If you’ve been to any major event at Baltimore School for the Arts during the past year, you’ve probably seen Colleen Hanley and Stephanie Thacker – selling tickets at The Nutcracker, greeting guests at Expressions, or problem-solving at TWIGS auditions. They’re also on campus several days a week, running the school store, filing donor correspondence, or preparing a fundraising appeal.
You can spot them by their easy laughter and generous smiles. They’re an irreplaceable part of the BSA team, their enormous contributions made ever the more extraordinary by the fact their work is on a volunteer basis.
“I saw a need,” Hanley said.
Hanley has been serving the school ever since her daughter Jaiden, now a sophomore in the Dance Department, was a 9-year-old TWIGS student. One day during Jaiden’s freshmen year, Colleen walked into the BSA Foundation office and spotted a large pile that needed to be filed. When she asked who was going to do it, she was told nobody.
“I said ‘OK,’ and I took the basket,” Hanley says.
Jaiden was homeschooled, and her attendance at BSA created free time in Colleen’s schedule, enabling her to be an active volunteer.
Thacker also homeschooled her daughter Jayla, who is now a freshman in the Dance Department, and was looking for ways to contribute after her daughter started public school. She and Hanley became fast friends and collaborators, and are currently in the process of organizing an end-of-the-year barbeque for the students on June 1.
“I get joy from serving the kids,” said Thacker. “I wanted to do the barbeque to make them feel loved and special and valued.”
“Parents have been saying thank you for organizing this,” Thacker added. “All of the parents had these great ideas to do things but they didn’t have the time. Well, we have the time so why not go forth and do this?”
Hanley said the best part of the job was looking at the impact their work has—seeing the smiles on everybody’s faces, from the development staff, to the teachers, to the students and parents.
“This is like a second home,” she says. “This is like your whole community, too.”