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Courtesy Center in the Square
Christine Jordan (from left) Winnie Bloom, Margaret Zerbst, Ruth DeVerter, Margaret Ann Hoag, Barbara Nesmith and Eula Rosenberg.
P. Buckley Moss
Sunday, September 8, 2013
The Athenian Society for the Arts and Sciences has been helping Center in the Square with its day-to-day operations since the downtown Roanoke institution opened in 1983. But the Athenians, as they call themselves, were pitching in even before Center opened.
The group formed in 1980.
“We were a group of lonely ladies,” joked charter member Margaret Ann Hoag. “We were all interested in arts and sciences.”
Now that Center has been renovated , with its atrium open every day to give visitors access to six large aquariums, the Athenians could use a bit more help .
The group has 90 members, and about 30 of them are manning Center in the Square’s information desk, said Center Volunteer Program Coordinator Kathleen Fort. In addition, Center has about 30 “Tank Team” docents to answer questions about the aquariums and a few more who serve as attendants on the rooftop.
However, Center needs to fill about 100 information desk shifts a month, 100 “Tank Team” shifts and 60 rooftop guides. Many of these openings remain unfilled, Fort said.
The Athenians will hold a prospective member coffee meeting at 10 a.m. Sept. 19 in the community room at the WDBJ Television Broadcast Center at 2807 Hershberger Road in Roanoke. The group meets there at 10 a.m. the third Thursday of each month and usually hosts a guest speaker.
Though members have tended to be women, the group puts no restrictions on membership by gender. Men can join, and sometimes couples have joined as teams.
Fort stressed that it’s not necessary for someone to join the Athenians to help with the information desk — but traditionally the Athenians have filled those roles. “My Athenians have always been our ambassadors for Center,” Fort said.
In fact, six of the Athenians who cover the information desk have been doing so since Center first opened. Five of them are charter members.
“It was the same kind of excitement that we feel now,” Eula Rosenberger said of the first opening in 1983. But the new version of the lobby is busier, with children dashing from aquarium to aquarium, and more modern (there are iPads mounted on stands with information about the aquariums’ denizens).
“I love it on a Saturday. It’s hectic,” said membership chairwoman Barbara Nesmith.
Jim Sears, the Center’s president and general manager, said the Athenians’ contribution over the years has been invaluable.
“From the beginning the Athenians have been very important to Center,” Sears said. “We would not have had anyone in the atrium. Center could not have afforded to do that.”
The Athenians often end up talking to out-of-town visitors, introducing them not just to Center, but to Roanoke in general. Charter member Margaret Zerbst recalled meeting a couple from Boston at Center, then running into them again at church the following Sunday.
“We really are ambassadors to the valley,” Nesmith said.
For more information on Center’s volunteer needs contact Fort at 224-1216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roanoke artist showcase
Jefferson Center in Roanoke will showcase and sell art from the League of Roanoke Artists until Oct. 25. Founded in 1958, the league holds meetings, art demonstrations, artist retreats and shows with a goal of creating opportunities for artists to show and improve their work. League Second Vice President Linda Schaar said the organization has 143 members.
An awards reception will take place at 2 p.m. today in the Jefferson Center atrium. The show has been judged by Amy Moorefield, director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, who starts work as the Taubman Museum of Art’s deputy director of exhibitions later this month.
For more information visit www.leagueofroanokeartists.com.
Radical Reels returns
On Wednesday, the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s Radical Reels tour returns to Jefferson Center for the fifth consecutive year . The festival features an assortment of short films about extreme outdoor sports.
The festival begins at 5 p.m. with an Outdoor Expo from regional outdoors-related businesses. The film screening starts at 6:30 p.m. The event is free with the donation of a nonperishable food item.
Virginia Tech names Moss outreach fellow
Virginia Tech has announced that Waynesboro artist P. Buckley Moss has been named a fellow of the university’s Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement and its outreach programs.
Moss will assist in Tech’s economic development efforts in Southwest and Southside Virginia and lend expertise as an advocate of incorporating the arts into education programs, according to a statement released by the university.
On the Arts blog
From Sept. 26-28, “Not So Silent Cinema” will play scores to Buster Keaton films in Roanoke, Floyd and Blacksburg. More at blogs.roanoke.com/arts.
Weather JournalMix on Sat AM; coming blog changes