What brought Studio City’s healthy volunteerism center stage last weekend? I went to the reenactment of the Treaty of Cahuenga (January 12, 1846) ceremony at the Campo De Cahuenga this past weekend. The annual event has garnered a lot of coverage, so I won’t rehash those details.
But my eye was caught by something else. Sprinkled throughout the crowd were people dressed in period costumes. My history buff antennae were vibrating. So I approached two gentlemen dressed in period top hats and tails. They stood in character, proud and erect, emanating a sense of dignity. Dana Amann and Ray Shinn, the costumed guests, were happy to tell me the “how and why” they were at the event. No they were not a part of the formal program. They were “interpretative volunteers” with the Heritage Square Museum which explores the settlement and development of Southern California during its first 100 years of statehood. Eight original exemplary structures have been relocated to the open air museum grounds. “They serve as the perfect background to educate the public about the everyday lives of Southern Californians.”
Dana and Ray volunteer at the Heritage Square Museum, but also display their costumes when attending and participating in events where they learn about the interconnection between people, places and the history of Los Angeles. They point out that there were few Californio families living in and around Los Angeles in the late 1800s, so the connections among them were strong, but not self-evident in today’s bustling Los Angeles.
Their enthusiasm for the volunteer work they do is infectious. It made me realize just how embedded volunteerism is into the fabric of Studio City. The Campo's celebration was organized and staffed by volunteers. Familiar volunteer faces at the event were happily chatting with friends. I started mentally indexing all the volunteer supported events there actually are in Studio City over a year’s time. It’s an astounding number.
So why do people volunteer, while others “can’t be bothered?” Volunteers connect with subjects that interest them. They get to expand their knowledge. Volunteers can “make changes”. Who out there doesn’t have a pet peeve? If you see something and it bothers you, do something about it. Think of all the ways volunteer groups have enhanced your quality of life. I really can’t think of a good reason not to volunteer other than laziness.
Those non-volunteers out there need to take inventory. You’ll gladly take but never give back? Studio City may not be a good choice for you. You’ll be constantly confronted by others who roll up their sleeves.