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In a guest post, ArtStreamer Pam Young reflects on her time as volunteer mentor three years down the road, and how it led her to pursue a graduate degree in Theatre and Drama Therapy.


ArtStream is the reason I have the career that I do now. It is the reason I want to help people in different ways and the reason I am working to become a Drama Therapist.

I volunteered with ArtStream’s Gaithersburg Inclusive Theatre Company from 2009 to 2013. After one night at rehearsal I fell in love. I felt so at home there and like I could really make a difference. ArtStream started as a way to get SSL hours for school, but it became so much more than that.

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I religiously use this quote from Ocsar Wilde to describe the theatre arts:

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

This describes what ArtStream does for its actors and why I want to do what ArtStream does for the rest of my life.

The first time I stepped on stage with ArtStream was as a Sherriff in It’s a Wonderful Pie. I guided an actor with a visual impairment as we tap danced together. I’m proud to say that I’m still friends with this actor and he has influenced my life more than he knows.

Mentoring fostered my love for theatre because I got do things I had never experienced before. Some of my favorite moments as a mentor were usually on stage at a performance because we never knew what was going to happen. It was a different show every night and it always kept me entertained and on my toes. This is not to mention the great characters I got to play — a sheriff, an evil witch, a mime, and even an Irish bar maid. It was awesome.

ArtStream helped support my love for theatre and gave me so many opportunities. It gave me so much experience not just in performing, but in working with people. It helped me develop the qualities I love about myself today.

once_-_wolf300Mentors work closely with the actors at every rehearsal and performance. It’s hard work that takes a lot of determination, but the rewards are priceless. The reward can be as simple as when one actor finally gets their line or when another actor nails the dance move they have been working on all year; or, it can be as transformative as an actor conquering their fears and really blossoming into a star.

Thinking about my career, I want to spend my life working with people who truly care about the work that they do. That’s something I saw every night at ArtStream. Everyone who works or volunteers for ArtStream wants the actors to shine on stage. They want to show the world that these actors can do so much more than they imagine.

I want to be an advocate. I want to give others the power to be their best selves. And I want to have fun at my job like the teaching artists at ArtStream. That is why I am pursuing a graduate degree in Theatre and Drama Therapy from Kansas State University (with Inclusive Theatre Godmother Sally Bailey).

ArtStream fostered my love for the theatre and drama therapy because I could see the difference I was making — even in just the flash of a smile.

– Pam Young


You can become a volunteer too. Visit www.art-stream.org/volunteer to get started!

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