Celebrating our Volunteers

April 1, 2022

Dear Phillips’ Mill Community,

This April 2022 issue of The Grist gets at the core of our organization. We are run by volunteers. That’s been true for 93 years. What an impressive accomplishment!

We’re fortunate to live in a community that has so many people who are so dedicated to the arts that they are willing to give countless hours to put up shows of fine art, photography and theater. Together we’ve celebrated the works of painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, performers and playwrights. A small army of volunteers works year-round to bring you several shows of their work. I’d like to call your attention now to the people who make those shows possible. They do everything from planning and logistics to tech support, facilities maintenance, communications, graphic design, event planning and more. The skills they bring to the service of the arts range from the humble to the highly skilled—all are appreciated and vital to our mission.

The work we do is challenging and time-consuming. But more than that, it is a pleasure. We have a good time together and with all of the talented people we serve. We have the satisfaction of the work we do.

To all of our volunteers at Phillips’ Mill, thank you sincerely for your time and efforts, and thank you for your friendship. To those of you who haven’t yet volunteered, we invite you to join us.

– Laura Womack, President, Phillips' Mill Community Association

Cheers to Volunteers!

Although it goes without saying that we appreciate the work of all of our volunteers every day, we are taking this opportunity to say thank you to the following individuals who have donated so much of their time and energy to the Phillips’ Mill Community Association.

This is the first in a series of volunteer spotlights. We will be featuring more of our amazing volunteers in future issues of The Grist.

Nora Odendahl

Like a number of our volunteers, Nora first became aware of the Mill as an artist submitting work to one of our juried shows. That was back in the 90s, and while she can’t recall exactly which years her work was accepted to the juried Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition, she does remember how exciting it was to see it hung on the walls of the historic Mill.

“I got involved with the Photo Committee in 2019, at a time when Spencer (Saunders) was striving to infuse new excitement into the program, with talks and other ancillary activities related to the exhibition,” she says. “It seemed like the right time to get involved.”

It also turned out to be right before the pandemic. Little did she, or any of us, know how much that would change the way we view artwork and communicate with one another. As digital communications, as well as online submissions and exhibitions, became the norm, Nora became an integral part of that transition. She, along with Samuel Vovsi, created a database of photographers, art centers and photography clubs, and began sending regular emails. Nora also assumed responsibility for editing and publishing the extensive Phillips’ Mill Photo newsletter twice a year, which has been a key way the committee has promoted individual artists’ works and accomplishments. She looks forward to growing and participating in its new members’ show, which follows the juried exhibition.

“They are two completely different shows, which gives us an opportunity to bring the works of more local artists, as well as those from a larger geographic area, to the public in a setting that is very attractive, historic and meaningful.”

Patrick and Mary Fowler

Patrick and Mary Fowles are longtime members of the Mill who graciously hosted the Lathrop Circle event last year. They have both been Lathrop Circle members since its inception.

Patrick is the current Vice President of Phillips' Mill Community Association. He is also Chair of the Nominations and Bylaws committees, and a member of the Executive and Membership committees. A member since 1969, he is actively involved in many of the day-to-day operations of the Mill, from sending emails to archiving content. During the 1970s, he was active in the drama program, running the lights and sound for many of the shows. He designed, built and installed the current Mill theatrical lighting and sound systems, as well as digitized all analog and VHS show recordings and created 100-year archival versions of these and more recent CD recordings. If that wasn’t enough, he also painted and installed the Mill signage and rebuilt the stonework on the exposed Mill corner wall several times after truck damage.

“Patrick’s gentlemanly, thoughtful presence on the Board and in our community brings an elevated tone, especially when negotiating different opinions and ideas about how to move our organization forward,” says Laura Womack, President of Phillips' Mill Community Association.

Mary is the past Co-Chair and member of the Square Dance Committee, past Co-Chair of the Youth Drama Committee and past director/producer of several Youth Drama shows and facilitator of the Mill Forum Committee. She has stepped up to organize many of our special events, and is always looking for help in doing so.

Reni Fetterolf

Reni joined the Phillips’ Mill Community Association in the mid-1970s, and it wasn’t long before she became fully immersed. She worked on the 50th Retrospective Catalog and soon joined the Art Committee, which she co-chaired several times in the 1980s. In addition, Reni chaired the Membership Committee and served several terms on the Board, including during the ’90s when Phillips’ Mill was working hard to become a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation.

In 2005, she was a member of the 75th Anniversary Art Retrospective Committee. “The 75th Catalog was a lot of work, but also great fun,” she remembers. “Janet Hunt and I were in charge of choosing the artists to be included in the catalog.” In fact, they wrote the foreword to the catalog, a stunning 159-page book, which has since sold out at the Mill.

Reni later served on the committee for a New Year’s Eve dinner dance held to welcome the 21st century. “The Millennium Party was a blast,” she recalls. Another favorite was a special party devoted to Mill members’ favorite paintings. For this event, members were asked to lend their paintings by a Phillips’ Mill artist for a show and kick-off party.

For Reni, being an Art Committee member has been a great learning experience. “Meeting and making interesting friends,” she adds, “has been an excellent bonus.”

Kevin Nalty

Marketing guru, brand master, playwright, YouTube sensation, comedian, devoted father of four and occasional magician. These are just some of the descriptors that sum up the whole package that is Kevin “Nalts” Nalty. But he is more likely to call himself silly, fun loving and passionate about live theater.  

Kevin “fell” into volunteering at Phillips’ Mill several years ago when a tree, belonging to his next-door neighbor and Phillips’ Mill Drama Committee Chair Valerie Eastburn, toppled into his backyard. The two became fast friends, along with their families. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s kids became involved in the Youth Drama program. Not content to simply tag along, he immersed himself in the program, singing, acting and even doing magic tricks during performances.

Over the years, he has also written or co-written a number of the shows, many of which are archived on the Phillips’ Mill website. You can check them out here.

Better yet, you can come to one of the May 2022 performances of “Marriage: What’s Love Got to Do with It” to see the Phillips’ Mill Players perform his and seven other one-act plays.

“Kevin is truly one of the very funniest people I know. Genius kind of funny. On par with Monty Python and Mel Brooks. He always makes me laugh,” says Valerie, who co-wrote some of the shows with him. “I think of him as a Man for All Seasons—always at the ready when it comes to theatrics at the Mill.”


Volunteering is a great way to build your skills, boost your self-esteem, increase your network, cultivate a sense of purpose, have fun and make friends. And some studies show that it might help to reduce stress. And who doesn’t need less stress?

Phillips’ Mill is currently seeking volunteers with an interest in and skills for fundraising, technical work, writing and organizing special events. “We always welcome volunteers to join our Art, Photo, Preservation, Youth Art and Drama committees. There are so many opportunities to shine,” adds Laura Womack.

Interested individuals can contact us by clicking on the link below.

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus