This week at NDW we talked about community. We had a guest come in from the Natick Service Council who explained what the NSC does and how NDW can, has, and will help. NDW, over the past few years in particular, has really put itself out there as a community organization. By extension, anyone connected to NDW is now connected to the community in a way that goes beyond a home address.
I talk a lot about what the ‘community’ in community theater means and how Natick Drama Workshop is like the ultimate community theater program for kids (as well as parents!), but this is a different kind of community. Usually, I discuss the bond that our members form and how we are our own little community. With our food drive and annual telethon appearance we are more than just a community of people. Rather, we are a group of people within a community. And, more importantly, we are a group of people who help the community that supports NDW. It’s all very full-circle!
We have been doing a food drive, at least once a year, since longer than my adult tenure at NDW. When I rejoined Natick Drama Workshop as a staff member we did a Super Bowl themed food drive once a year through our then musical director’s church. I’m not sure how long that had been going on before I got back to NDW. I certainly don’t remember doing it as a kid, but maybe we did and I just forgot about it. At some point, we stopped doing that and started collecting food and other items for the Natick Service Council once per show. That is also when we started doing things by mentor group.
At first it was mentor group versus mentor group in a way that ended up not being fair to everyone, but ended up with great results. Instead of putting all the donation items together in one big pile, the kids would add the items they brought to individual mentor group piles. The group that brought in the most items won. This extra competition always brought us a ton of donation items. However, there were two problems with this competition: not everyone was able to bring in more than a couple items and siblings would have to split donations. Some mentor groups would have a couple kids that wouldn’t be able to bring in a lot, or would have a couple of kids who brought in over 50 items each. It wasn’t fair and it created a competition that, although spirited, was not in the NDW spirit.
Now, as many of you know, our competition starts everyone off at the same place. All donations are put together and each mentor group guesses how many items are in the big pile. You know, like the jelly beans in a jar contest. The only disadvantage to this is that we’ve been getting fewer and fewer items the past couple of years. It is a shame that a competition that brings out the worst in people got us better results in helping out our fellow community members, but I digress.
Whichever mentor group wins, gets to eat first at our breakfast buffet, and can choose to get a sneak peek at the set. I like to think that everyone wins though. First of all, we now have a breakfast buffet! (Granted, it is at snack time…) Second, and really, more important than the first, everyone contributes to the community. There’s a really nice feeling that comes from helping out your fellow man.
So, as we get closer to our show dates, remember that not only is NDW a community, but we are also part of a larger community. One that helps us as much as we hope to help them.
See you Saturday,