Sara Kushnir's childhood memories are illuminated by reminiscences of summer evenings spent with her father at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.
She reflects upon the vigour, the liveliness, the pomp and the sheer force of the myriad performances that have speckled the landscape of her recollections over the years.
"It's the energy of the Fringe, there's absolutely nothing like it," says the 27-year-old financial adviser for Assiniboine Credit Union. "The hustle and bustle, it's exciting."
In adulthood, Kushnir has continued the tradition of going to the Fringe Festival with her father, 67-year-old Zenon Kushnir, but this time as volunteers.
Zenon, an apartment superintendent, has volunteered for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival since 2000; his daughter, since 2004. Together, they volunteer in ticket sales and as ushers.
"I really enjoy it, it's a lot of fun," says Zenon. "You get to meet a lot of the performers who come from all across Canada, the United States, even Europe."
This year, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is looking for 900 volunteers to help run the 12-day festival, which takes place July 17-28.
"Volunteers ensure that the Fringe is one of Winnipeg's greatest summer events by keeping drinks flowing in the beverage pavilion, entertaining little Fringers at the Kids Fringe and helping folks navigate the festival in and around Old Market Square," says Jennifer Cheslock, outreach manager at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and volunteer manager for the Fringe. "The countless hours put in by our volunteers have made our festival a record-breaking success, and we're so grateful for their contributions."
Every year, generous Manitobans donate more than 17,000 hours of their time during the festival. Volunteers sell tickets, usher spectators, help clean venues, work at the beverage pavilion, help kids with crafts and games, sell Fringe merchandise, answer questions at the information booth, monitor parking and help with recycling. The perks of volunteering for the Fringe include free tickets to shows.
For Sara and Zenon, the fact that volunteering helps make it possible for 100 per cent of ticket sales to go directly to performers is really important.
"These performers work really hard," says Zenon. "It takes a long time for them to prepare for a performance, and many work during the day and practise at night."
"I think when you feel really passionate about something, it's important to help support its continuity," says Sara. "It's excellent to see local support, money flowing back to the community. These incredible performers give us a glimpse into life that goes beyond the everyday we're so used to."
The father-daughter duo admits after so many years, they're old hands at volunteering. "Sometimes I'll ask him, 'How do I do this again?' and he always knows the answer," Sara says with a laugh.
"It's really nice to be able to spend time together, giving back," says Zenon, looking over at his daughter.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, you can fill out an application at www.winnipegfringe.com or can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin-Bazak at: email@example.com.