Celebrating 25 years, organizers of the Palm Springs International Film Festival attribute much of the event’s success to volunteers that work tirelessly through the holidays. Hundreds of them will do it again – many for their 10th or 20th year – in time to roll out the red carpet for opening night January 3. A $25,000 grant from the Auen Foundation helps to fund the recruitment, training, management and retention of nearly 600 volunteers that are part of the Festival’s Senior and Active Retirement Program.
“To say that our volunteers are an invaluable resource is quite an understatement,” said Harriet Baron, Director of Development for the Palm Springs International Film Society, which produces both the International Film Festival in January and the Palm Springs International ShortFest, which is held in June.
Prior to the Festival, volunteers assist the small, year-round staff by answering phones, performing clerical functions, distributing posters and rack cards and in the programming department, cataloguing entries. Once the City’s premier event is underway, a complex scheduling system ensures that volunteers are taking tickets at every screening, counting ballots for the Audience Awards, welcoming guests at Festival parties and special events and making everyone feel like a VIP at the Awards Gala. For the third year, Rochelle Koch is returning as a member of the seasonal staff serving as the Festival Volunteer Coordinator.
“Although they are seasonal positions, in the months leading up to the Festival and, of course while it’s ongoing, our Volunteer Coordinator and her assistant are two of the busiest people on staff, with a volunteer corps of over 600 dedicated volunteers to assemble and train,” said Darryl Macdonald, Executive and Festival Director of both festivals. “We deeply appreciate the support of an astute funder such as the Auen Foundation. They not only understand the importance of volunteers in the day-to-day operation of the Festivals, they also recognize the essential role of the Volunteer Coordinator.”
The Auen Foundation grant is applied to the Volunteer Program and also partially underwrites the distribution of free screening tickets to local seniors.
“The free tickets and the Festival’s free shuttle bus provide our local seniors more access to this world-class event,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director for the Auen Foundation. “Even with the Festival at five area theatres, transportation is often an issue for seniors on fixed incomes, many of whom cannot drive. We are happy to see this partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival enriching the lives of our senior neighbors.”
The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival runs January 3–13, 2014, screening more than 187 films from 60 countries. The Awards Gala, honoring the year’s cinematic achievements both in front and behind the camera, will again welcome some of Hollywood’s most celebrated talents. For more information about the Palm Springs International Film Festival or how to volunteer visit www.psfilmfest.org or call 760–322-2930 or 800–898-7256.
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