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Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Pettem

April 17, 2024

Catherine Pettem has lived in Cambridge off and on for over 30 years, and she’s been a part of Drayton Entertainment for more than a decade. During that time, she has amassed an astonishing number of volunteer hours and helped enhance the experience at shows for thousands of audience members. 

Drayton Entertainment volunteer Catherine Pettem at Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge.

Drayton Entertainment volunteer Catherine Pettem in action at Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge.

How long have you been volunteering with Drayton Entertainment, and why did you start?

I’ve been working with Drayton Entertainment for over 10 years, and one of the main reasons was my love of live theatre. I was quite excited when I learned that Drayton was coming to town. Volunteering with them allows me to support the arts and spend time with like-minded individuals.

Where do you volunteer?

I’ve worked at several Drayton theatres, but my “home” would be Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge.

Normal tasks include front-of-house usher, ticket taker, 50/50 seller, and greeter. Additionally, I’ve been a volunteer trainer for six years, and I’ve trained volunteers and newly appointed volunteer trainers at several theatres. I also have a Smart Serve certificate, which has allowed me to work at special events, serving beverages to our patrons.

I’ve participated in marketing campaigns, providing info about the theatre at malls and community events, as well as administrative activities including mailings, gift wrapping, and so on.

How many hours have you worked as a Drayton Entertainment volunteer?

I’m guessing over 11 seasons it’s probably close to, if not over, 2,000 hours. 

What kind of work did you do before you retired?

I had a very rewarding work career. I ran a family business while I was a mom, a children’s clothing and accessories shop, and then had an opportunity to take on a management role with a biotech startup in Waterloo. It was purchased by a large American company, and I continued to work with them, both in Canada and the U.S., until I retired. 

Are there any other ways that you serve the community?

In addition to Drayton Entertainment, I volunteer at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, the City of Cambridge, Idea Exchange, and an offsite location attached to the Cambridge Food Bank.

Why do you find volunteering so fulfilling?

Well, the first thing is, that it makes me feel good seeing the audience enjoy the performance. Some of them are at the theatre for the very first time, and that’s especially rewarding. It’s a very happy place to volunteer. 99.9% of the people are coming here to forget about what’s going on in the world, and just immerse themselves in the entertainment we’re providing. You truly do lose yourself in live theatre, so that’s probably the main reason.  

What type of shows do you enjoy the most?

I would say that the musicals are my absolute favourite. However, I have to add an addendum that the exceptional acting and compelling storytelling in a play have me engaged from start to finish. So, while musicals are my number one, I will gladly go and watch a play. There hasn’t been a performance over the years that I’ve volunteered that I haven’t loved.

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