When West Windsor Arts’ staff reviewed the list of volunteers for the past year of shutdowns and pivots, they didn’t expect to come up with 127 names.
This number represents individuals willing to give their time and energy by stepping up to meet the challenges of our times through the arts.
It took some innovative ideas to keep volunteers engaged through projects like the Art Against Racism community art installation, sewing face masks to donate to frontline workers, creating online galleries and receptions, and sending joy and encouragement by decorating Art Kit bags for classes and camps.
In addition, the Board of Trustees and other committee members including the External Affairs Committee, Internal Affairs Committee, Governance, and the Exhibition Committee went above and beyond in contributing time and expertise on such projects as virtual gala planning, grant and loan applications, and other fundraising drives.
All of this enabled West Windsor Arts to do a quick pivot from in-person to online everything, keeping programming relevant during an uncertain time.
As part of National Volunteer Week, West Windsor Arts is honoring three very dedicated individuals whose service this past year was extraordinary, awarding them the Volunteers of the Year award.
Barbara Weinfield of West Windsor and Doreen Garelick of Princeton Junction are recognized for their steadfastness in a difficult time, and their keen perception of the needs of the community.
High school student Samhita Ghosh is recognized for the range of services she provided, taking on any and all special projects we had to offer.
Weinfield first got involved as a student, studying oil painting with Zakia Ahmed where she found inspiration not only from her teacher and fellow students, but from the gallery outside the classroom. After class, they would often view and discuss the paintings on display, and she began wondering how art exhibits are developed and curated.
Weinfield soon joined the Exhibition Committee. Her involvement has encompassed everything from data entry of exhibition pieces, to prospectus writing, to coming up with thematic concepts for exhibitions. There have been unforeseen tasks as well.
In 2020, like every other arts organization, the Exhibition Committee had to develop innovative ways of sharing art with the community. This challenge ushered in, among other things, the birth of the Virtual Opening Reception.
When the doors of the West Windsor Arts Center opened in 2010, Doreen Garelick and her daughter, who was then 15, were among its new volunteers. Their first project was setting up 100 folding chairs for a live performance in the gallery space.
Four years later, Garelick was elected to the Board of Trustees and since then has served as a member of its Governance Committee, as well as the board secretary for all but one of the past seven years.
The highlights of her work at West Windsor Arts include writing policies that guide the non-profit as it fulfills its mission and grant applications that fund important organizational growth projects.
She was also one of the founders of the mARTian Project, which is a creative place-making initiative that combines public art with West Windsor’s unique local history. When asked what motivates her support for West Windsor Arts, Garelick replied, “Having a thriving arts center builds stronger community identity, develops connections among a broad group of neighbors, and encourages individual creativity. It’s generated countless uplifting and rewarding experiences for our students and patrons.”
Samhita Ghosh, a junior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, has been volunteering as part of West Windsor Arts’ Special Events Crew since July 2019.
She has helped out with a variety of events and activities like decorating art kits, the Art Against Racism project, and art show receptions.
Samhita’s most memorable volunteer activity was the WWArts Mask Donation project, as it provided a way to directly help out affected communities during the pandemic.
Samhita said, “It has not only provided valuable interpersonal skills but also so many opportunities to connect art and service. Before working with the West Windsor Arts Council, I didn’t think it was possible to use art to help the community, but now I know that’s not true, and I’m grateful to be a part of this experience.”
All members of the community are welcome to join this vital team. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org/volunteer.