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Phipps Center volunteers featured in national theater magazine

These longtime Phipps volunteers handle on average one mailing a week for the center ranging in size from 500 to 1,500 pieces. It began with the wives who are now regularly assisted by their husbands. Pictured from left are Ron and Judy Tobias, and Bob and Marian Kaisersatt. Photos by Meg Heaton

While The Phipps Center in Hudson is recognized throughout the region for its theater productions, gallery exhibits, and concerts and performances, that isn't what it got noticed for in the September issue of "Stage Directions," a trade magazine about the art and technology of theater.

The article was entitled "The Care and Feeding of Volunteers," and The Phipps Center's hundreds of volunteers were among those featured.

The article noted that volunteers are an important part of bringing people into whatever is going on in theater and arts centers around the country. John Potter, The Phipps Center's longtime artistic director, agrees. "Volunteerism is about relationships. New volunteers are usually the result of a personal invitation to participate by a friend or acquaintance or a staff member. The Phipps Center is fortunate to have over 600 volunteers annually who tell their friends about the fun and rewarding experiences they have at the center."

Volunteers are a part of every activity at The Phipps from serving on the center's visual and performing arts councils, to behind-the-scenes stage work, publicity and administrative work to ushering at productions throughout the year.

Judy Tobias and Marian Kaisersatt have been sending out an average of one mailing a week for The Phipps for close to 15 years. Their husbands, Ron Tobias and Bob Kaisersatt joined them in the effort. Sometimes the mailing will be for 500, other times for as many as 1,500. While doing something to support the center, it is also something they obviously enjoy doing together.

"We've been told the work we do amounts to several full-time people. That's an important savings and contribution," said Judy Tobias.

Volunteer Joyce Law has been working in The Phipps ticket office and gift shop for five years. When she retired, she was looking for an opportunity to use her computer skills. The ticket office fit the bill.

"I have always loved theater and The Phipps and I'm keeping my computer skills up. It is a fun thing to do and a great way to give back," said Law.

Potter went onto to say in the article that it is important to acknowledge the contribution volunteers make. They are usually mentioned in program notes from directors, coordinators and staff members and at the annual "Cheers for Volunteers" celebration.

Potter also noted that volunteers come and go, and that it bothered him to see them leave in his early years at the center. "Then I realized that people leave for a variety of reasons. Allowing a valued volunteer to come and go according to their interests and their schedule enables them to return refreshed and reinvigorated rather than persevering out of a sense of obligation. Over the years, many have taken a break and then returned to their previous responsibilities or have pursued new positions within the organization. Another benefit is that new leaders are given the opportunity to serve."

For more information about volunteer opportunities at The Phipps Center or about the new season, call (715) 386-2305 or go online at

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604