- What are you doing now? I’m a sophomore student at The University of Tampa in Florida, majoring in Management and Marketing.
- What was your favorite role or show you were in at Kids Who Care? My favorite role with Kids Who Care would have been this past summer (summer 2013) as I got to be both on stage as Riley Warren Fuller and backstage as a PA for Ehleshea Woodruff. Being given the opportunity to be in Deep in the Heart was incredibly memorable to say the least.
- What is the strongest lesson you took away from your time at Kids Who Care and how has it made you who you are today? One of the most important things I learned at Kids Who Care came from Mini Camp but is so applicable – Make every day an adventure. The atmosphere at Kids Who Care is unmatched. There really is some sort of magic that exists there every day which stems from the energy, positivism, and dreams of the people there. The idea of child wonder is something that most people lose, but it is not forgotten here and I love that, because there’s a huge difference between being child-like, and childish. Everyone just seems to be happier when they get to “whistle while they work” – have some play organically infused into the work. If I can emulate this feeling into every task and every job that I have, then I will always be content with life.
- Which KidPower Point of Power do you most identify with and why? I relate to every point of power, but if I have to choose one, it would be Vision. I love looking to the future and seeing potential. It inspires me to think about future possibilities and to hear the dreams and aspirations of others. And I believe that Vision encompasses some of the other points in the long run – you have to be efficient with your work in order to accomplish your goals, you have to encourage others of their passions (for you will most likely get encouragement and support in return), and you have to put yourself out there by making connections and letting others know of your plans so that they can come along for the ride.
- Tell us how what you are doing today applies to what you wrote on your cloud card as a kid. My cloud card has changed over the years to reflect my changing interest and dreams. When I was young, I aspired to be an actor as any young theatre child dreams. As I got older, I wanted to go to college and have a job with the freedom to travel the world, have a family and still be happy. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in hopes of graduating college. As for the rest, I have wishful thinking for the future yet to come.
- Any favorite or funny story about your time at KWC that we may not know? One of my proud personal accomplishments in Kids Who Care was assisting in coordinating the summer Dance-A-Thon event for two years (Andrea’s creation!). During the first go-round in 2011, I was extremely anxious and excited to put on a great event, and worked hard and diligently to coordinate assignments, communicate information, and deal with the logistics of the event. People tell me it was a blast, but I never gave myself a break until around the last 10 minutes, but it was a GREAT 10 minutes. Dance-A-Thon has always been my favorite event, and I was so thrilled to be able to make it happen. And going crazy on the dance floor with my friends to Time Warp and dubstep was exactly what I needed that night.
- What is your dream for Kids Who Care? My dream for Kids Who Care is to stay the way they are. I don’t mean that I want them to stay EXACTLY the same, because I would love to see these kinds of kid companies pop up all over the country and the world. What I do want for Kids Who Care is to hold on to the ideals that Deborah Jung had in mind 25 years ago, because those are the ones that inspire people to do great things and be great people in the communities around them.
- What are you doing now? I’m working as a freelance Audio Engineer and Sound Designer. That means that I work with various theaters and companies to design the sound for their productions, install sound systems, mix shows, and more. One of the companies that I get to work with is Kids Who Care!
- What was your favorite role or show you were in at Kids Who Care? Thats a really tough choice but the two that come to mind are getting to sing “Those Canaan Days” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and playing a rival gang leader opposite Michael Simeroth in Choices (2003).
- What is the strongest lesson you took away from your time at Kids Who Care and how has it made you who you are today? Probably, “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be history”. I’m still not always good at it, but for whatever it’s worth, I think of that and feel dread whenever I am late somewhere.
- Which KidPower Point of Power do you most identify with and why? While I wish I could say Efficiency, I’m going to go with Role Model. The role models that I had and still have at Kids Who Care have had such a huge impact in shaping who I am today. I would not be where I am without the work ethic, professionalism and drive that I learned from watching and working with my friends and role models at Kids Who Care. I often hope that I am able to provide that to others when I am given the chance.
