Volunteer Spotlight: Debbie and Caroline Canally

September 6, 2017 by Natalie

written by Monica Chen

There are very few bonds as strong as the bond between a mother and daughter.

Debbie and Caroline Canally are great examples of just how true that statement is.

The duo began volunteering together at The Umbrella roughly eight years ago. Throughout the years, their roles at the center have changed. Debbie and Caroline have done everything from ushering at theater productions to manning concession stands, setting up classrooms, assisting a woodworking class, and working in the gardens.

Debbie first volunteered at The Umbrella with her oldest daughter Katherine and Caroline soon joined in helping out. Debbie and her daughters volunteered through the Middlesex Chapter of the National Charity League, a nonprofit organization of mothers and daughters who serve their community together. They have been members of the NCL for seven years.

“It’s nice time together,” says Debbie, when asked about what it’s like volunteering with her daughter. “You don’t get a lot of time together as your kids get older, so it’s nice time. We’re doing good things and hanging out together.”

Debbie, a certified K through 8 teacher, has always loved the arts and wanted to help out in any way she can with arts education and community building. “You hear about communities and school districts where they threaten to take the arts away first and I just feel like that’s so wrong and such an injustice,” says Debbie. “It’s being done throughout our country. I think we’re so fortunate to live in a community where the arts are supported and will continue to be supported and we’d like to be a part of that.”

Caroline, a current senior at Concord Carlisle High school, has been connected to the arts and The Umbrella from a young age. She was a part of the Alexander Children’s Theatre School with her sister Katherine when they were younger. Caroline also took a few art classes at The Umbrella when she was younger, which greatly influenced her current role volunteering with the center. Arts education in the community, in particular, is a very important topic to Caroline. “I do a lot in the arts,” says Caroline. “I’ve taken a weekly art class since third grade and I do photography in school, so I think [The Umbrella] is a good thing to have in the community. Of course we have classes in school, but as you get older I think it’s a good thing to have.”

Caroline’s dedication to the arts and community doesn’t end at The Umbrella. At school, she started a club called Humans of CCHS with the intention of connecting the arts to community building. The club takes snapshots of people’s lives complete with a photograph and a quote. She is also currently building an online arts portfolio to send in to college. She hopes to continue her art and photography into college, as well as explore other subjects and areas.

Outside of their time at The Umbrella, both Debbie and Caroline enjoy a variety of other activities. Debbie greatly enjoys gardening, bike riding, and travelling with her family. Caroline plays field hockey and loves photography.

Community service, however, continues to be a very important aspect of their lives. They hope to always be involved in volunteering and hope to make a bigger commitment to volunteering at The Umbrella in the future.

“We just want to say thank you to everyone here for everything they do,” says Debbie. “And to thank them for making this a wonderful community-centered place where people can express their creativity.”

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