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Service Activity


One of the many advantages to being involved on campus, is having the opportunity to participate in various acts of community service.  This paper was written in my Oganizaitonal Communicaiton in Communities class  about a sevice project that we did at Dollywood this past semester.

Nick Palmer




Dollywood Reflection




November 21, 2008





                The program that I assisted for VSA was the performance at Dollywood on October 10th of this year.  This was a great experience for me to get a hands on experience of non-profit work for a large organization.  Our team was able to learn non-profit management skills though our experience.

                Our team consisted of, Jen, Shaun, Trent, Dede, and myself.  We drove form Murfreesboro to Dollywood the afternoon before and checked into the hotel.  None of us knew what to expect the next day, and we went to sleep with the unknown anticipation of wondering exactly what we would be doing.  We woke up the early the next morning, ate breakfast at Denny’s and caravanned to Dollywood for our volunteer work.

                When we arrived we set up our station just outside the gate to the park.  Our job was to give tickets to the group leaders whose organizations were there to view the performance.  Traffic at our station was never bad and the atmosphere was very casual.  While we were working the gate we engaged in a great conversation with Dr. Cynthia Watkins, who is in charge of the special education graduate program at Belmont University.  Dr. Watkins talked with us about the program they had at Belmont and also spoke about the great benefits and satisfaction of non-profit work.

                After all the organization had come to pick up their tickets, we were able to do the most satisfying fixation of the trip, that is give the tickets away to people coming in the gate.  We targeted families with lots of children.  We knew that tickets were expensive to the park so we figured they would benefit from the free tickets more than anyone.  At first when we gave the families the tickets they thought we were scalping them.  We had to let them know just what exactly where the tickets came from, and told them about VSA.  We encouraged everyone to go to the performance, but unfortunately, I do not think many of them did because the performance was near an end at this point.

                After giving out the remainder of the tickets, we broke down our station and watched the rest of the performance.  We could attend around 30 minutes of it but there were some truly mesmerizing performances by individuals with disabilities.   At the conclusion of the performance we picked up the reflection surveys that we had given to the organizations leaders when they received their tickets and we were free to go venture the park at our own leisure. 

                We decided to venture the park and had a great time.  We rode a few rides and roller coasters, got some good food, and decided to call it a day and drive back to Murfreesboro.  I know I had a really good time doing this project but I know I was just a small part of it.

What I Learned:

                I learned that it takes a lot of work and many volunteers to conduct an event such as this.  You have to be able to book the venue, get the performers, find volunteers and an audience, and get the money to do it all.  It is an enormous amount of work for the event planner.  You also have to put a lot of trust in the untrained volunteers; this would be very hard for me because I like to have my foot in everything when I’m working on an event. 


                This is something that I really enjoyed and would like to do again.  I have done a lot of volunteer work for several organizations since I have been in college, and I can not think of a time when it was completely miserable.  It is always nice to have that personal satisfaction that you helped someone or something in a positive way.  Non-profit work is something I am passionate about and am looking


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