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Towne Salute: Carolyn Kirby of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre

Jul 29, 2016 02:46PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Becca Newell

As a volunteer for Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, Carolyn Kirby describes herself as one of the luckiest people in the world.

For those unfamiliar with the organization, located in the heart of downtown Annapolis—within a stone’s throw of City Dock—ASGT aims to provide a live, outdoor theater experience for the entire community.

In 1988, while working full time, Kirby was introduced to the nonprofit, courtesy of her daughter’s involvement with its original youth production, “The Talent Machine.”

“She was cast and being the parent that I was, I said, ‘how can I help out?’” she says.

In doing so, Kirby found not a hobby, but an avocation—a fitting description of her unwavering support of the organization over the last 28 years. While helping with publicity for “The Talent Machine,” she also began volunteering in the box office—first for the weeknight children’s production, and then for its regular performances. From there, “one thing led to another,” she says, describing her path from membership director to president of the board.

Her relentless fervor for ASGT is inspiring.

“I understand why people get involved [with an organization] and move on. You know, their lives change,” she says. “I guess I was really lucky. I’m a happy person; I’m doing what I love.”

As president—a role she held from 1992 through 1996, and again, from 2006 to present day—Kirby oversees the business side of the nonprofit organization, ensuring there are enough available resources to produce shows and securing enough ticket sales to fill the 200 or so seats. Despite being a seasonal production with shows typically held May through September, Kirby, along with the rest of the board and volunteers, remain busy throughout the year.

She estimates spending a total of at least six months a year “working” for ASGT. And even as she nears three decades with the organization, her excitement and affection for each production remains unfazed.

“I love to see the process; it’s fun to see [a show] develop,” she says, grinning.

With at least three shows per summer season, there’s a rarely a dull moment for volunteers, particularly when they’re as passionate as Kirby. That being said, the organization is always looking for additional help from anyone willing to lend a hand.

“If you have an interest, we can find a place for you,” she says, complimenting ASGT’s volunteer coordinator, who strives to find the perfect role for every volunteer.

It’s that devotion from each board and committee member, and their willingness to incorporate the entire community in their endeavor, that has enabled the organization to become such a fixture in downtown Annapolis. This year marks the nonprofit’s 50th anniversary.

“We’re really thriving now,” she says.

And though she might have moved on from her initial responsibilities in the box office, you can still catch Kirby almost every night throughout the season, greeting guests as they enter the starlit auditorium.

“Last year, I was a little better about not being here every night,” she says, with a laugh. “But, it’s kind of what I do in the summertime.”

For more information, visit summergarden.com.

Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Becca Newell at Bnewell@WhatsUpMag.com