Day 5 – A Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer
It is an honor to introduce you to Dick Wood, a long-time Fountain Streeter who volunteers as a Technical Consultant. Dick, a lover of all things musical and techy, has been volunteering here for over two decades.
How long have you been volunteering at FSC?
I started volunteering in 1988!
What got you started?
I joined the FSC Choir in 1973. After having spent some time in the Choir, a need arose for someone to step up to work with sound and radio. Maynard Brackney, a late FSC volunteer, had taught me a bit about audio work. By the time I stepped in, video had come along, and it was a totally different animal. Getting used to working with video was very difficult, and I fought all those dragons every week to keep things going. While I eventually decided to do AV volunteer work exclusively, I consider the Choir a marvelous family to be a part of. Once you join it, you do not want to leave it.
What do you love about working with AV?
The feeling that I am documenting something. I am documenting activities that are very unique, not only to this community but to anywhere in the world. We do church like no one else does church. Some would say that’s a positive or a negative. Even when we do something and it’s a miss, we still have the guts to do something different. Video gets the good, the bad, and the ugly of what we do. A message will not be heard without AV assistance. Working with other volunteers to help get their messages out is what I like. I don’t need recognition for it. Most volunteers will say that. I love doing something that I think enhances the life of the church. People can hear and see the events that go on here, and that is important.
What is one of your most distinct memories of FSC?
Restoration was being done on the wall over the Sanctuary’s rose window one summer. In one moment, I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be fun to document this on camera?” With an old style camera that I perched on my shoulder, I was put in a bucket and pulled to the top of the rose window. I was dropped off on the scaffolding to document the restoration. There are very few things that have scared me more than that. I guarantee it will never happen again, but I got some great video!
Tell us about a current project you are working on!
Right now, we’re digitizing the tapes that hold old FSC footage onto DVDs because the tapes are going to start degrading. I have a food dehydrator that I use to bake the moisture out of these tapes, (for 6 hours at 130 degrees), so that they will play again. We have little snippets of Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Ashley Montagu, Robert Frost, Carl Levin, William Sloane Coffin, and many more great men and women. I mean, we had people here who couldn’t speak anywhere else. There was no orderly documenting of events before I started. We had all sorts of stuff floating around the building. We needed a spot to put everything in. We took the room behind the Sanctuary and are currently using it to store everything.
What are your future goals?
I’m concentrating on the video, but at some point, there are sermons that exist only on a cassette tape that I’d like to convert as well. We still have 400-500 services still left to go on discs. My ultimate goal is to make FSC’s recorded materials as available as possible. I want to make them available to anyone who has an interest in this place.
What have you learned from your many years as an FSC volunteer?
First of all, you have to be flexible. Things can change and will at the last minute. Be open to new ideas, which to me is what the word “liberal” is all about. I try not to be afraid of being wrong. A lot of people in their 20's and 30's are so afraid of making the wrong decisions, but a certain number of your decisions are bound to be wrong. You deal with it. Don’t worry about how you got there; worry about how you’ll act once you’re there.
What advice would you offer for current or future volunteers?
Just go ahead and dive in. Most likely you’re going to meet a lot of people who are just as unsure of themselves are you are.
Why do you consider yourself a Fountain Streeter?
First of all, this is my church. I feel very comfortable here, and I do not belong elsewhere because I wonder about people being so sure about themselves. No, I’m not sure at all, but I’m willing to keep the door open. I love being here among a lot of other people who aren’t very sure about what’s out there. The answers aren’t nearly as important as the questions. Plus, a lot of my interest lies in coming back to see what happens next, kind of like Downton Abbey.