Volunteer of the week: Sharon Harnden, of Dowagiac

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sharon Harnden, of Dowagiac, is the treasurer and past president of the Dowagiac Fine Arts Boosters, which hosts a number of events every year to benefit local choir students.


How did the Fine Arts Booster get started?

Back in 2009, in March, my second husband died, and we had one of the choir members sing at the funeral. We wanted to pay for her time, and I was told we couldn’t. So Carol [Novak, Harnden’s daughter] and I talked it over with Jeff Robinson, who is the choir director, and we said, “what if we start a booster club instead?” It took off in August that same year.


What are the activities you hold every year?

The major fundraiser is the Rubber Ducky Race we hold every July during Summer in the City. That’s our biggest fundraiser. We have other ones. We’ve had car washes, gas pumping. We do Shop with a Choir Student during Christmas time. We serve hot chocolate during the parade.


What kind of things do you raise money for?

Most of it right now is going toward scholarships. We give an out-going senior a scholarship. We give two middle school and two senior high students scholarships to go to Blue Lake [Fine Arts Camp] or they go out here to the college.


How do you feel like the kids benefit most from the activities?

The kids who get involved with the activities have fun. And they know that if they help when we need it they will get help when they need it. We can’t give them a fortune, but we can give them something.


What’s the most rewarding part for you being involved with the Boosters?

To see the looks on [the students’] faces when they receive their scholarships…and to see the kids get involved. They’re giving back to their community, they’re paying back to the boosters and they’re helping themselves in the long run.


How can parents get involved with the boosters?

Just give Carol or I a call. We would love to hear from them. We need to get more parents involved with kids…if you want your child involved, you need to be there to support them. That’s why Carol and I stay with this. We both care about the kids.


Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her by calling Craig Haupert, community editor, at (269) 687-7720, or by email at craig.haupert@leaderpub.com.