Congratulations to the winners of the 2016-2017 volunteer awards. They were all very much deserved.

Haskell Fitz-Simons Distinguished Performer Award
M. Dennis Poole

Charles V. York, Jr. Theatre Service Award
David Wilk

Glenn Amos Miller Technical Service Award
Jennifer Leiner

Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year Award
Andrew Ingram

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Awards:
Chris Acevedo
Michael Dunavan
Barbette Hunter
Phillip Kennedy
Gerrie Kouri
Russ & Heather Owen
Brandon Scopel
Heather J. Strickland
Randy & Christine Thomson
Barbara Witherwax

Haskell Fitz-Simons Distinguished Performer Award: M. Dennis Poole

Presented by Patrick Torres

This year’s Haskell Fitz-Simons Distinguished Performer Award goes to Dennis Poole. Dennis’ depth of service and his length of his service makes it difficult to summarize his impact in a couple of sentences. Offstage, Dennis has served as an assistant director, has often worked in concessions for outdoor events, and is always available to help serve food for special events or at strike dinners. In fact, there is a joke around here that if you have ever been handed a cheese cube at RLT, chances are Dennis handed it to you! Onstage, Dennis has volunteered as a part of every single Divas since its inception, either as a Diva, a guest performer, or a mentor. He has been a part of Cinderella for 20 years and has played Gertrude for 19 years. Dennis is a true friend to the theatre and makes every volunteer he meets feel welcome – and can entertain them with a plethora of stories from his experience over all these years. It is with tremendous pleasure I present this years Haskell Fitz-Simons Award to Dennis Poole.

Charles V. York, Jr. Theatre Service Award: David Wilk

Presented by Todd Aberts

I am told my York winner’s first show here was Brigadoon in the 2000-2001 season. He has been volunteering here off and on since. He has worked in the scene shop, run deck crew, worked on lights, stage managed and helped with multiple years of Diva’s and as I have not been here for even a 1/3rd of the time he has, I am sure I missed some of the things he has helped with. I always appreciate his even temperament, professionalism and baking. So I am very happy to present this year’s York to one of our favorite bakers, David Wilk.

Glenn Amos Miller Technical Service Award: Jennifer Leiner

Presented by Duncan Jenner

Many volunteers start their story here at RLT with a short email. It’s often something simple like “I’m interested in getting involved.” A year and a half ago we received these exact words from someone who would grow incredibly fast, and become so involved her name is automatically added to the playbill for each show. She has put paint on every single show this season, and countless times we’ve had to shoo her off the stage before a rehearsal. She brings a wonderful amount of enthusiasm, as well as her own fantastic style to everything she works on.

While I may have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to say “take a step back, it looks great from 20 feet!” I am proud to present this year’s Glenn Miller Technical Service award to Jen Leiner.

Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year Award: Andrew Ingram

Presented by Larisa Putnam

The Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year award is given to the individual whose zeal and enthusiasm have made them an RLT fixture seemingly overnight. Andrew Owen Ingram embodies that zeal and enthusiasm. Additionally, he never stops asking how he can help. During one of our first meaningful conversations, Andy asked if he could rewrite the House Manager handbook. I’m not sure I even answered him. I may have just looked at him quizzically and whispered “yes, please?” Not a week goes by when Andy does not reach out to ask what he can do, or how he can help. This season, Andy has filled in as concessions coordinator (no small task), usher, House Manager, House Manager trainer, backstage night tour guide, and has recently joined the Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Committee in order to find additional ways to help the theatre. Andy will tell you that he is here out of his love of theatre and community. He will also tell you he believes he is undeserving of this award. No one here more than I knows how very deserving Andy is to be the 2016-2017 Ed Bodell Rookie of the Year.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Chris Acevedo

Presented by Todd Aberts

My first wolfie award winner has found himself in many different roles around the theatre. He has been an intern in the business office, assistant stage manager, light board operator, followspot operator, usher and house manager and I am probably missing some things. All of these he has done with great energy and a smile. We are happy to have him as part of the RLT family, Chris Acevedo.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Michael Dunavan

Presented by Larisa Putnam

My final Wolfie presentation this evening goes to a person who has shared his boundless energy with the theatre in a number of ways. Over the past year, Michael Dunavan has been an actor, an usher, a House Manager, a tour guide, concessions trainer, and preview reception coordinator. I know we owe Mike’s family as big a thank you for sharing him with us. Mike has a passion for theatre, and a drive to do all things well, and we are very lucky that that he chose Raleigh Little Theatre as his second home. Please welcome Michael Dunavan to the stage to accept our thank you!

