The Des Moines Playhouse

Lights, camera, action!

Started in 1919 by the Iowa Press and Authors club, the Des Moines Community Playhouse is one of the largest community theatres in the United States–and also one of the oldest, continuously operating theatres in the country. From Broadway musicals to knee-slapping comedies, tearful dramas to colorful family entertainment–the Playhouse brings a little thespian spice-that’s-nice (in all its wonderful forms) to the Greater Des Moines area.

But that’s not all. “In addition to presenting 12 productions each year, we also have the largest education department of any community theatre in the country,” says Lee Ann Bakros, Marketing & Public Relations Director for the Playhouse. “The classes are year-round for ages 4 through senior adult.”

For many, the Des Moines Playhouse is more than a community theatre; it’s a place of empowerment, inspiration and expression. “The Playhouse is one of the few organizations that brings together people from all walks of life,” said the late Harold Goldman, longtime supporter of the arts. “Young, old, rich, poor, black and white–I’m encouraged by that. I think what the Playhouse does can help erase our differences.” So do a lot of people. In 2012, the Des Moines Community Playhouse was awarded the Better Together Award by the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation.

 “Young, old, rich, poor, black and white–I think what the Playhouse does can help erase our differences.”

The mission of the Playhouse is to change lives by entertaining, enriching, and engaging the people of Greater Des Moines through high-quality theatrical presentations, avocational experiences, and life-long education opportunities. “At the heart of the Playhouse are the approximately 1,400 volunteers who annually contribute 75,000 hours of their time and their talent onstage, backstage, and in the classrooms,” says Lee Ann.

The Playhouse uses VolunteerLocal to schedule ushers, ticket takers, house managers, and concessionaires. “Prior to VolunteerLocal, volunteers had to drive to the Playhouse to write their name on paper schedules in a notebook,” says Lee Ann. “If they couldn’t remember when they were volunteering, they would have to drive over or call in to check the schedule.”

Now, she says, “volunteers can sign up at home–at midnight, if they want!” The Playhouse captures all volunteer contact information using the software to stay current, and they love the handy export feature for day-of-performance check-ins. Deb Korte, Guest Services Manager for the Playhouse, is equally pleased with the switch to an automated volunteer service. “It’s very intuitive and user friendly–not to mention time saving!” She says. “I for one am extremely appreciative of the time saving aspect of this program.”

Photos courtesy of Des Moines Community Playhouse

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The Summer of Volunteering!

You asked for it, you got it. Welcome to VolunteerLocal’s 2013 Summer of Volunteering! We’ve just launched a webpage with links to the registration and sign-up pages for local events and organizations using our service. This new volunteer portal is a place for organizations to promote their events, build a stronger online following and strut their stuff for prospective volunteers.

Iowa Craft Beer Tent, meet Peace Tree enthusiast. Habitat for Humanity, meet serial-home-renovator. Des Moines Arts Festival, meet bi-lingual child specialist. Through the Summer of Volunteering, we expect to partner volunteers who have a desire to make an impact with meaningful community service opportunities in the area.

Here at VolunteerLocal headquarters, we believe people volunteer for causes they care about. On the Summer of Volunteering page, Des Moines residents will find over 25 local events, a list that is rapidly growing and expanding to include organizations from all across Iowa!

Would you like to see your event on the Summer of Volunteering webpage? Sign up today at (it’s free!) and then contact us when the event is ready to be listed!

Go to to become a volunteer today!

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Curry Without Worry

Good food, good feelings, good people.

Courtesy of Curry Without Worry

This is the magic that makes it all happen–the perfect balance of the right ingredients to make curry without the worry. Every Tuesday, at the UN Plaza in San Francisco and in downtown Kathmandu, the nonprofit Curry Without Worry serves up fresh hot bowls of curry-tastic altruism, also known as soul-pleasing food to hungry people in need. The organization was founded by Shrawan Nepali, who ventured far from the cubicle of his corporate office back to his native country of Nepal to build a home for underprivileged children. Equipped with eight years of experience in corporate America, an MBA in International Business and a genuine desire to do good, Nepali established Curry Without Worry in 2006 to combat hunger with a celebratory and healthful approach.

As Nepali quickly discovered, hunger is a fickle foe. Hunger does not discriminate by race or class, age or denomination, Kathmandu or San Francisco. As a result, Curry Without Worry defies traditional stigmas surrounding food-aid programs; indeed, the organization encourages those from all walks of life to attend in both cities. This organization seeks to bring together “the have and the have-nots,” writes The New York Times, “to foster a merging of [these] communities.”

Since its creation in 2006, Curry Without Worry has served up hot meals for over 105,000 people in need.

Photo cred: Bay Area Bites

An entirely self-sustainable, volunteer-driven organization, Curry WOW has clocked in over 7,104 volunteer hours and dished up over 100 humanities credits to participating University and high school students. Until now, they’d done it all by hand. “VolunteerLocal was a godsend,” says Jesse Seaver, President of Curry Without Worry. “It was one of those moments when I was searching for the perfect web application for my needs and found it.” VolunteerLocal has assisted Seaver and Nepali to organize and streamline the way they manage their volunteers each week.

When Curry Without Worry had an emergency last-minute kitchen closure last week, VolunteerLocal came to the rescue. “In the past this could have been a disaster with volunteers showing up un-announced. Now that we can schedule, we can easily notify a group of cancellations or modifications to the schedule. Overall, I’m very happy with the application, and thankful to you for making it.”

Namaste to you, Curry WOW…and happy volunteering!

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