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DIA Volunteer
DIA Volunteer

Volunteer Award Winner:
Donna Grant

Staff Aides - March 2010

Donna Grant, Staff Aides Volunteer of the Year, has been volunteering with the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for seven years. She decided to become a volunteer with the museum when she retired from teaching and heard from a friend that volunteering for the DIA was a wonderful experience, so Grant thought she’d give it a try. Plus, she had fond memories of using the DIA as the place to go to when she skipped classes while attending Wayne State University.

Selecting the Staff Aides Committee for her volunteering at the DIA fit into the requirements that Grant was looking for in a volunteer job, being behind the scenes and "looking for something easy, that only required that I put in time and once my shift was over I had nothing to take home." Spoken like a newly retired person. Grant quickly expanded her volunteer assignment by assuming the duties of Day Captain for the Wednesday Staff Aide group. Soon after, Grant became the vice chair of the committee, in addition to the Day Captain duties and two years later, Grant became the chair. During her tenure as chair, Grant began changing, reorganizing, filling empty Board positions and just generally improving the way the committee functioned. She got a better handle on identifying the volunteers who are assigned in the DIA departments, and improved the processes for the Day Teams to receive project requests. She also put in place a record-keeping system that made it easier to capture statistics of work done by Staff Aides. That’s quite an impressive list of accomplishments for someone who wanted "something easy." At the end of her committee chair tenure, Grant immediately accepted a position on the Volunteer Council board of directors as corresponding secretary. But that obviously wasn’t enough to keep her busy, so in addition to her Staff Aide Day Team work, Grant agreed to help with computer entry in the Events Department as an "embedded" volunteer.

Grant speaks fondly of her assignments at the DIA. She remembers working on a huge mailing with Hal Miller, a Staff Aide who recently passed away, and appreciated the time with him, listening to his interesting WWII stories. She refers to working with the Day Teams as like getting together with old friends to chat and then plan lunch. Even the tedious projects are viewed by Grant with a certain amount of humor and always taken in stride.

Grant and her husband, Dan, both worked in public education while raising two sons, who are now grown; one a US Forest Service wildland fire fighter in southern California, and the other a civil engineer who lives in Cincinnati with his family. Since retiring Grant has begun to "get reacquainted with the joys of reading." She is also a Master Gardener who works at a community garden and she enjoys quilting, which may be the reason she is drawn to Romare Bearden’s Quilting Time in the museum. Additionally, Grant and her husband have been able to travel to many interesting destinations including regular visits to Kennebunk, Maine where several family members still live.

When you first meet Grant you know that you’re meeting a person who’ll get right down to business – a real "can do" type person whatever the endeavor, but then you see it – that glittery twinkle in her eyes that tells you, whatever she’s trying to accomplish, she’ll work to get it done; and get it done right, but she’ll have a fun time doing it!

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