Most people who know Janie McCall and myself assume we became friends through the Thunderheads, fans of the popular musical group Celtic Thunder. The group has helped to create many friendships across the country, but that is not the case with Janie and me. We needed a little extra help to get us together. It is a story we love to share whenever the opportunity arises because I think initially we also thought it was Celtic Thunder that brought us together until we explored the genesis of our friendship.
The first time I met Janie was at a Celtic Thunder pledge night at HoustonPBS. I was just joining the Houston Thunderheads and basically I just gave her my pertinent contact information and we went our separate ways. As head of the Houston Thunderheads, she was busy seeing that everyone was there doing what they needed to be doing and of course, George and Ryan were in the house, so there was a lot of excitement.
Our second meeting also involved a PBS pledge night for Celtic Thunder; this time we were in Dallas at KERA. The Dallas Thunderheads needed a few more people to answer phones and we had both volunteered. Not knowing anyone else was coming from the area, I enlisted my sister to be my travel buddy while Janie travelled with another Houston Thunderhead. We talked some after the program was over as a group of us walked back to the hotel and again the next morning as Janie and her friend kept my sister and myself company as we ate breakfast. Of course, the entire conversation was about Celtic Thunder. This was the first time I actually had a chance to talk about the group with someone as obsessed with them as I was. It was a great conversation but after it was over, we both went our separate ways and that was that.
As they say," the third time's the charm" and that was the case for Janie and me. As a member of the Director's Circle, I had been invited to work the phones for a pledge program. I jumped at the chance, and as I pulled the door to the station open, I saw Janie sitting in a chair in the lobby. It seems we shared a second passion...supporting PBS, HoustonPBS in particular. Janie was also a Director's Circle member and like me, tried to volunteer at the station whenever she could. We began talking in the lobby and I don't think we stopped talking the rest of the evening except when we were on the phones. If I remember correctly, we worked the phones for a Doo-Wop program and had a blast. I don't remember laughing so much with one person. We found we had a lot more in common than Celtic Thunder.
That night was truly the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and it had absolutely nothing to do with Celtic Thunder. We weren't Thunderheads that night, just two people who supported HoustonPBS. Without that in common, our friendship might not have developed into what it is today. For that fact alone, HoustonPBS will always be special to me. Janie and I have taken a couple out-of-state trips together, something I know I would not have done without her by my side. In fact, we have a third trip planned for March. We also love a variety of music and have attended a number of concerts together, most with seats purchased through HoustonPBS. One would think we've known each other all our lives.
For any of you who have been thinking of volunteering at HoustonPBS, I encourage you to do so, whether it be answering phones, stuffing letters, or anything else. It is worth the trip to the studio. All of the staff are just the nicest people and make you feel welcome as soon as you enter the building. They obviously appreciate their volunteers and want you to have a good time while there. When you see the volunteers answering phones during pledge periods, those smiles, that laughter are all real. They are all having a wonderful time. I can't remember how many times I've been to the studio now but each time, I walk away with a smile. Janie and I know a lot of the staff by name and it's almost like coming home each time we visit.
I cannot promise that you will walk away from volunteering with a new life-long friend as Janie and I did, but I can promise you will have a good time; you will meet new people; and you will be helping a wonderful organization. That in itself is reason enough to volunteer.