Voluntary RE:action

sponsored by Grand Rapids Community Foundation 

Volunteer Spotlight: Duane and Kaye Davis 

“Making an Ugly World Better with Music”

The notes are still the same.

But there’s always another song to sing, a piece to play and someone out there with whom to share it.

That’s the philosophy guiding Duane and Kaye Davis for the lifetimes of music they’ve chosen to provide the rest of us — as performers, teachers and mentors to generations of men, women and children.

“How I want to be remembered?” Kaye muses. “That I passed it on.”

And Duane? “That you can be changed by what you choose to do. How music can bathe the ugly. That it heals.”

Wisdom for the ages, culled from combined careers that total more than 90 years, and manifested in everything from participating to directing everything from plays to symphonies and choruses to orchestras.

He was raised in Cleveland, realizing by his middle school years that he was drawn to singing. She grew up in Virginia, sensing at an even younger age that the piano called out to her in special ways.

They found themselves as freshmen together at Knoxville College in Tennessee and their friendship eventually blossomed into a marriage now spanning 47 years.

Music and the arts have been the common denominators and helped to fuse their three children to them as well; one holds degrees in German and art and the other two are devoted professionally to piano and percussion.

Both retired in 2009 from long and distinguished careers teaching for the Grand Rapids Public Schools. In the last seven years, they’ve created encores that reach out in different ways to different audiences; they’ve affected thousands of students over the last 50 years.

Duane, who served as director of choral music at Creston High School for 14 years and directed vocal and choral music at Grand Rapids Community College for 27 years, now commutes between the couple’s Grand Rapids home and Indiana University, where he is visiting professor of jazz and choral music.

Kaye served Grand Rapids schools for nearly 29 years as a specialist working mainly in inner-city classrooms. Then, in 2011, she founded the Grand Rapids African American Youth Chorus, which showcases area children at venues all over West Michigan.

“We have been changed by what we do,” Duane said. “Music can make this ugly world better and we can become instruments of what is good and right and what should be.”

Local Volunteer Opportunities 

Your opportunity awaits. Pick a role and react voluntarily.

The Dance-Lover

Channel your love for performance art by joining En Pointe, a volunteer group at Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB). As a member, you’ll have the opportunity to user shows, manage the in-house boutique and plan special events.

Take Action: Contact the Grand Rapids Ballet at (616) 454-4771 or by email at info@grballet.com.

The Book-Lover

The Grand Rapids Public Library is searching for bookworms and history buffs to volunteer in the Special Collections Department. Help create library catalogs, work on specific research projects and process the library’s historical collections.

Take Action: Contact the Grand Rapids Public Library at (616) 988-5400.

The Animal-Lover

The Humane Society of West Michigan invites pet-loving volunteers to become adoption counselors. Help match a pet with the right family and make sure the family is fully prepared for their new furry arrival.

Take Action: Contact Ashley Dahl, volunteer and programs manager, at (616) 791-8088 or by email at adahl@hswestmi.org.

The Performance-Lover

Do you have an interest in opera production? Take the stage at Opera Grand Rapids as a light walker. Assist the lighting designer by sitting, standing and walking on stage while the lighting is adjusted for each scene. Each volunteer light walker gets a complimentary ticket to the show they are helping with!

Take Action: Contact Opera Grand Rapids at (616) 451-2741.

The Food-Lover

Do you have whole food cooking experience? Loan your expertise to the Revive and Thrive Project in Grand Rapids and become an adult mentor chef. Guide young volunteers in the kitchen to create healthy, nourishing meals for families in the community dealing with serious illnesses.

Take Action: Contact Wendy Borden, executive director, at (616) 581-4103 or by email at wendy@reviveandthriveproject.org.

The Art-Lover

Get creative at Arts in Motion by volunteering as an art class teaching aid. Share your time and artistic ability with group art classes or spend time with an individual guest who needs some extra support in their learning experience.

Take Action: Contact Arts in Motion at (616) 446-7452.

The Nature-Lover

Keep in touch with nature by volunteering as an outdoor educator and maple-syrup collector at Blandford Nature Center while they gear up for Sugarbush season. As an outdoor educator, you’ll inform guests about the history of maple syrup along the Sugarbush trail and help collect maple sap from trees to cook down to syrup in the Sugar House. Register to be a volunteer at www.blandfordnaturecenter.org/volunteer.

Take Action: Contact Katelyn at (616) 735-0207, ext. 22 or by email at volunteer@blandfordnaturecenter.org.

The People-Lover

Flat Reach Outreach Ministries (FROM) is looking for friendly, charismatic volunteers to join their team. Volunteers will have a chance to engage with the community by greeting visitors at the main office or helping out in the Treasures Thrift Shop by stocking merchandise, pricing items and taking shifts at the cash register.

Take Action: Contact (616) 897-8260 or email dianek@fromlowell.org.

The Laugh-Lover

Hone in on humor with Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids. The 10-day festival of funny, beginning March 9, is looking for volunteers to assist with a wide variety of duties during all LaughFest events.

Take Action: Contact Tyler Lecceadone at (616) 776-3511 or by email at lecceadone@seyferthpr.com

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