Getting my Start with Volunteering

[Editor's note: This is a guest blog by writer Heidi Chun. You can learn more about her at the bottom of this post.]

I often have people ask me how I got so involved in the community. I volunteered many years ago to be the “Recycling Block Leader” in my neighborhood. I was supposed to put a sign in my front yard to remind the neighbors that the next day was recycling. I was also expected to answer questions about what items could and couldn’t be recycled. It was a fun little volunteer job, but it really didn’t require much of me; my neighbors never really had any questions for me and I was sort of disappointed.

I wanted more. In 2004 I decided to help out at the Art & Wine Festival. That was the first year I had ever been a volunteer for the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival. I was assigned to a ticket and glass booth with some nice local people. By the end of our shift we were all best friends. It was so much fun a few days later to see the same people at the Volunteer Appreciation party.

A few years later I wanted to find a fun summer job and I remembered that the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce was the organizer of the Art & Wine Festival. I remember calling the Chamber and speaking to the office manager, Doris. I told her that I wanted a summer job working on the festival. Within a few weeks the Chamber gave me an office and I was booking the stage acts for Kid’s Park, recruiting volunteers, ordering trash dumpsters for the event, buying festival insurance, hiring day-workers, and deciding on colors for the Art & Wine festival t-shirts. I remember that they called me “the intern” for a few weeks until I complained. “I don’t want to be an intern. I’m planning a major festival and the word ‘intern’ isn’t appropriate. Besides, I’m a grown-up, not a kid. Interns are usually kids.”

And that’s when I was told that I was being promoted to the Festival Director and that they would hire me 2 interns to help with the festival. I was almost concerned that I was in-over-my-head—I had never even planned a wedding, much less a major festival! But I didn’t let them know I was scared. That was in 2006 and I still have the award that says “Mountain View Art and Wine Festival / Silicon Valley’s Best Festival in 2006 from Silicon Valley Concierge Association.”

Being a volunteer for the festival led to me being an intern a few years later. Being an intern for a few weeks led to a promotion and the title of Festival Director. It’s been 6 years and I’m still on staff at the Chamber, but my role has changed quite a bit. I’m the writer for the website and I love my job. We have a fabulous Special Events person, Katrina, who plans the festival. I still volunteer for the festival every year. I know all about what it takes to put on an event that large, because I’ve done it. Believe me, it is lots more fun being a volunteer in a beer booth or pouring wine.

I really want to thank GoVoluntr for helping the Chamber of Commerce recruit the many community volunteers that it takes to execute an event this large. It would be impossible to have our festival without community volunteers. It sure does feel good to volunteer. Follow me on GoVoluntr. I’m VID #254.

Please contact the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce if you’re interested in purchasing an official Art & Wine t-shirt from the festival. The super comfy t-shirts are cherished in our community and they’re only $5.00. That’s an amazing deal.

Heidi Chun
Writer for
Mountain View Chamber of Commerce