I once had an English instructor, who would say, that "The best word to use, when you can’t find any is: wow”. That’s exactly how I felt after looking up at the vast and intricate detail on the hand painted canvas frescos on the ceiling of Warnor’s Theater. It was as if we had all been transported back in time. To an era when gentlemen stood as a lady entered the room, soda was called pop, and adding sound to a black and white movie industry was a major technological advancement. I could feel the mink stole on my shoulders and Clark Gable on my arm. The air even smelled of dated elegance. The timeworn building seemed to echo the voices of Vaudeville performers of times long past. Never had I felt so much history and culture at once. Never had I learned so much about a place without one single, spoken word. “How is this the first time that I have been here?!?” I asked myself. “Why aren’t there people stumbling over each other to see this place?!” The answer is; very few people know that there exists such an incredible place in Fresno, even the Fresno natives.
It is the mission of the Warnor’s foundation to keep the doors of this incredible place open, for ALL to see. With the help of the Student Philanthropy Project at Fresno State; the foundation has made some huge steps towards ensuring that those doors will remain open for future generations. I applaud the foundation for soliciting and accepting the advice of students who are often generations younger than many of the board members. In fact, when we were standing on the stage, in the grand auditorium, the senior board members invited the help of my classmates, and myself, to help them better navigate facebook, and for some fresh, "young" ideas. I was quick to leave Sally Caglia my contact information.
The very next day, I received an email from Executive Director Jim Pacini Sr. inviting me to meet with him to see what I might be able to help with. I wanted to wait to blog about the experience at the Theater until I could include this experience as well. I was incredibly impressed with his passion and the new ideas that he was preparing to bring to the board for approval. He allowed me to take copies of what he was going to take to the board, and spoke candidly with me about issues facing the organization. I was asked not to share the new ideas until they had been taken to the board, and hopefully approved. I am confident that the board liked them as much as I did. I also feel that these ideas may have been inspired, at least in part, by Warnor’s connection with the Humanics program.
It was incredible to see the steps that the foundation is taking towards sustainability, and the commitment towards the mission that the staff obviously has. The entire experience has certainly made me an evangelist for the organization. Many organizations could take a cue from Warnor's in this area. Inspiring evangelists is a skill that not many organizations have, and one that stands to affect all aspects of an organization, especially fundraising. If we can only get donors through the doors of the Theater, and allow them to talk with one of the many passionate board members, the rest may just take care of itself. I hope to connect Jim with further resources that might help to ensure that those majestic doors do stay open for future generations—so that the kids of tomorrow can feel the history that I felt, simply by walking through them. I know that the Humanics program at Fresno State will continue to do so as well.