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Volunteers of Santa Clara Vanguard Weave the Past to the Present

On Oct. 19, Stephenie Hebert and Susan Macias, longtime volunteers of Vanguard Music and Performing Arts (VMAPA), folded T-shirts. They were preparing for the upcoming Oct. 21 Quakes Santa Clara Day at Avaya Stadium. At the event, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor recognized the Santa Clara Vanguard for winning the 2018 Drum Corps International World Championship in Indianapolis over the summer.

The hard work of VMAPA’s volunteers have helped drive the successful events and achievements of its members. Volunteers run Bingo nights and spaghetti dinners. They work on clerical duties, operations and data management. They organize, measure, launder and mend uniforms. Also, they serve on committees and boards. During the annual national summer tour, they travel with, and cook for, members of the Santa Clara Vanguard and the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets.

According to Charles Frost, Executive Director of VMAPA, the organization serves 450 plus members. Hebert estimated that about 200 to 250 volunteers serve VMAPA to support this large membership.


Hebert herself has been volunteering with VMAPA for nearly 50 years. In March 2018, she became a member of the Vanguard Hall of Fame. In August 2018, she was awarded Volunteer of the Year by Drum Corps International.

“I was a color guard member. I marched from 1967 to 1969,” said Hebert of her history with the Santa Clara Vanguard. “Before we were the Vanguard, I was part of a marching group called the Sparklers Majorettes and Sparks Drum and Bell Corps. When the Vanguard was formed, a lot of majorettes, including me, wanted to march with the Vanguard. We wanted to leave our majorette days behind us and spin ‘rifles.’  We were young — around 14 and 15-years-old. Here we are, 51 years later. Through our hard work back in the 1960s, we set the tone for the next 50 years.”

Macias started volunteering during the 1970s and accumulated over 600 hours of volunteering over the years. She has helped out with the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadet Corps as well as the Santa Clara Vanguard. Her youngest son was a marching member.

“The reason why I am doing this is because someone did this for me,” Macias said of her volunteering. “I was in the color guard [from 1974 to 1975] and I spun a ‘rifle.’ I have since been in two alumni corps [in 2002 and 2017] that the Vanguard has put out. What I learned in the activity are life lessons and harnessing that competitive energy. Learning to work with a group of 150 people. Learning how to take direction. Learning how to function as a group to perfect a show. Learning not give up.”

From 1980 to 1984, Veronica Flores was a marching member and color guard member of the Santa Clara Vanguard. After she aged out of the group when she turned 21, she has continued to stay involved. Enjoying the company of young people, Flores is a high school teacher by profession. As a volunteer with VMAPA, she has worked at least 600 hours over the last 25 years.

“As a young girl, the Santa Clara Vanguard changed my life,” Flores said. “It exposed me to a whole new world of traveling. I was drawn to the commitment, dedication and hard work involved with the marching activity and the level of camaraderie here. Going on the road year after year for the summer tour recharges me after a busy school year. Staying involved helps me feel young and energized.”

Email for more information about volunteering with VMAPA.


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