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Look for the Blue Vest

Volunteers are Vital to Kauffman Center’s Success

Volunteer Terri Curran pumps up students during a recent school matinee. On average, there are more than 30 school matinees each year that require volunteer support. Photo by Brittany Zarco

On average, more than 500 volunteers contribute 51,000 hours annually to the Center. While most volunteers do not have formal customer service experience, their diverse backgrounds, cultures and previous professions create an inclusive and friendly environment. Around every corner is a smiling face and helping hand. Volunteers are easy to spot in their iconic blue vests, and they carry out a variety of tasks at performances, from taking tickets to greeting guests, to assisting with security screenings.

When asked why he chose to begin volunteering at the Kauffman Center Mark Gardner said, “…because the arts are a vital part of a thriving Kansas City, and I want to help. I love and look forward to working with the staff, the volunteers … where else can you have such a memorable impact on so many people in an evening? It is quite amazing!”

Howard Pitler, Mark Dickerson, Mark Gardner and Dennis Connor have some fun during the holiday season. In December alone, volunteers work an average of 5 shifts for a total of more than 1,900 shifts worked. Photo by Jenny DeFreece

About 60 volunteers are needed to help run each performance, and often the Kauffman Center will have two performances running simultaneously, requiring even more volunteer support. Events are scheduled around the clock, including daytime matinees and evening, weekday and weekend performances, providing volunteer opportunities that fit every schedule. Volunteers who work at least 15 shifts a year are considered “active” members meaning that they are invited to attend special events and receive additional perks throughout the season.

One of the perks granted to active volunteers is an invitation to the annual Volunteer Ice Cream Social and Trivia Night, which takes place during Volunteer Appreciation Month in April. At this event, volunteers are treated to snacks, games and prizes. Prizes, donated by local businesses, can vary from gift cards, to concert/sporting tickets, to memberships to local attractions. Additionally, each summer, a Volunteer Recognition Event is held, and five volunteers who exhibited the highest level of professional, positive and exceptional customer service that season are awarded the Kauffman Spirit Award. These individuals will have made a significant contribution to our mission to “create devoted constituents and enhance the satisfaction for all who come to the Kauffman Center.” They are recognized for serving each patron with dignity and respect. Chairman of the Kauffman Center Board, Julia Irene Kauffman, presents this award annually and to date has bestowed the award to 40 deserving volunteers.

Kauffman Spirit Award winners with Chairman of the Board Julia Irene Kauffman and President & CEO Paul Schofer. (Left to right) Jennifer Wehmeyer, Mark Gardner, Julia Irene Kauffman, Carolyn Curtis, Nancy Rhoades, Phil Caldarella and Paul Schofer. Photo by David Riffel

“Receiving one of the Kauffman Spirit Awards was truly one of the highlights of my life,” said 2019 Kauffman Spirit Award Winner Phil Caldarella. “To be recognized for my service at the Kauffman Center with this prestigious award was a true blessing and honor. It is a reflection of my job in making the Kauffman Center patron experience the best that it can be. Being recognized in front of my fellow volunteers, the team captains, the team leads, the patron services team and the executive staff is something I will always treasure. Finally, to have this award presented to me by our distinguished Chairman of the Board, Julia Irene Kauffman, made it even more special and rewarding. I am truly blessed to be a part of the Kauffman Center family.”

The dedication displayed by volunteers is astounding, and the Kauffman Center distinguishes its volunteers by the total number of hours an individual has donated to the Center. There are six levels:

  • Active (less than 100 hours) – currently 90 volunteers at this level
  • Bronze (100 volunteer hours) – currently 108 volunteers at this level
  • Silver (250 volunteer hours) – currently 124 volunteers at this level
  • Gold (500 volunteer hours) – currently 84 volunteers at this level
  • Royal (1,000 volunteer hours) – currently 86 volunteers at this level
  • Diamond (2,500+ volunteer hours) – currently 11 volunteers at this level

Members who have devoted thousands of hours to the Center are honored with additional perks. Royal Volunteers get their name added on a plaque displayed in the volunteer office and are invited to a special reception before the Volunteer Recognition Event in July. Volunteers who reach Diamond status are given a “performance night out” package including two tickets to a performance, valet parking, dinner for two, a meet and greet with a performer, and two complimentary Kauffman bar beverages. In addition, every fall, the Kauffman Center hosts a luncheon for volunteers who have been with the Center for five seasons.

A group of volunteers show their KC pride during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run in January 2020. Photo by Jenny DeFreece

Volunteer recruitment takes place once a year. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, should be comfortable working with a variety of individuals and be able to treat all volunteers, team members and guests with dignity and respect at all times. If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer, please email to be placed on the contact list and have an application emailed directly to you. Or visit the volunteer page on the Kauffman Center website.

The Kauffman Center is thankful for all the hard work volunteers put into making a visit to the Center memorable for patrons each season. Their smiling faces and warm personalities are instrumental in providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who visit the Center. As the Kauffman Center approaches its 10-year anniversary, it is evident that our volunteers are indispensable to the Center’s success.

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