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Barbette Hunter

Presented by Charles Phaneuf

There are certain jobs around the theater that it seems like no one wants to do. This award winner is a person who often steps up in those situations. She coordinated concessions during “The Whipping Man,” and again helped during “A Piece of My Heart.” She’s also done a lot of concessions training. Over the last few years, she’s repeatedly volunteered when there’s a special event, like a showcase or reception. Most importantly, though, she’s a great ambassador, inviting new people to the theater, asking people to get involved and illustrating a relentless positivity and kindness. The fact that she does all of this while also teaching tons of summer camps and classes here and throughout the community speaks all the more to her dedication. This Wolfie goes to Barbette Hunter.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Phillip Kennedy

Presented by Charles Phaneuf

Our next Wolfie recipient is someone who has made a major impact, but who largely has helped out in anonymity. His participation as a board member ex-officio began in 2009, when he was new to the firm of Williams Mullen. He continued to serve RLT when he made the transition to in-house counsel at Xerium Technologies, making the trip to board meetings through rush hour traffic from Youngsville. His initial project for RLT was assisting in the revision of organization by-laws, which had not had a major overhaul in many years. He went on to help with a number of different matters, and we absolutely could not have navigated the complex negotiations related to Harvey Bumgardner’s estate without his advice and consistently calm demeanor. Though he has now stepped back from the board, we hope to see him, his wife Blair and their children back at the theater often. It’s with great appreciation that I’d like to present this Wolfie to Phillip Kennedy.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Gerrie Kouri

Presented by Kathleen Rudolph

This Al Wolfheimer Award goes to someone that I have known for a very long time. We met in 2001 when her daughter and I were both cast in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The play had a large cast, but the director thought it would be so adorable if there were an additional 8 baby angels – all of whom were 4 years old. Needless to say, we needed a volunteer to wrangle these angels who were a handful and extremely dramatic. This brave woman stepped up to the plate.

Over the years she has helped me on almost every show I have directed. Her official title is Assistant Stage Manager, but she has been mother, nurse, organizer, supplier of food and therapist to most of the people in these casts. She goes over and above what is expected all the time. And she is always smiling! I truly don’t know how I’d do a show without her.

This Wolfie goes to Gerrie Kouri.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Russ & Heather Owen

Presented by Larisa Putnam

These Wolfie recipients are unable to attend this evening, so they asked that I give the award to others. I politely declined. They said their time spent at the theatre is meant to make friends and support the theatre community. For Front of House opportunities, Heather & Russ Owen have been shoulders on which I frequently lean. Russ Owen has been a member of the Thursday Set Building Crew for over five years. Together with his wife, Heather, Russ works concessions, ushers and requests to work all outdoor events. Heather and Russ already have their name on the list for this year’s Packapalooza. We are tremendously grateful for their time, energy, and commitment to the theatre. Please give them a warm round of applause!

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Brandon Scopel

Presented by Duncan Jenner

Our next Wolfie recipient is never one to settle. When he started working on Memphis and realized that our speakers at the time weren’t up to his standards he brought in his own setup. When he looked at the sound studio and decided it needed updating he spent weeks making new racks and repairing cable. When he was done for the night, and realized I was going to be working on the set for another few hours he picked up a screw gun and asked how he could help.

He is tirelessly enthusiastic, and always eager to make things better; that is why I’m please to present this Wolfie to Brandon Scopel.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Heather J. Strickland

Presented by Patrick Torres

Our next award goes to a wonderful human being who seems to have more hours in the day than the rest of us. She has more energy than this entire room combined, and this neverending supply of energy pales in comparison to her passion for art, for RLT, and for the entire theatre community. She served this year as the Volunteer Representative to the Board of Directors. In that role, she has fed casts, helped to organize volunteer appreciation events, and most importantly conducted an extensive volunteer survey – the results of which she has used to challenge the staff to better implement strategies to serve you better. She has had and will continue to have a direct impact on your experience as a volunteer here. She makes us all better when she works with us, and I could not be happier to present this award to Heather Strickland.

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Randy & Christine Thomson

Presented by Larisa Putnam

This Wolfie presentation goes to another dynamic duo that has literally walked miles and miles supporting Raleigh Little Theatre. For years, Randy & Christine Thomson have been diligently marketing every RLT production by hanging and changing out posters at shops and restaurants throughout Cameron Village. Additionally, Randy & Christine share preview tickets with friends and neighbors who then fall in love with our theatre! It took months for us to meet, as I am frequently away from my desk when they stop by to pick up the posters. They quietly come in, take the stack of posters, and quietly leave – our very own marketing ninjas! A warm thank you to Randy & Christine Thomson for your time and stamina!

Al D. Wolfheimer Volunteer Award: Barbara Witherwax

Presented by Todd Aberts

What can I say about my next wolfie award winner more than she is one of my favorite people to joke with. She is one of my goto volunteers whenever I have a crew opening or last second drop out. She has run light boards, follow spots, sound boards, projections and been on deck run crew along with volunteering in the scene shop. Over the time she has been with us I have been happy to see how much she has learned and grown, Barbara Witherwax.