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Volunteer Spotlight: Kate Schaffer

Career Information (Past, Present or Future)

I was a Russian Studies and History major at Baylor University. Upon graduation, I spent time studying in what was then the Soviet Union. My first job was at an Oil and Gas company, but after a personal tragedy, I switched careers and went to work at Dallas Children’s Medical Center in community outreach and injury prevention. I spent the next 10 years working for injury prevention nonprofits.  My husband and I came to Arkansas in 2003 to be near my aging parents, and with the exception of a three-year return to the DC area in 2009, we’ve made Arkansas home. Greg was recruited to Walmart in 2017, so we migrated to Northwest Arkansas! We have two children—Jenna (17) will be a senior at Bentonville High School, and Isaac (20) will be a junior at Temple University in Philadelphia.

 

Hobbies/Activities/Interests

Exercise, political and civic activism, reading, music, my dogs, my kids, cooking. And of course—ART! I visit a museum in every city when I travel.

 

Favorite artwork or space at the museum

Kerry James Marshall’s Our Town. It has so much to say, I could look at it forever.

 

How did you learn about the museum and what prompted you to get involved?

I first read about the opening in the Washington Post when we were living back in the DC area, and when we moved back to central Arkansas in 2012, I made a trip up here right away. I fell in love with the museum and always said if we lived up here, I would sign up to volunteer, and lo and behold, here we came!

 

In what ways have you been involved as a volunteer with the museum thus far?

I’ve done everything from scanning tickets to entering data for human resources. Recently, I became a cart guide, and that has been a fantastic experience.

 

What keeps you coming back to volunteer?

I tell my family and friends that the museum is my ultimate happy place.  It can brighten my day when I pull into the parking lot.

 

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

Obviously, I cherish my interactions with guests. However, learning about the art and opening my mind to appreciate artists, mediums, and methods has been a real growth experience. I’d also like to honor the volunteers at the museum by saying that I have learned so much from them. They are so knowledgeable about the art here.

 

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience with the museum?

I’ve always explored museums when traveling to a new city/town, but my involvement with Crystal Bridges has resulted in a desire to always visit an art museum, and also gives me a whole new perspective on what I see. I get so excited when I recognize an artist, a movement, or a process as a result of my Crystal Bridges training.

 

Do you have a funny or inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?  Please share with us!

My favorite story thus far is from the day I volunteered as a cart guide with a fellow volunteer, Alan, at the salon hang. We had a large group of sports coaches visiting from Senegal, and they loved our cart guide activity. It was not only their first visit to the US, but for many their first plane ride. I loved seeing how art transcends cultural differences.

 

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Crystal Bridges?

Ask people at the museum for recommendations when you visit other cities/towns. I saw art that I never would have found on my own. I plan on doing that every time I travel!

 

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