- Tell us how what you are doing today applies to what you wrote on your cloud card as a kid. I wrote that I wanted to have my own recording studio. A few months ago, I recorded Deborah Jung leading the relaxation technique in my recording studio. Boom. Cloud cards work
- Any favorite or funny story about your time at KWC that we may not know? When I was probably about eight years old, I wasn’t in KWC yet but still went to California with them, tagging along with my mom and sister. I will always remember trying to woo an ill and bed-ridden Vanessa Rohrer by saving rolls from a restaurant to bring her at the hotel.
- What is your dream for Kids Who Care? To see a presidential race between Riley Morrison and Alix Kiles.
- What are you doing now? I’m the Company Manager and Resident Assistant Director of Kids Who Care. I manage the communication with the actors in the company, assist Deborah and work with the production staff and actors on all of the mainstage shows. I also book the Resident Company and serve on the development team on staff. My favorite thing is that I’m in the class room every day with 4-year-olds and 17-year-olds who love Musical Theatre and want to study together.
- What was your favorite role or show you were in at Kids Who Care? The most fun experience I had on stage at KWC as a kid was when I was a wife in an orange leotard in the 1998 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The year that stands out to me most was the 1994 tour of Choices. I sang the end of the Star Spangled Banner at the top of the show – in the dark! It was my only part in the show and it was my favorite year. But, if I had to choose only one favorite it would be getting to play Mrs. Darling in this summer’s production of Peter Pan. Coming back to the Scott stage as an adult was delightful and I will never forget it.
- What is the strongest lesson you took away from your time at Kids Who Care and how has it made you who you are today? You can create the life you want to have. The best way to a happy life is to find your dreams, say them out loud and make the choice to chase them every day. And if you surround yourself with the right people who will encourage you and love you no matter what…anything is possible.
- Which KidPower Point of Power do you most identify with and why? As a kid, Role Model shaped me the most. The idea of being authentic to myself is at the core of who I am. Now, Encouragement is an active part of my day-to-day life because for me it is the most powerful thing I can receive and gift I can give to those around me.
- Tell us how what you are doing today applies to what you wrote on your cloud card as a kid. When I was 7 years old, I wrote on a cloud card “I want to make Kids Who Care happen forever.” And over the years, I continued to say that out loud and now I’m living my dream every day.
- Any favorite or funny story about your time at KWC that we may not know? My very first Sparkie was Clinton Foster. I was 16 and he was 7. Before a tour performance, shortly after we’d become Sparkies, he walked up to me while I was talking with some friends, gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me to have a good show. After I walked away, he said to my friend Taylor, “I just kissed Katie on the cheek and I bet it was the best thing she ever felt in her whole life.” And it was. First Sparkie For Life.
- What is your dream for Kids Who Care? This summer as we celebrated 25 years, I was reminded over and over as each alumni spoke that this is our home. My dream is that our family will continue to grow and that we stay connected and most importantly will never lose sight of the heart of the company.
The 25th Summer at Kids Who Care wasn’t just a birthday it was a passage. Something happened this summer. Something like that first summer in 1989, when we received a standing ovation from a standing room only house; everyone felt it, and then someone was brave enough to call the question, “Now what?” And so in response to that question, what was in our hearts started becoming a tangible thing, step by step, and here we are 25 years later.
To every one of you that has performed on this stage, this is my 25th Summer Message to You:
Although we had talked about the 25th summer for a couple of years, I had no idea how it would feel. The experience of that much love in my heart all surfacing at once has no words. Each year for 25 years, I have spent 11 months out of 12 staring at you on stage; joyfully watching, tweaking, correcting you, your work, your work ethic, but mostly being fed by you. Fed by your performances, your growth, your advice, your response to my work, to our work, for twenty-five years I have most of all adored you.
The first rehearsal that you sat as alums in the middle of the house waiting for blocking from me was horrifying and exhilarating simultaneously. I wasn’t expecting you and there you were; an entire row of my brilliant “children” waiting for direction. I had no plan for you! I was busy preparing your place to step into the light and there you were … early by my watch. But you seemed happy not to have a job. Just to sit in the sweet spot and watch. Take it all in.
