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Making the Band: Vanguard Volunteers

Making the Band: Vanguard Volunteers

In the world of non-profit organizations, it is passionate volunteers that make things possible. Some of the most ardent volunteers donate their time to the Santa Clara Vanguard. They work in food, costuming, at the bingo hall and help out wherever a body is needed, and without them, Vanguard wouldn’t be able to function the way it does.

From former marchers to parents of aged out students, as well as drum corps fans and friends, every volunteer is important and shares a love of the corps.

One of Vanguard’s dedicated volunteers is Jan Clay, a resident of Portland, Ore. who has flown down to help with costume tailoring for the last five years.

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“I came in 2010 when my youngest daughter decided to march her age out year … I joined for that whole season,” said Clay. “I came in on uniforms and said I could do the whole tour because I asked Jenny if it was OK. I went on tour and it was exhausting and exhilarating and a blast. I totally loved it. Jenny had a fantastic age out year. She made so many friends that year and it was hard for me to say ‘that’s it.'”

Clay was hooked. As with many parents of former corps members, Clay returns every year to volunteer her time. “It’s such a family, I think that’s a lot of it,” said Clay. “The kids … They’re fabulous, wonderful. It’s so nice to work with them. It’s so wonderful to see a group of people that are working toward a common cause. It’s a higher calling, I guess.”

Volunteers like Clay and Vanguard alumni are honored every year at the organization’s annual birthday dinner, which was held on March 15. The spaghetti dinner gives people close to the corps the opportunity to fraternize and reminisce while supporting a cause they believe in. It also allows them to see the new A Corps and Cadets perform.

This year, Vanguard inducted its third Hall of Fame class, honoring five people who were instrumental in making the corps what it is today: Carole Avilla, Ed Leeson, Ralph Hardimon, Myron Rosander and Scott Pierson.

Making the Band: Vanguard Volunteers

“The first two [Avilla and Leeson], never marched in the corps,” said Jeff Fiedler, Vanguard’s chief executive officer. “They helped start it. They helped finance it or get the bank loan, the building, the property, the bingo going and all that stuff. Carole housed. She was like the mom. Anybody who would come from out of town, she housed them. Ralph didn’t march here, but Ralph kind of created an incredible drum line and it was like that for years. Myron basically wrote the drill from the late-80s to mid-2000s for the corps. He’s kind of like the historian.”

Pierson coordinated the music and arranged the brass for the Vanguard Alumni Corps from 1997-2002, and he arranged the music for the spring concerts Vanguard used to perform. “The funny thing is that Scott had no idea that he was even nominated,” said Fielder. “And when the person called him to tell him that he was being inducted he said it was the first time that he had heard him speechless.”

The winner for The Legacy Scholarship, given in memory of Paul Daryl Siebert, was also announced on Saturday. This year, the award was given to percussionist Gloria Yehilevsky.

The corps has currently been hard at work learning this year’s show, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and will participate in one more pre-season camp before they move in together at the end of May. Visit www.scvanguard.org for more information.

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