#HOTSpeaks: Former HOT Staffer Gives Back
Each year on #GivingTuesday, people take time out of their day to give back to nonprofits like HOT. Some give monetary donations – large and small – which allow nonprofits continue to cover their operating budget. Others give expertise, food or clothing, or simple acts of kindness. And at HOT, more than 500 local arts supporters give their time.
One of those volunteers is former HOT staffer Danielle Wood.
“When I left HOT, I said I would volunteer and no one believed me. But I stuck to my word!” Danielle, who is now Sales Manager for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, said. “I volunteer for HOT because I love live music and I love theater. I like the HOT mission, I like the staff, and I like being able to support the arts in some way.”
HOT volunteers help with make-up, wigs, costumes, special events, note taking, and even hosting visiting opera stars during productions. Outside of productions, volunteers assist HOT with special events like the Opera Ball, Act II Fashion Resale and HPR Pledge Drive. Danielle has volunteered at every mainstage HOT opera production since 2013. Her favorite time to volunteer is opening night.
“I like when I can tell that someone is apprehensive about their first opera, especially if they’re younger,” she said. “Then they come talk to me at intermission, and they’re getting into it, and I’m just like, ‘I told you it would be interesting!’ I like seeing that ‘I get it now’ moment and being able to connect with people that way.”
When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier and healthier they were. Volunteering also comes with a sense of belonging to a community, which is especially true within the HOT ohana.
“The HOT Chorus is like a family,” Angeliki Scordilis, a volunteer HOT chorister, said in an interview for a #HOTSpeaks chorus feature in August. “All the people, they’re like my aunties and uncles.”
Seeing an opera is a moving experience for many, but being a part of an opera can be life-changing. Danielle’s first experience volunteering took her backstage, where she set up an after party for the cast. She found it magical that she could peek past the velvet curtains and see glimpses of the production from a new angle.
“If you’re someone who’s new to opera, try volunteering,” Danielle said. “You get to see a show for free, you meet so many nice people, and you get to break down the barrier of what people think opera is.”