Meet Crystal Bridges volunteer Jann Pittman!
I have had three major careers in my life. The first was in advertising/marketing/public relations, starting in Louisiana where I grew up and ending about 15 years later in Alaska. I got tired of that work and went back to school to get an advanced degree so I could be a mental health counselor. I worked in that field for many years, focusing primarily on addictions (drugs/alcohol/eating disorders) while in Alaska. I lived in Austin, Texas, for two years and worked as a counselor/therapist for people living and dying with AIDS. That was some of the most rewarding work I ever did. My final full-time career was in nonprofit management, starting in Alaska, then Washington DC, Louisiana, and finally Oregon. After my first six-month “retirement,” I worked part time in Volunteer Management in Oregon and then in Arkansas.
I enjoy exercising, reading, movies, playing bridge, cooking, and volunteering. I am interested in animal welfare and have volunteered in that capacity in the past. I am also interested in senior issues and have served as a Volunteer Ombudsman. I am active in my church, serving as a Pulpit Assistant and as an occasional guest speaker. Volunteering at Crystal Bridges has become one of my favorite pastimes and I am eager to begin Gallery Guide and Sculpture Guide Training.
Favorite artwork/space at Crystal Bridges:
The Museum Store is one of my favorite spaces in the museum. Everything is always fresh and new; the staff are so welcoming; I am eager to visit and shop each time I am on the museum grounds. My favorite work of art is Duane Hanson’s Man on a Bench. The first time I saw it I remember thinking how odd it was that a man would be sitting there in the gallery; I thought for sure he was real. I also find Max Ferguson’s Time very compelling. We have a small print of it hanging in our house to remind us that time is precious.
How did you learn about Crystal Bridges?
My husband David Ricciardelli and I moved to Bella Vista from Little Rock in the fall of 2014 so that we could get involved with Crystal Bridges. We first learned about the museum from reading about it in the Arkansas Daily Gazette in Little Rock. This was about the time the 21c Museum Hotel opened, so we came to Bentonville to visit both. We enjoyed the museum so much that we decided a few months later to make the move to Bella Vista and become Crystal Bridges volunteers.
I started my volunteer experience in the Museum Store. I soon branched out to greeting guests at the front door and handing out audio headsets. I enjoy working with Access, and am trained to be a Bachman-Wilson House guide, which is my favorite volunteer opportunity to date. I will be training with Volunteer staff to give tours to new volunteers and have been accepted to the upcoming Gallery Guide and Sculpture Guide Trainings. Can’t wait!
What Keeps Me Coming Back:
The care and feeding of volunteers by staff, the interaction with other volunteers, and the privilege of assisting guests.
What I enjoy most:
The feeling of belonging and the ability to enhance guests’ experiences when they visit.
What I have learned:
I have learned so much (about art, architecture, nature) and I have made new friends. I have confidence in my ability to give guests great tours due to the excellent training offered by museum staff.
I have been a Deepak Chopra fan for many years and was so thrilled to see him up close and personal when he visited the museum. I also happened to be in the same elevator as Alice Walton when arriving that day and she told me that she and Deepak have been friends for 30 years; that she is on his Board and that his wife wanted to see the museum. What fun that was!
I have volunteered for many different kinds of organizations over the years and have never enjoyed any volunteer experience as much as I do Crystal Bridges. The training we receive as volunteers, the many and varied opportunities that we have to serve, and the ability to set our own schedules is unparalleled in my experience. Everyone is so welcoming and I feel truly valued and appreciated.
Advice to those who may be considering volunteering:
Do it! You won’t regret it and will have a marvelous time with an exceptional group of talented and committed people.