Volunteer Spotlight 2011

Recognizing the diverse volunteers of our organization, the “Free to" Awards honor Free Arts volunteers who have made a significant impact in a variety of focus areas. In addition to our Volunteer of the Year, we hope to shine the spotlight on additional volunteers who have made a significant impact in our community.

Volunteer of the Year | Linda Kramer

Linda Kramer lives part of the year in New Jersey and part of the year here in the Valley. She and her husband, Dan, discovered Free Arts in 2005 and made a contribution to help fund our programs. Linda has a background in art and interior design and immediately enrolled in the Weekly Mentor Program and is still an active and Master Mentor for us currently. She takes pride in serving our youth so much that on her personal email signature she has “Proud Volunteer for…” with our Free Arts logo and link to our website. Not only has she given of her time and talent to our kids, she has assisted in fundraising, is a constant ambassador- often wearing our “Art Heals” t-shirt strategically to art community events in order to attract more donors and raise awareness, and she and Dan are valued investors in our programs. We are so elated to honor Linda as the Margaret Beresford Volunteer of the Year award recipient for 2012. She will return to New Jersey soon and we will see her again in October and in true dedicated fashion, she will be back to Phoenix in time for the October 16th Every Child Matters Luncheon. Thank you, Linda, for making Free Arts such a priority in your life! We are truly grateful.


Free to Express | Norman McLash

Norman McLash got involved through the Palette of Homes tour in 2008 and is now a valued member of the Board of Directors and consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty for our youth! He co-chaired for the second time alongside Kris Kollasch in the 2012 Art from the Heart Auction Committee planning. He is amazing at seeking out his business contacts and rallying them to use their dollars for good on behalf of Free Arts. He has a kind approach in his sales technique, so anyone he meets is persuaded to do what he asks of them. He is a professional event goer and enthusiast, which allows him to offer up invaluable ideas. In his Development support capacity, Norman guides our development team, secures major sponsorships, helps promote and sell tickets to events, and displays a boyish zest for life that is encouraging to anyone lucky to interact with him.

Free to Inspire | Theresa Johnson

Since the moment she came to us in October 2010, her bright spirit and positive attitude drew attention immediately and we knew whatever she set out to help Free Arts with, she would accomplish. She came first in a fundraising capacity through Republic Media where staff and fellow volunteers observed that her love for our youth aka “the ninos” and our mission emanated from her.   When she attended orientation, she was hooked, and luckily for us got to work right away! As she waited for her fingerprint clearance card and was patient going through the training required to mentor, she dove right in and started hosting 3rd party events to benefit our youth and programs and held art supply drives. She collaborated with Board Member Kris Kollasch and helped resurrect one of our greatest fundraising events, the Art from the Heart Auction, and continues giving of her creativity -lending us her time, talent, and resources and donating her graphic design skills. She did an excellent job again this year with her help on the auction and continues to be a valued weekly mentor at Tumbleweed.   

Free to Believe | Rose Marie Stremel

Rose Marie started her relationship with Free Arts at the Art from the Heart Art Auction in February, 1997.  Since then she has mentored grade school kids, teen boys, in a DV shelter, a group home, a treatment center and a transitional housing program and most recently brought her volunteer experience full circle by helping out with this year’s Art From the Heart art auction.  If any of the kids that she mentored were here, they would probably tell you that their favorite experiences with their mentor group was the day she and her partner made chocolate birds’ nests or gingerbread houses, or maybe they’d tell you about how they got to visit Ed Mell’s studio and watch him work, Or perhaps they’d just reflect on the consistency and joy that this mentor brings to their lives. 

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