Kravis Center Honors More than 500 Volunteers at the Annual Volunteer Salute

More than 575 volunteers and guests put on their finest cocktail and black-tie attire for the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ Volunteer SaluteThe annual thank-you dinner is known for its imaginative themes and fun surprises, and this year shined brightly with silver décor, a magic and mentalism show and a 25th Anniversary “Salute to Our Stars” theme.  Awards were presented for Student Volunteer of the Year, Rookies of the Year, Ushers of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. There was also a special pin presentation to those who have been volunteering for 25 years or more.


“Over the past 25 years we have welcomed over 8,000 volunteers into our programs and we have had many funny, unusual and amazing moments to remember,” said Maureen Gardella, Director of Guest Services. “Tonight is all about our volunteers and we want to recognize and thank each of you for all you do.  Your time and efforts are an invaluable part of what we do.  Over the last 25 years, our volunteers have represented approximately $3 million in value to the Kravis Center.  Our staff is proud of you and we thank you for your time, efforts and donations.”


Gardella then acknowledged Board members in attendance, including Founding Board Chairman Alexander Dreyfoos, current Board Chairman Michael Bracci, past Board Chair and current Vice Chair Jane Mitchell, John Jenkins and Gary Lickle as well as CEO Judith Mitchell, CFO Kyle Ruge and COO Jim Mitchell.


With a mission to enhance the quality of life in Palm Beach County by presenting a diverse schedule of national and international artists and companies of the highest quality, it takes a diverse group of volunteers to keep the Kravis Center running smoothly.


Dreyfoos School of the Arts student, Ishbel Ayala, was awarded the Student Volunteer of the Year award by Education Assistant Miranda Hawkins. Ms. Ayala was recognized for her 80 plus hours of service. She has assisted teachers in the classroom, led group activities and helped with administrative tasks. “She is a role model for the students to look up to,” said Hawkins.


The Rookie of the Year award went to two outstanding volunteer ushers.


The first Co-Rookie of the Year was awarded to an usher who has “from the beginning, excelled in the usher classes and on the usher test. This usher has been a quick learner and approached each assignment with enthusiasm. This being his first season, he has already worked 55 shows,” said Event Manager Karole Cooney when announcing recipient Ben Baxley.


Event Manager Dalhia Perryman acknowledged Mary Benbow as the second Co-Rookie of the Year. “She is a kind dedicated team player with a great attitude. At every event she greets you with a beautiful, warm, welcoming smile. She is a phenomenal woman.”


Event Manager Paul Kaufman presented the Ushers of the Year award to Nancy and Bob Tschupp, noting that “dedication, loyalty, excellent customer service skills, a thorough knowledge of the entire campus and a never-ending willingness to help, are just some of the attributes that this year’s ushers of the year have shown.” In his remarks about the Tschupps, Kaufman said “they take much of the stress out of what can sometimes be very stressful situations.”


Kravis Center CEO Judith Mitchell presented the prestigious Volunteer of the Year award to Larry Dougher, who was a previous recipient of the Usher of the Year Award.


“Each year the Volunteer of the Year Award goes to a volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the Kravis Center,” said Ms. Mitchell.  “This year’s award goes to a volunteer who has been here since 1998 assisting us in numerous capacities. Extremely knowledgeable about the Kravis Center, this volunteer assists guests, answers questions, and does whatever is asked in a friendly, welcoming manner.  Although quiet, this recipient stands out with a helpful and approachable demeanor and is proactive about helping guests.”


Special pins were presented to those Kravis Center volunteers who have been with the performing arts center the longest. Gardella noted that “this year I am pleased to announce that we have 27 volunteers who have been here since the first season, 25 years ago, or before.” Those individuals who received pins included Rita Bjork, Lori and Bob Clinger, Phyllis and Bob Coleman, Louise D’Alia, Rosemary Diehl, Sandy and Irving Erekuff, Adele Espo, Sue Finestone, Betty Goldberg, Rosalyn Goldberg, Roberta Greenfield, Rita Greiner, Jerry Henin, Jane Holden, Phyllis Hopman, Evelyn and Jim Louwers, Fran Maltzman, Ellen Migdal, Alexis Morrill, Serena Rinker, Norma Rosenfeld, Selma Rudnick-Waters and Rhoda Stopek.


Volunteers and their guests were treated to a very special dinner by Catering by The Breakers at the Kravis Center featuring a delicious surf and turf.  Ms. Mitchell led the guests in a champagne toast.  For the dinner’s grand finale, decadent ice cream sundaes adorned with sparklers were paraded through the ballroom.

Guests enjoyed not only table-side magic and mentalism with Magic by Mio, but also a mesmerizing stage performance by Mio. The evening ended with dancing under the shining chandeliers to DJ Midnight Mike.


Board Vice Chair Jane Mitchell sponsored the evening’s music, décor and entertainment.

This season, as the Kravis Center celebrates its silver anniversary, it renews its commitment to the community to present the gold standard of excellence in the performing arts.


The Kravis Center is a not-for-profit performing arts center whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in Palm Beach County by presenting a diverse schedule of national and international artists and companies of the highest quality, by offering comprehensive arts education programs, by providing a Palm Beach County home for local and regional arts organizations to showcase their work and by providing an economic catalyst and community leadership in West Palm Beach, supporting efforts to increase travel and tourism to Palm Beach County.


Fans and friends of the Kravis Center should stay tuned on the Kravis Center’s social channels throughout the 25th anniversary season for fun updates and surprises, including trivia contests, ticket giveaways and more. The Kravis Center is located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, FL.


For general information about the Kravis Center or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, please visit the Kravis Center’s website or call 561.651.4294. Follow the Kravis Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.