The 2018 Dodge Poetry Festival was about more than poetry; it was about teamwork.
The NJPAC volunteer leadership team worked with the staff of the Dodge Poetry Staff for six months leading up to the festival to be sure dozens of presenting poets and thousands of their fans were well taken care of during this four-day marathon of literary events.
Many of the ladies on this five-woman team have staffed the four previous festivals held at NJPAC, and are active at the Arts Center in their "off" time all year long.
Want to meet them? Let’s start with Mada Liebman. Mada worked as an aide to both Senator Frank Lautenberg and Senator, then Governor, Jon Corzine in a post that made her aware of NJPAC well before its stages were built. After retiring in 2010, Mada jumped in with both feet as an NJPAC volunteer and has been active in Community Engagement and Arts Education, as well as on other committees. She sees NJPAC as a community anchor. "It has a variety of programs, such as Jazz for Teens and the summer programs, which bring together families,” she says.
After 37 years of managing the needs for planes, helicopters and other corporate executive services for the executives of Prudential Insurance, Jeannette Marable has organized volunteer needs for the Dodge Poetry Festival, for four festivals and counting!
"There was a lot of excitement, what with the power outage over the weekend, but the fast response from NJPAC and the Dodge Poetry Festival staff was great and I haven't heard any negative comments,” Jeannette says.
“We had such great volunteers in core positions that we were able to attend to additional requests. Things always change and we were able to accommodate and work with all of our volunteers, the patrons and the needs of the festival."
When not working on the festival, you can find Jeanette organizing NJPAC volunteers for Jazz for Teens and other AED programs, staffing the Customer Information Center, at Development and Membership events and Community Engagement as well as coordinating the Essex Chapter of Community Reads and Retirees Offering Community Services (ROCS).
"I loved my job and the people I worked with,” says Joan Lowery of her 37 years working in Human Resources at Prudential Insurance. That holds true for her 20 years as an NJPAC volunteer, too.
"Volunteering with NJPAC is rewarding. First and foremost, it is fun! I learn so much! I'm having fun and giving back," she says. Joan has been volunteering with Jazz for Teens, as a Tour Guide, and in every role possible involving Guest Services. She's also active with NJ Cares, NJ Community FoodBank, Blessed Sacrament/ St. Charles Borromeo Food Pantry, and with Retirees Offering Community Services (ROCS)."
“I never saw Newark so vibrant as during the poetry festival. This year I found the students to really engage with the poets. Great questions were asked! “She says. “I can't wait till 2020!"
Meanwhile, Jennifer Reynolds, the newest member of the planning team, has been volunteering in a variety of roles over the past three years with NJPAC. She’s volunteered at Arts Education and Community Engagement events, worked the photo booth, and in administrative offices as well as on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival and the “mini festival” in 2017.
Jennifer's giving spirit also extends to volunteer work with hospice, her church and the Paterson Public School System, where she served as a teacher and principal for more than 27 years.
"I was impressed with how the NJPAC staff went into action when dealing with the power-outage. Their communication was consistent and smooth. They operated calmly and effectively when the evacuation was called,” she says.
“I enjoyed being a part of this year's festival and felt that, despite the situation, everyone came together in the spirit of community. I hope to be part of the festival when it returns in two years."
Amy Tenzer had spent 20 years working with executives as an organizational psychologist, and dedicated time to the National Executive Service Corps, providing support for nonprofits. When Dena Lowenbach, founding NJPAC volunteer, called Amy more than 20 years ago to join a new team at the Arts Center, Amy said "Yes!"
Since then Amy has served on special projects and various committees, but the Dodge Poetry Festivals have been highlights of her time here.
"As an aspiring poet, I appreciate the art form and love the collaboration between NJPAC and the Dodge Poetry Festival staff. We work well together. I love the diversity NJPAC reflects; of the art, the people, the blending of cultures, everything. It makes me happy when I'm at the PAC,” she says.