VICENZA, Italy (April 21, 2021) – As U.S. Army Garrison Italy marks Volunteer Recognition Week many community members are being thanked for their time and dedication.
At Soldiers’ Theatre, some volunteers have supported the performing arts on Caserma Ederle, before during and since the COVID-19 closures.
“Soldiers’ Theatre would not exist without the hundreds of volunteers who contribute thousands of hours each year to the entertainment program,” said Jerry Brees, entertainment director for Soldiers’ Theatre. “Our volunteers devote their time, talents and skills to everything from acting to stage managing, from building and painting sets to making costumes, from our musicians and dancers, to sound and lighting technicians. They do it all.”
Volunteers’ dedication guarantees the community a place to call home, to enjoy and be entertained, Brees said. One of the volunteers is Marissa Blake. She contributed more than 500 hours. Last year, when some activities could restart after the lockdown, she participated in the production of “The Addams Family” musical, as a choreographer and actress. Currently, she is running the dance program with workshops.
“I also assist with the Facebook social media page. I love all things creative, but sharing my extensive background in dance is my absolute favorite creative outlet. I believe that the best way to express one’s emotions is through movement,” said Blake.
Dr. Grace Yeuell, the garrison’s religious education program director, served as the stage manager for the production.
“‘The Addams Family’ was significantly delayed because of COVID-19. We were finally able to open the curtain at the end of last summer,” Yeuell said. “It was incredibly meaningful to bring live theater back into the lives of Soldiers and families needing a break from isolation.”
The theater brings together a variety of people together who then produced first-class entertainment, to include dramas, comedies, musicals, and Improv, Yeuell said.
Veterans at Soldiers’ Theatre have volunteered throughout the years, keeping up the same energy.
“Over the years Soldiers’ Theatre has provided an opportunity allowing me to express myself artistically, bring a smile, a tear, or maybe a new perspective on life to our community,” said Mike Leahy. “It is a means of providing an escape from our hectic lives, both for those providing the entertainment but also for those who come to watch.”
Soldiers’ Theatre volunteers recognized for the 2021 President’s Volunteer Award are:
Brian Andries, Marissa Blake, Johnniecia Corwise, Memphis Jones, Michael Leahy, Alicia Mangers (Civilian spouse volunteer of the year), Alphonso Ortiz, Martin Sinlao, Chance Wilson and Grace Yeuell.