The popcorn is popping. Money is being counted. And upstairs, the projectors are warming up. When you attend an event at the Capitol Theater put on by the Olympia Film Society, you are there just to enjoy the show. We often don’t think about all the work that happens before, during and after our arrival. And behind each amazing event, are hard-working volunteers who love what they do.

Lesley Bell

Lesley Bell started volunteering at the Olympia Film Society (OFS) because she was looking for something worthwhile to fill her spare time. Being an avid cinema fan, she found that OFS was a great fit for her. She has always been curious about how things work behind the scenes of a theater and this was her chance. She works in the concessions, selling popcorn, candy and other movie snacks. She also performs other duties as needed.

“I like the sense of community and the interaction with customers and people who work here,” Bell says. Since she spends her work days in a cubicle, volunteering gives her a chance to talk to people and socialize.

Volunteering comes with perks you might not expect. “I worked as an ID checker for the Macklemore concert a few years back,” Belle explains. “I was standing where I could see the stage! The show sold out in 45 minutes, but I got to be there for free.”

She also looks forward to the annual Oscars celebration where everyone dresses up, watches the awards ceremony and takes photos with an Oscar statue.

“Since it’s volunteer run, everyone wants to be here,” Bell adds. “It’s a fun environment.”

Richard Hoffman and Kayli Hardcastle

Olympia Film Society Max In Box Office
Richard Hoffman and Kayli Hardcastle look forward to spending their shift together each week. Photo credit: Haleigh Missildine

Ever wondered who runs the projectors up at the top? Meet Richard Hoffman and Kayli Hardcastle, two teenagers – and best friends – who keep everything running smoothly.

Hoffman got started a little over a year ago. He was just looking for a movie schedule when volunteer director, Morgan Picton, asked if he was interested in volunteering.

“I didn’t even know it was volunteer run,” Hoffman says.

Hoffman started out working downstairs, doing tickets, concessions and box office and then became interested in projecting. He talked to the on-staff projectionist and got trained. Hardcastle joined soon after.

“It’s really fun,” Hardcastle says. “We get to see movies we’d never watch otherwise.” Olympia Film Society plays movies that a lot of regular theaters do not pick up, so it is always interesting to see what plays.

For students who want job experience or need volunteer credits, Olympia Film Society is a great way to get both, according to Hoffman and Hardcastle.

While the atmosphere is pretty laid back and friendly, things sometimes break down, leaving Hoffman and Hardcastle scrambling.

“We’re running around, trying to figure stuff out and putting out proverbial fires,” Hoffman says.

“It’s easy once you get the hang of it,” Hardcastle says about projecting. “There’s a lot of little things to pay attention to though.”

“We’re probably two of the youngest people who volunteer here,” Hardcastle suggests. Despite the age difference, everyone is treated fairly, and everyone gets along well. “There’s not a lot of drama,” Hardcastle adds.

And the best part? Volunteering alongside a friend.

Max Gordon

Olympia Film Society Max In Box Office
Max Gordon sits in the box office, ready to sell tickets to the 2:30 showing of Crown Heights. Photo Credit: Haleigh Missildine

You will find Max Gordon sitting in the box office, selling you your tickets. When he moved from Lacey to Olympia, he decided to volunteer. He was already a member of OFS.

“I volunteer because I get a chance to get on the inside and learn about what’s happening in the community,” Gordon explains.

Gordon is an avid volunteer in general. Aside from OFS, he also volunteers at the Olympia Food Co-op and for the Washington Trails Association. He works a day job at the Department of Ecology, which he feels his volunteering fits in well with.

“I’ve volunteered most of my adult life because I really like to help people,” Gordon adds. “Volunteering makes people happier. There are mental and physical health benefits to it.”

Gordon looks forward to the Repeal Prohibition Day every December, which is an event to celebrate the repeal of prohibition in Washington State. He worked security for the event last year and really enjoyed how people got into it and dressed up.

Olympia Film Society Capitol Theater
Capitol Theater was built in 1924 and is one of Olympia’s most loved buildings. Photo credit: Olympia Film Society

Several volunteers mentioned the unique building, which opened in the 1920s. “It has a lot of glamour and a lot of story,” Gordon says. “I like that I’m joining that history by participating here and keeping it going as long as I can.”

It was easy to tell that Gordon – along with the rest of the volunteers – truly enjoy what they do at the Olympia Film Society and have become close with each other.

Interested in volunteering? There are three ways you can sign up: the quickest is by signing up via the Volunteer Management System. You can also email volunteer@olympiafilmsociety.org or call 360-754-6670 ext. 21. For more information, visit the Olympia Film Society’s volunteer website.

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