It’s hard to see how Brandi Host has time to volunteer for Lotus – but she does. Brandi has been a stalwart festival volunteer, and is now on the board of directors for the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation. We asked her to talk about why she does it. {Above: Brandi pours concrete on a Habit for Humanity build in El Salvador; photo courtesy Ann Schertz Photography}

When I’m not a Lotus volunteer, I’m …

the manager of the Indiana University Memorial Union hotel. I get to welcome visitors to Bloomington from all over the world, everyday. I love Bloomington and IU, and I like being the first person people meet. I feel the same way about Lotus.

What makes me happy in my spare time?

I like to take my dog, Krista Blue, for long walks. And then there’s good food, and cooking – I love to cook. And when I’m cooking, I listen to music. Always.

Brandi (left) helps greet festival goers at the Information Tent

My first Lotus volunteer gig was …

managing the festival store in 2002. [Lotus Executive Director] Lee Williams asked me if I would step in to help when a longtime volunteer had to leave that role. Lee said, “I’ve got a big position to fill, and I think you’re the person for it.” I jumped in with both feet. It was very hectic, but we sold a heck of a lot of CDs. In the last few years, my work schedule on the festival weekend became more demanding – fall is a busy time at the IMU hotel, especially on weekends. I had to step away from managing the festival store, but I’ve had other roles, including ticket sales and helping at the information tent. Recently, I became a board member. Back when I was volunteering at the festival store, my husband, Steve, was my support team — bringing food and extra comfortable shoes, walking the dog, washing my volunteer shirt — but now, he’s a festival volunteer himself.

The best thing about being a Lotus volunteer is …

the sense of accomplishment. I also take great pride in the way the volunteer corps has developed. At our orientations, the training is more thorough than in some jobs I’ve had. That makes for a positive volunteer experience. I mean, it takes a village to put on the festival.

Brandi (third from right) with her cohorts on a volunteer planning committee

My most memorable Lotus volunteer moment was …

I can’t pick just one moment, but what was really cool about managing the store was meeting different artists, one on one, and getting positive feedback about the experience at Lotus and in Bloomington. I got to be a Lotus ambassador. It’s also a blast to see Lotus artists out and about on festival weekend. One time, I wound up having breakfast in the Uptown Cafe next to one of my favorite Lotus bands, the Waifs [from Australia].

Aside from Lotus, I also volunteer for …

Habitat for Humanity. I do the annual Women Build, and last November, I traveled to El Salvador for a build. We poured foundations and walls for five homes. {See photo at top.} Physically, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but amazingly satisfying. It’s another powerful volunteer experience, just like Lotus.

I make time to volunteer because …

Compared to the regular stresses of a day job, being able to do something you don’t normally do is liberating. It gives me perspective, with the added bonus of being able to give back to my community. And the new friendships I’ve made through volunteering, the camaraderie – it makes Bloomington an even better place to live.

Want to find out more about volunteering for Lotus? See the Volunteer section of our site, or send an e-mail to volunteer [at] lotusfest [dot] org  — we’ll add you to our mailing list.