MerleFest volunteers often learn about volunteer opportunities through friends. That's what happened when Ray Boone, a retired postmaster of Wilkesboro and Charley Mapa, a postmaster from Alexandria, Virginia started talking about music. Long-time volunteer Ray learned that Charley and his wife Gwenda were bluegrass fans, so he invited them to come to MerleFest, stay with his wife Chris and him, and volunteer. That was in 2008, and the two couples plan to repeat the experience in 2009.
Charley, who serves in the elected position of National President of the National League of Postmasters, had a great time working in hospitality at the Watson Stage with Gwenda and the Boones. He said of the experience, "Last year was phenomenal. Besides being able to spend time with Ray, Chris, and their cousins, I had the opportunity to meet Doc Watson personally. We also had a chance to talk on several occasions with the Lovell Sisters, their band, and their family. They are a very special, talented group."
Gwenda and Charley have been married for thirty-six years, have two married children, and two beautiful grandchildren. "We enjoy hiking and biking as well as listening to music," Charley noted. "We take our faith seriously and take part in various ministries."
In the Postmasters Advocate, a publication of the National League of Postmasters of the United States, Charley wrote of his MerleFest experience:
There, at one of the world's greatest bluegrass festivals, Gwen and I would be able to listen to some fantastic music groups and even meet some celebrities. The price of admission? Almost free -- we'd just have to work in the performers' meal area for four hours a day. Our task, like that of the Postal Service, was to deliver stuff -- in this case, meals. Our boss was a talented manager named Brenda (Osborne). Brenda gave us a short training on food service, safety and cleanliness and then let our two teams of eight loose to perform our tasks. We soon learned how to get the job done quickly, how to work together, how to be innovative and how to plan ahead. Once Brenda saw how we performed, she backed off. The result was a very efficient, motivated, happy workforce.
Thank you, Charley, for the kind recognition of MerleFest and for the great work you and Gwenda do to make the festival a success. We look forward to having you back in 2009.
To all of our volunteers, we hope you will follow Ray Boone's example and spread the word about the fun and satisfaction of volunteering at MerleFest. Volunteering is even more fun when you do it with friends!