Several people holding their hands in the air
By Mel Rubenstein
Over the years I have received names of volunteers to be featured in this column in a variety of ways — like reading articles in the Eagle Bulletin about not-for-profit organizations, listening to guest speakers at Dewitt Rotary meetings, and from friends and relatives. This time it was because my wife and I regularly attend concerts at the Civic Center.
Our seats are located in Row B. Next to me sits a lady, Karen Meiner, who also attends on a regular basis. Over the years we have talked briefly about things like the performance, the weather, etc. The last time however, we somehow got on the subject of volunteers that work at Symphoria. When she told me that she serves on the Board of the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association, I explained that I write a Volunteer of the Month column in the Eagle Bulletin, and asked if the organization would like to recommend someone to be featured in it. In just a few days she sent me the name of Vicki Feldman, who was unanimously recommended by the board.
Feldman was born in New Jersey and attended Syracuse University. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, specializing in Advertising Design, and stayed in the Syracuse area with her husband, Bob. After working in her field for many years she began to do freelance work, at no charge, for not-for-profit organizations that needed her expertise in designing flyers and other promotional material for their fund-raising events.
In addition to being a talented design artist, Vicki Feldman is also a great baker. She took advantage of that by whipping together a batch of her best goodies and donating them at a silent auction for the Syracuse Symphony Association.
Feldman became a board member of the Syracuse Symphony Association (SSA) in 2004, and then its president in 2008. The SSA was formed in 1957 to help fundraising for the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO). When the SSO went out of business in 2011, the SSA re-organized as the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association, Inc. (SSMA) and continues to support Symphoria, as well as many other not-for-profit music organizations throughout Central New York. Vicki Feldman says that the SSMA typically has $35,000 to $40,000 to grant annually to these organizations.
When Itzhak Perlman, the famous violinist, performed in Syracuse in 1998 as a fundraiser for Temple Concord, Vicki Feldman was there. She said, “I remember that it was just Mr. Perlman and his accompanist, and although it was a wonderful concert, I thought the SSO should have been part of it. When he returned in 2015, I made sure that happened, and the reaction of the audience left me feeling very reassured it was the right decision.”
Feldman is also proud of the Syracuse Opera Aria Society’s initiative that provides OCC students with tickets to Syracuse Opera performances, and works to organize a night that brings middle and high school students to a dress rehearsal for the Opera at the Civic Center.
When asked if she is disappointed in anything she said; “Getting people out to events is always a challenge. Another problem is that it has become more difficult to get volunteers. There are not enough younger volunteers replacing the older folks. Without volunteers nothing works. I guess times are changing, but we keep on trying.” Vicki went on to say, “ I sit on several boards and have also seen a lack of involvement from many of the board members. I always wonder why those people volunteer to sit on a board if they do not participate.”
Then, Vicki Feldman said that her biggest concern is money. “I wish that all of our non-profit organizations did not have to constantly worry about money,” Vicki said. She explained how important the SSMA’s Encore Thrift Shop is.
The Encore Thrift Shop is the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association’s most successful full-time fundraiser, and the proceeds go to our annual grant funding. Encore is located in Fayetteville and recently celebrated 11 years in business. It is managed and staffed by volunteers. Donations of clothing, shoes, jewelry and small household items in very good condition are accepted during business hours, with all proceeds going towards the SSMA mission. Donation forms are available for tax purposes, and arrangements can be made for pick-up. Vicki was quick to point out that any merchandise the thrift shop receives that it cannot use is donated to Refugee Resettlement and/or other clothing donation programs.
Vicki Feldman has also been the Festival Coordinator for the Syracuse Jewish Music and Cultural Festival since 2008. She took on the responsibilities of the pre-festival fundraising event, marketing and designing and distributing the printed materials throughout the community.
She has also been on the Board of Trustees for Temple Concord since 2012, Fundraising Chair Person since 2013, and Chair of the monthly Temple Concord Goldenberg Music Series since 2008.
With all of this on her plate, Feldman also enjoys singing with the Syracuse Pops Chorus, and she volunteers as Hospice of CNY’s Arts and Crafts Director at Camp Healing Hearts, a grief camp for kids, for four days in August. Vicki has done this every year since 2006.
For all of these efforts, and more, Vicki Feldman has received many awards — awards that are very much deserved. The Feldmans live in Manlius and have two children and six grandchildren.
For information about the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association, or if you’d like to become involved, go to syracusesoundsofmusic.org.
To recommend someone with a stellar record of volunteering to be featured in this column contact Mel Rubenstein: email@example.com or 682-7162.