Volunteer hosts are an essential part of sustaining our program throughout the year at Bread & Roses Presents. With the help of our hosts, we presented a record-breaking 626 shows in 2016, the most ever. Forty-one active volunteers hosted 350 of these shows last year, a whopping fifty-six percent. We are so grateful for our many volunteers, hosts as well as performers, who bring hope and healing through live music to 34,000 people in the Bay Area annually who are isolated and need uplifting.
Once a year we gather our volunteer hosts together and ask them to share how Bread & Roses has made a difference in their lives as well as the lives of our audiences. Here are a few highlights from the testimonials they shared.
Though fairly new to Bread & Roses, hosting events has been a highlight of my regular schedule. It is fun getting to know the wide variety of performers and the diverse communities served such as veterans, visually impaired and kids which keeps "volunteering" stimulating and rewarding. Performances from puppetry to music always produce profound healing effects on their audiences. Being witness to such transformation is an added bonus to hosting. Volunteering for Bread & Roses "gives me back" a thousand-fold.
Volunteering with Bread & Roses is being surrounded by love. These people are here because they care. Bringing the joy of music to so many people that otherwise don't have that opportunity makes us all feel better.
Hosting for Bread & Roses is a wonderful and rewarding way to give back to our community. Music brings cheer to people's hearts and minds. The B&R performers are terrific. Every time I host I leave feeling so good because I got to be part of such a wonderful experience. It is an honor and a blessing to be pert of the B&R family.
Hosting performances for Bread & Roses Presents is a meaningful privilege allowing us the rare opportunity to connect with wonderful audiences across all walks of life. I’ve come to realize that it is we who often find ourselves isolated from the larger community in our modern day-to-day routines. We spend time with family and friends, work colleagues, a known routine, often within defined age groups and more predictable social economical realm.
It’s humbling to realize that the facilities we serve care for our children, elders, those who hunger or seek shelter, perhaps institutionalized while working through the most basic circumstances life seems to find us in, anticipating the possibility of a new start. In some ways, many seemed to have distilled what is important to the most pure human essence. Perhaps the falling off of all our varied layers allows us to better respond to community through art, music and performance. A smile, a knowing nod, a spark when something triggers a memory or takes us to another time and place, sharing a thought or question, a child learning a magic trick from a friendly clown, perhaps risking a dance, or to sing along as we all begin to connect in a shared space through music and performance.
Our performers have incredible heart with sensitivity to what resonates with these audiences in small, intimate performance. Their honed mastery of their art transcends technical details focusing on the intimate needs of the audience, prescribing just the right selection as their gift flows through us all. Easy conversation, shared humor, familiar melodies that take us to specific places in time or perhaps sharing something new that might touch our heart in a different way.
As a host, I find myself in the middle of this magic as the outside world loses its grip on me if only for an hour. Focusing on small changes, I notice individual audience members begin to unfold, opening up, as if a dormant bud awaiting the sun, takes in the rain, and begins to blossom engaging with the performer. And as the performance comes to a close, we often have a chance to talk with individuals who share their insight, a special memory or thought, with sincere appreciation as we gather equipment, pack out, and return to our routines beyond these doors. And I, too, find myself feeling a bit lighter, a bit more grounded in the beauty of human community.
Volunteering for Bread & Roses has made such a positive difference in my life. It has taught me perspective, and that I have so much to be grateful for, seeing people that have it worse off than I do. It has shown me that even the smallest effort towards people in need makes the biggest impact. There are so many people that Bread and Roses serves that feel isolated and alone. Our performers provide them with hope and joy, which is so beneficial for their healing. I always walk away from each performance will a full heart.
It has been a special privilege for me to host Bread & Roses shows. I especially enjoy hosting rehabs, homeless shelters and prisons. The music almost always brings about an emotional release from both the audiences and artists. The shows are very much appreciated by the audiences and I am always very grateful for the opportunity to participate in some small way in these performances.
Sometimes there are traffic and parking problems to contend with in getting to a show. It makes you wonder why you are doing this. Then the show goes on. You see the joy in the faces of the audience and you know why you are there. Bread & Roses makes a difference!
It's the faces. The expressions. The look of pure joy that live music brings. I have been both a volunteer Host and Performer for the last few years with Bread & Roses, and it's been one of the most rewarding and lasting experiences I've ever had in my life.
The association with Bread & Roses Presents has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. So often, I used to drive by senior centers, after school facilities or drug and alcohol recovery centers and not give them another thought. Now, through my role at Bread & Roses, I feel so much more connected to my community and to humanity in general. It's a wonderful way to show people we care, and at the same time, the smiles we receive back from the performances are so rewarding. Meeting such talented and giving musicians has only added to my enjoyment and circle of new friends. Every time I host an event, it reminds me about the circle of life and that we're all in this world together. What a great cause this is!
1) At The JAM last year, Host Tracey Rose shares why she volunteers. Photo by Caitlin Albritton
2) Long-time volunteer host Ira Potovsky greets an audience member at St. Anne's Home after the show. Photo by Peter Merts
3) Volunteer host and performer Kurt Huget introduces Culann's Hounds at Ohlhoff Recovery Programs. Photo by Peter Merts
4) Leslie Lipman shares why volunteering for Bread & Roses is rewarding. Photo by Caitlin Albritton
5) The 2016 Volunteer Host Gathering. Photo by Ken Friedman