Andrea retired from a large, American high-tech firm last year. She now works part-time as a consultant and enjoys her guilt-free time in the garden. Andrea started attending NAC performances in 1988 and became a donor in 2002. She and her husband began volunteering in the Ruddy Lounge for donors in 2017. Andrea also enjoys volunteering as a greeter for shows and special events.
Many people don’t know that there are dozens of volunteers filling various roles at the National Arts Centre. You can find them helping guests before and during events, working in the archives, or serving drinks in the Ruddy Lounge for donors. Let’s introduce you to two of these dedicated individuals.
Haguer is a busy mom of two who works full-time as a Human Resources professional for the Government of Canada. Originally from Egypt, she participated as an usher for the Cairo International Film Festival and loved the experience. After moving to Canada in 2014 and settling into life in Ottawa, Haguer began volunteering in arts-related events like the Juno Awards. Her first volunteer shift with the NAC was in February 2020 – just as the global pandemic shut down life as we knew it. Undeterred, she returned to the NAC in December 2021 and hasn’t looked back. Haguer also volunteers for an organization that helps people facing employment barriers.
Rolande is a Registered Nurse who recently retired from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Prior to retirement, Rolande spent several years volunteering with the Canadian Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) Association. CJD is close to Rolande’s heart after working with the Agency’s CJD Surveillance System and seeing how devastating the disease can be. As she prepared to retire, Rolande looked to expand her volunteering horizons and the NAC meshed perfectly with her lifelong love of the arts. She began volunteering in October 2021. This summer she will help tend the rooftop garden that produces some of the herbs used in the NAC’s 1 Elgin Restaurant!
Haguer and Rolande are passionate about making the NAC a welcoming place, whether you’re attending a performance or taking in one of the many other events happening in the building. They enjoy meeting people and look forward to the excitement that the audience brings. When a sold-out crowd for Broadway Across Canada’s Hamilton graced the halls of the NAC, positivity and linguistic diversity filled the air. Although the show was performed in English, guests moved freely between English, French and several other languages and Rolande says helping guests in both official languages was a thrill. Both agree that human contact is a perfect antidote to the increasingly digital lives we lead. Like many volunteers, Rolande and Haguer notice that they finish their volunteer shift with more energy than when they started. As Rolande says, “The energy is nourishing!”
Alain Chauvin, the NAC’s Volunteer Coordinator says: “It’s always special to walk through the lobbies of the NAC when volunteers are there. The warm smiles seen on the faces of all our volunteers makes this job a very special one.”
Haguer believes volunteering at the NAC provides a window into Canadian culture, especially for newcomers to Canada. She believes it is a safe place and appreciates the ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion. As a seat filler for Starwalker: A Celebration of the Songs, Music and Life of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Haguer was thrilled to watch performances from some of Canada’s finest Indigenous artists. The diversity in the audience was truly beautiful to see, with ribbon skirts and beadwork of every colour of the rainbow.
The next time you’re at the NAC and see someone in a purple volunteer vest or t-shirt, say “Hello”. You’re sure to be greeted with a cheerful “Hello!” in return, and possibly some useful information too.