supervolunteers have been up to this year, and then ask yourself:  When do these guys sleep?

Rumor has it you are workshopaholics.  About how many volunteer hours do you put in each week?

DW–The amount of time varies by show and my work/travel schedule.  During the late summer (prepping the shop and the parade float) and Aida in the fall it was as much as 7-10 hours a week or even more.

TN–Probably 10, when things are really moving in the scene shop, between Saturdays and a couple of nights a week.

Wow, you’re putting up some big numbers.  What projects have you been working on this year?  

DW–I seemed to have worked on a number of pyramids for Aida.  I know the song in the show recommended putting “5000 slaves on standby” but we managed to succeed with a handful of volunteers!

TN–I helped build pyramids and staircases for Aida, flats for the One-Act, Failure: A Love Story, and did some odd jobs on both.  Plus, moving things.  If nothing else is going on, there’s always something to move into, out of or within the shop.

And that’s not all you do.  Show biz people often hear: “Don’t quit your day job,” advice that’s equally relevant for avid volunteers such as yourselves.  So, what is your day job?

DW–I am a Vice President of Underwriting for Arch Insurance Company.  We insure many large construction firms, projects and as well as numerous Fortune 500 companies.  I work a lot with attorneys and actuaries during the day, so it is fun to spend time in the shop and work on something tangible.

TN–I’m a freelance journalist and specialize in writing about business topics.  Projects include writing a weekly Star Tribune column on small businesses and entrepreneurs.  Most of my work is from home, so I look forward to the interaction and energy in the scene shop.

Impressive jobs—in terms of both career status and total lack of application to set construction.  But let’s talk guts and glory:  Describe your biggest shop mishap or your greatest construction accomplishment.

DW–It is difficult to choose one!  I thought that the amount and variety of pieces that we worked on last year for White Christmas was a great accomplishment by the whole team.  As far as mishaps are concerned, my graceful tumble off the shelves in the prop storage room was tough to beat!  Glad the spiral stairs were there to catch me!

TN–I enjoyed seeing how the separate pieces we had worked on for Aida came together as a whole and how the cast, crew and orchestra brought so much life to it all on stage.  More than made up for the occasional splinter.  

At last, you’ve come to the multiple-choice portion of your interview.  Select from the lettered options to complete the following sentence:  The reason I volunteer at the Loft Stage is…

A.  It’s a great way to give back and support my child’s interest in theater.
B.  It satisfies man’s powerful subconscious drive to create.
C.  One word:  George.
D.  Two words:  Power Tools.
E.  Any excuse to wear those attractive safety goggles.
F.  Finally, an opportunity to use high school math to solve real world problems.

DW–All of the above.  Plus I have a whole new audience for awful puns.

TN–All!  And it’s often is a welcome refuge from our menagerie of cats, dogs and other pets.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for your time and talents.  On behalf of the Loft Stage, The Newsletter salutes you.