Volunteering Offers Surprises

I started volunteering for the Carnegie in the winter of 2018. I complained to my college counselor about having no outlets during my winter break and she told me about the Carnegie, told me it was right next to the police department so my parents wouldn’t have to worry about me being unsafe. She called the number on the website, and proceeded to talk to someone about what it would take to become a volunteer. I could hear a cheery voice emitting from the receiver. I came to know later, this was Lisa McDermott, the Carnegie’s Director, and her voice would become pleasantly familiar. I walked out of my counselor’s office that day with an application that I would turn in a couple weeks later.

For a long time, I volunteered as a Gallery Attendant on Saturdays. I had to greet visitors, but the echoing gallery walls made me even more self-conscious of my voice than I already was. The most I could do was smile and stammeringly answer any questions directed to me.

Studio art lesson during The Fine Art of Pastels exhibition, spring 2019.

I never would have guessed at that time that I would conduct Studio Docent sessions for The Fine Art of Pastels field trips in May of 2019. But I did. I was sick to my stomach with nerves and my voice would shake, but I did a few sessions. And I did some more in December of that same year when My Hero! was on display. 

Studio art lesson during My Hero! field Trip, fall 2019.

I never would have guessed that I would feel comfortable behind that receptionist desk and complete a Marketing Internship over the summer, where I saw pieces for the annual Ready, Set, Show exhibition and the preparations for My Hero! coming to Turlock. 

It sounds like I’m boasting, I know, but I was only able to make so much growth because the entire staff — Lisa, Paulina, Melissa, and Maggie — are so welcoming. I remember that at the end of my first year volunteering for the Carnegie, I asked Lisa for a reference and she told me about the Before and After School Programs run by the city. I didn’t apply for a position there until months later, but it became my first job.

At the Carnegie, I found a space where I could expand myself, and spaces like these are invaluable treasures. Thank you Carnegie family, for taking me in, and I hope to contribute my time again soon.

Stephanie Salas, Volunteer/Docent

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