North Shore Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Palmer

November 8, 2013 By vincent-uribe

Fact: Maria Palmer lights up a room. It’s impossible not to notice that she’s entered the studio because immediately a chorus of voices shouts “MARIA!” and just as immediately she starts spreading her sunshine around.

Maria’s infectious cheeriness is one of the many reasons the artists looked to her when they needed a new drama volunteer. It’s hard to resist smiling, joking and goofing off when Maria’s around, and since that’s half of what makes performing fun, Maria was a natural choice. Plus, she has years of experience sharing the joys of drama with groups. She’s also put in countless volunteer hours forging meaningful relationships with everyone in our community and learning about what makes us unique both as individuals and as a collective.  That’s how she knows she can call on Montell during a drama exercise and count on Danny to bring a wig to rehearsal (pictured above). Maria understands us well, so we trust her to help us bring our drama program out of retirement.
We got curious about what motivates Maria to be so warm and helpful. Artist Brian Reed (pictured below as Maria whispers a drama prompt in his ear) interviewed her to get some insight into what makes this very special volunteer tick.
 Brian: How did you hear about The Arts of Life?
Maria: I was in school and I had to write an essay on different ways people use the arts to have fun and express themselves. I looked in my newspaper and, low and behold, there was a picture in there of you guys. And it said “Arts of Life in Glenview” and I couldn’t believe it because [the studio] was two minutes away from where I live. I thought, “Wow! I have to go see this place.” So I spent a day here. You were doing drama with puppets, so I watched you doing that and watched you painting and doing your great art and then I went home and wrote a paper on it. But I had such a great time that I called and said, “Can I come back?” On December 17th, I will have been here for one year. It’s nearly my first birthday at The Arts of Life!

B: What do you like about The Arts of Life?
M: It is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I really mean that. I love it here. I love all the people; I love the work that you do; I love the way that you talk to each other. I just think it’s a fantastic community. It feels like a big family. Do you feel like that too, Brian?
B: Yes I do!
M: The best thing is I feel like we’re all friends.
B: What kind of work do you like to do when volunteering?
M: Well, we just started doing the drama group last week. And drama is one of my favorite things. I LOVE to do drama. But I also really enjoy getting to sit down with an artist and work on a piece really carefully and make it grow until we really achieve something cool. I love watching how carefully you guys work. And then how proud you feel when you’ve got this fantastic piece of work that no one else could have done.
 B: Are you an artist?
M: I don’t really paint; you guys are a lot better at painting than me. I do a lot of craftwork. I like to make collage and 3-D things and things out of paper. That’s that kind of artist I am.
B: Where did you go to school?
M: When I was little, I was in school in England. Then I did high school in England and my first degree in England. Then I moved to America and did another degree in America. I did all my growing up in England and then came over here when I was in my 30’s.
B: What do you do when you’re not at The Arts of Life?
M: I look after my family. I have two boys who I spend a lot of time with. And I work at a doctor’s office sometimes. And I teach piano lessons. So… I’m pretty busy!
B: Do you have any pets?
M: Last Christmas, my son decided he wanted a fish tank. Over the year, he’s put more fish in. I thought it would be really boring, but actually the fish are really fun to watch.
B: Thanks Maria.
M: Thank you, Brian.
 We’re so grateful to Maria for all her hard work and we look forward to watching the drama program develop in new directions. 
Are YOU intersted in joining our Arts of Life “family” as a volunteer? We have as many kinds of volunteer opportunities as we do volunteers. We’d be happy to help you find your niche here at the North Shore studio. Fill out our Volunteer Application to get started!