The Procession is created by the community–including hundreds of volunteers. I’ve been one of those volunteers since 2013, and every year I look for a new way to volunteer my time and energy into making our All Souls Procession as amazing, if not better than the one before. It’s been a journey that has brought me healing, creativity, community, and a profound sense of service. I thought I’d share my journey to give you some ideas of how you might get involved!
I began participating in the Procession in 2010 the same way most people do: by dressing up, walking in the Procession, and honoring my loved ones lost. It was fun and healing to get creative and look for new ways to express my grief and honor those who had passed. It was so healing in fact, that in 2013 I made the decision to increase my involvement.
I found out about the Volunteer Potluck that year and planned to attend. It was there I learned about Urn Ambassadors and that I could volunteer to be “the voice of the Urn.” I was ALL IN at that moment. Little did I know that was the beginning of a magnificent journey into creativity, culture, and community.
As an Urn Ambassador, I learned so much about the Procession! I learned how to work through my own grief to be able to help others through their grief. I learned information about the history of the Procession and all the details of the event to be able to answer questions from the community. I was able to create a costume that honored a dear friend who died much too young. And the day of the Procession I handed out small pieces of paper for the community to place a message or remembrance of a loved one in the Urn. Helping the community better understand why the Procession is held and why the Urn is so special was a great experience. So great, in fact, that I did it two years in a row!
Being an Ambassador for two years opened up an opportunity for me to start volunteering as an Urn Attendant–one of the people who escort the Urn and receive all of the community’s messages and remembrances. It is one of the greatest ways I give back to my community each year. It has been such a blessing for me and increased my own healing so much. We volunteer a lot of our time to prepare for the day of the Procession (about two months worth of preparation) that includes rehearsal time and COSTUME MAKING. I never thought of myself as a “creative” person until I became an Urn Attendant and started creating these magnificent costumes to fit the Procession’s theme each year. Every year, I visualize an idea, and make it a reality through lots of hard work, hot glue, and glitter!
I have such a love for the All Souls Procession that I knew I could not end my participation there. In 2016, I volunteered my time, my home, and my energy to holding a party as part of the Night of A Thousand Parties event to raise money for the Procession. I invited all my friends and family and had a game night! I showed videos about the procession, had prizes, and even an appearance from the All Souls Procession merchandise table! It was a huge success and we raised $500 for the Procession that night!
The following year, I again wanted to increase my involvement. I volunteered to decorate the mini-Urn used at the Procession of Little Angels and that is housed at the Columbarium the day of the Procession to accept messages to later be put into the larger Urn. With the Procession route moving to Barrio Hollywood, my home, it felt right to honor that change by decorating the mini-Urn with images of Tucson’s west side and downtown, to honor the Procession’s history and highlight it’s future. It was a great way to contribute to the Procession in a new and creative way. I also volunteered to canvas the neighborhood with flyers to let my neighbors know that the Procession was moving in and attended some neighborhood association meetings to ensure a smooth transition.
This year, I am volunteering my time and energy to help manage the All Souls Procession social media accounts, as well as continuing to serve as an Urn Attendant. I would love to continue on this path of increasing my participation each year and to experience every aspect needed to make the Procession such a successful event. I hope that you will join me and the rest of the All Souls Procession community in volunteering your time, energy, skill, creativity, and LOVE to provide Tucson with a spectacular, unique, and impactful experience.
If you are interested in finding out how you can volunteer, join us at the All Souls Procession Season Kick-Off Potluck on September 8th at 5pm at Rhythm Industry Performance Factory, 1013 S Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719. See you there!
One thought on “Guest Column: My Evolving Volunteer Experience, by Eva Peña”
Thank You so much for sharing your experience with all of us- You are the embodiment of the Mission of the Procession and the journey we are all on to find our particular piece of magic to offer our community.
also- you look real good in that fancy hat.
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