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When you volunteer, community comes alive

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Can a nonagenarian survive – and maybe even thrive – in the pandemic?
 
Buckingham resident Laura Womack, co-chair of the Phillips’ Mill Art Show, is determined that this 91-year-old Bucks County grande dame can.
 
Working with devoted volunteers, she and her committees have preserved the character of Bucks County’s “most prestigious and longest-running juried art show,” by reinventing it for the age of social distancing.
 
“I’ve worked with the Mill Art Show for about 10 years in various roles,” Womack said, “but when I became the co-chair I suddenly was at the helm of something very different from anything we had presented before. We had to adapt. Fast. Big time.”
 
What Womack quickly found was the path to the future lay in the origins of the organization.
 
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“In 1929, the artists founded the Phillips’ Mill Community Association,” she said. “They did not name it as an art club. Phillips’ Mill is for everyone.”
 
Using this keen insight into the nature of the brand, she and her committees worked to make the event a community event once more. She was determined that the rich heritage of the area’s artistic culture would persist online.
 
So those involved found virtual ways for artists to submit artwork to be juried by accomplished professionals, to display winners, to award prizes, to foster sales, and to provide a wide-ranging viewing experience for anyone who visits the online exhibition – something for everyone.
 
“In fact, I would say we have a great opportunity this year to share one of the extraordinary facets of this area with an even wider public. We can extend our community to include neighboring counties, Philadelphia, New York … the world, really. That’s good for our artists and good for Bucks County so people see what we have here,” Womack said.
 
“When you volunteer, you meet new people and new ideas are sparked. It’s very creative to volunteer, very rewarding. A show like this takes many volunteers, some working for a day, some for months.
“We need all kinds of people, and I can promise volunteers the experience will make you like your community more. People talk about volunteers serving, and you do contribute your time and talents. But you take away so much more.”
 
To visit the Phillips’ Mill Art Show on view until Nov. 1, go to phillipsmill.org. To learn about Central Bucks Volunteer Opportunities Listing, search CB-VOL on Facebook.

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