Participate in arts engagement programs as a Tidewater Arts Outreach volunteer


Many volunteers over many years.  Volunteers contribute more bottom-line value to the agency than annual contributions and we cannot thank them enough for their support.  

By Anna Fitzgerald, Tidewater Arts Outreach Volunteer Program Director

If you are like me, you can pinpoint your first time volunteering and how it shaped your perspective. I was 14 and my grandmother, who was from a small province in Mexico, brought me along to teach English at a community center in Los Angeles. She ‘gave back’ out of her desire to help others speak and write the language of America, her new and much-loved homeland.  My grandma spoke perfect English; no one would guess it was her second language and she had only a high school education.

I approached that first volunteer experience with trepidation and I doubted my abilities as a teacher.  I was scared to help the students (Armenian, Chinese, Korean, German) with exact pronunciation.  To my surprise, the group enthusiastically welcomed me to their classroom as a “native” speaker.  After that, I was empowered to know that, young as I was, I could make a difference and had something wonderful to offer the world.

As Volunteer Program Director for Tidewater Arts Outreach, I work to engage people from all walks of life, in every aspect of the organization, from board service to serving beer at special events.  Tidewater Arts Outreach’s work could not be done without the support of hundreds of volunteers.  Some volunteers serve a little; some serve a lot.  A variety of projects have been created to reflect that diversity.  We can’t stress it enough:  our volunteers are immensely appreciated.  

We have a need for community volunteers to serve as Program Hosts at our one-hour arts programs.

Program hosts see our mission in action.  They are involved in the arts activity, right alongside participants, so we ask hosts to be prepared to paint, sing, dance, hold hands and share some of their own joy with others.   We want them to enjoy, observe and reflect back to us their impressions via a survey.

Our goal is to to have Program Hosts at all of our events with elders.  To plug into this opportunity, check our online Program Calendar for dates and email me to set up a time to meet.  Program Hosts are oriented and receive written, detailed emails for each program they attend, with date/time, staff and artist contacts, program address and description. Finally, staff or a seasoned program host will be onsite with first-time Program Host volunteers.

Here are some more reasons to be a volunteer with Tidewater Arts Outreach:

  • You learn about how creative engagement enhances quality of life in many areas
  • You get to spend time with fun people doing fun and interesting things
  • TAO’s impact is big and it’s also easy to see. It is broadly evident in smiles, songs, comments, tears and extended hands and hugs, every week, at dozens of location in seven Hampton Roads cities.
  • We have experience. We’ve hosted more than 2500 programs since 2003, reaching thousands and thousands of people each year. 
  • The special events. Instruments of Art and the Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Festival are fun events to plan and work!
  • The need. There are thousands of people living in isolation with disabling conditions.  With our rapidly aging population, the need is only getting greater.  

As I settle into my role in recruiting and supporting volunteers, I am honored to see and meet so many people who feel the same sense of purpose and reward as I do, when it comes to Tidewater Arts Outreach and the value of volunteering.

Thank you for bringing your unique skills, experiences and qualities to our special clients.  I can’t wait to meet you at a program or our next event!

In service,

Anna Fitzgerald
Volunteer Program Director


A little research on Volunteering:

Researchers have found that when patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care. (Arnstein et al., 2002; Sullivan and Sullivan, 1997) [Source:]

In a study by professor Cassie Mogilner, it turns out volunteering can help us feel we have more time!  “…The explanation that emerged in our research is that people who give time feel more capable, confident, and useful. They feel they’ve accomplished something and, therefore, that they can accomplish more in the future.” [Source: Professor Cassi Mogilner, Harvard Business Review ]