Venice Theatre honors volunteers virtually

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Venice Theatre’s Virtual Volunteer Party a hit

Awards were given to 14 volunteers while community watched on YouTube

Venice Theatre’s Front of House Manager Jeff Hyde presents a virtual volunteer award
(Venice, FL) Venice Theatre’s annual volunteer appreciation party was not canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, Venice Theatre staff members produced an awards video which was aired on the theatre’s YouTube channel. The video can be watched at

At last count, the video had 659 views, a couple hundred more than the number of people who could fit in the venue for an in-person party. Executive Producing Director Murray Chase served as the virtual master of ceremonieswhile more than a dozen awards were presented to volunteers via Zoom.

Although nothing can be compared to hundreds of volunteers gathering together in person, hugs all around, volunteers did express their appreciation of the effort with comments such as:

  • Love this video format. Especially enjoy hearing the stories of young people who’ve grown so much through participating in the programs of Venice Theatre. Very impressive! ~ Evan F. on YouTube
  • This is wonderful. First time having people in my home. Couldn’t be happier. Hope to be back soon to my volunteering in my 17th Year… Congrats to all honored volunteers! Jean S. on YouTube
  • It was especially nice to hear from the award recipients about themselves; their backgrounds, experiences, and what drives them to make VT a home away from home. I am also sure everyone is looking forward to returning so we can, once again, create, share, and enjoy our mutual love of theatre and each other. I know I am. ~ Kitty L., via email

Several graduating high school seniors were recognized for their achievements at the theatre, many of them sharing self-made videos about the impact the theatre has made on their young lives. On the other end of the age spectrum, long-time volunteer Shirley Gawne was recognized in a tribute video commemorating her one hundredth birthday.

The virtual volunteer party ended with a slide show featuring production photos from each show that was presented this season.

A list of those honored during the ceremony follows.

  • The Nancy Bloomquist Award for exemplary service in front-of-house management was given to Diane Distefano Nist and Frank NIst.
  • The Kathryn Killinger Award for distinguished service to Venice Theatre’s education mission was given to Regina Cahill.
  • The VT Teen Award for serving as an example of dynamic youth participation was given to Sophia Coscia and Casey Berkery.
  • The “Guilda,” accompanied by a cash gift of $1,000 from the Venice Theatre Guild was presented to Jenna Fisher.
  • The Chris Magee Technical Award for outstanding service in theatre production was given to Ken Strom.
  • The Joan Dillon Costume Shop Award was given to Jane McCormack.
  • The Joey Hodgini Award honoring a crew member who embodies the spirit of community theatre was given to Bill Claiborn.
  • The Charles Finley Award honoring an actor who exemplifies the spirit of community theatre on and off stage was given to Stacy Gilson.
  • The Bob Mosher “Unsung Hero” Award in recognition of a volunteer whose contributions are important, but rarely seen, was given to Debbie Polk.
  • The President’s Award for exemplary display of performance above and beyond the call of duty in a single season in more than one aspect of the theatre was given to Bill and Pat Saro.
  • Barry Sullivan was honored with the Alice & Squiffy Smith Award as a volunteer whose lifetime service exemplifies VT’s mission and has been integral to the development of the theatre.
  • The theatre had an abundance of graduating seniors to recognize this year. They are:
    • Bailey Scott
    • Beckett Pfanmiller
    • Belle Babcock
    • Chloe Daugherty
    • Grace Denney
    • Gregory Karcz
    • Jack Kaiser
    • James McGirr
    • Jenna Fisher
    • Jillian Alexander
    • Karena Dillon-Angelakis
    • Kemper Bernstein
    • Natalie Taylor
    • Noah Roderiques
    • Nathan Oss
    • Pria Pankhaniya
    • Sabrina Murdocca
    • Samantha Crawford
    • Sarah Conte

About Venice Theatre

Venice Theatre is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making a dramatic impact on all stages of life. The second-largest of 10,000 community theatres in the United States, it is located at 140 Tampa Ave. W. in Venice, FL. Its Jervey Theatre offers seating for 432 patrons and features musicals, plays, concerts and special events. Its Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre seats 90 patrons and is home to the theatre’s Stage 2 Series and Cabaret Festival. In addition to providing entertainment to the community, Venice Theatre offers a wide range of education and outreach programs for children and adults.

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