Opening night hit with 150 kids preparing to go on stage and a list of 42 guest alums showing up in bits and pieces. I desperately wanted to enjoy it. I knew how special it was. I should be feeling something extraordinary, but I wasn’t. I was standing in the center of it all distracted by the details. “It’s like a wedding and I’m the bride and I can’t find my list,” I said to Andrea. And she knew. I wanted to feel that high moment, but I just felt confused. What in the world am I doing? And then I remembered, I’ve never done this before. Six guest celebs front and center, that’s normal, that’s a tradition. But the front 2 rows filled house right to house left, that’s new!
We created a circle, passed the squeeze, the curtain went up. The audience loved it, I loved it, and then I saw your faces exiting the aisles! There it was. That’s the moment I was looking for! Sheer unbridled joy shared by all of us. The reason for existing!
By Friday we settled in. You sat on stage and told the company why this place was important to you and where you were now. The 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. hour to greet and place alums became this comfortable sweet place. Like chess pieces, we moved you from seat to seat, gave you last minute stage directions and time to run your cameos. It started to feel familiar. Some of you had been with us for a full week by then. You were the glue. It made what happened this summer different. It was like the company had arrived. It was more than creating cameos for our friends.
The Summer Company, and especially the Resident Co., was a bit star struck. You made everyone nervous. Weird, right? There was their history sitting on the front row staring at them. Yep, there you were! The characters in the “tribal stories” we had shared; the original Peter Pan, the real Cowboy, Joseph from the story of “The Wall”. They were excited and in awe, but at the same time sort of freaked out. You had no idea. I witnessed something I’ve never seen before. You were the stars they had heard about and you had come to hang out with them. Very, very cool.
The Saturday morning coffee was a small “State of the Union”. The realization that this small $1,000,000 company had fought for its place in the cultural distract, its’ ownership, and its’ soul, and won! You were introduced to Cruella and The Giant that made us who we are. We celebrated that it has been a joyful, incredible journey, but that tomorrow stands poised waiting for you to affect us!
By Saturday night it had become a collection of my favorite children all in one place doing what we love. The theatre WAS a party! Our pre-curtain speech jumped into the center and we flew! The performances were the best they ever could have been, the audience the most animated. BJ hit a streak in “The Day Dad Made Toast” that was unprecedented, even in his long history of performances with us. I gave him a standing ovation.
Following the performance, we stepped on to a porch filled with birthday cake and candles, food trucks, and the proper volume of music! By 11:30, I found many of you at Conlon’s, our own personal Irish Pub. I witnessed “Differences” like never before and it was my great pleasure to truly toast you!!! Each of you, for believing in what we did once upon a time. By 2, I didn’t really want to head home. Dexter stood with my purse and a gentle look and we left. But not before I spoke to Andrew Shaw, thank you Ky!
By Sunday morning the sound of Moms in my kitchen and Dads setting up tables was as comfy as an old robe. No worries, no façade, no mascara, no lipstick. I intermittently stepped out of my bathroom in various stages of getting ready to direct someone to a cabinet or a dish. Like it was yesterday, these were my dear friends preparing brunch. It was perfect!!! The family connection complete.
Seeing you on my porch, in my front yard, filling my living room again, changed me. It was beyond anything I expected.
☼ To the beloved Kids Who Care Staff… Chad, Kathryn, Billie, Kate, Andrea, Ehleshea, and Zuilma… Thank you! We did it. We properly celebrated.
☼ To our Alums on Staff and the Alum Board Members…Vanessa, Lane, Taylor, Kate, Andrea, Chad… Thank you! I love you dearly.
☼ To Alum Moms who organized brunch, Janet Lanza and Susan Willis…Much love to you.
☼ To Board Member Karen Vermaire Fox…Thank you for the party on the porch. Huge kiss!
☼ To Kate, thank you for insisting I play Grown Up Wendy, and to Chad and Dexter for encouraging me. To Elise, thank you for letting me swish across stage. After 24 years of acting first, followed by 23 years of directing first, and the first 12 years simply playing make believe, it was wonderful to return to the stage. I’ll do it again.
☼ And to All of You, the Alums out there … Thank you for being there. Kiss the ones you love, buy an alum shirt, and get busy. The 50th will be here before we know it!