Every good organization thrives on good volunteers.
Kay Rosser and Kathy Folsom are poster women for all of those who give of their time to help make an organization succeed. Each woman estimates that they each have spent at least 50 years helping organizations.
Now, both women are stepping down as co-chairs of the Restoration Concert Series at the South Pasadena Library.
Folsom and her husband, Ron, are moving to Colorado, while Rosser will be spending four months of the year in South Pasadena and the other eight in Colorado.
Folsom said that although she has stepped down as co-chair, she will continue to help the committee long distance to hire musicians for the Restoration concerts.
They have worked so well together that they call themselves the “dynamic duo.”
“We’re a perfect match,” Folsom said. “I have the musical contacts and Kay handles the nuts and bolts.”
Folsom’s musical connections came from her husband, who is a professional violinist. And, for now, both Rosser and Folsom live two doors away from each other near Eddy Park.
“We don’t even have to call each other. We just wave,” one of them said.
Folsom has deep, deep roots in the community. Her great-grandparents moved into a home in South Pasadena in the Monterey Hills. They later built a home in 1912 that is still standing. Her grandmother went to Center School, which became El Centro School, in South Pasadena and was in the first class which attended South Pasadena High School. Her father graduated from there, as well as her children and a grandchild.
Rosser was born in North Dakota but has been in California since age 5. She was a teacher in South Pasadena in the 1960s, at Lincoln School and then Oneonta School.
Both women said that volunteering has always been a big part of their lives — whether it was a school organization, scouts or an organization in the Los Angeles area. Folsom remembers that her mother volunteered in her Brownie troop.
“We all marched in the Fourth of July parade down Mission Street,” she said. “I remember being totally mortified that while my mother was marching with us, she was waving and talking to her friends who were watching on the sidelines. To me, it was serious stuff.”
Folsom started volunteering for her son’s school and continued as a middle school PTA president. She also volunteered for nearly 50 years as a member of the Romberger Guild that helped support a group home for girls in South Pasadena.
Folsom and her husband will be moving later this summer.
“Now I’ll have an adventure somewhere else,” said Folsom, whose has a son and grandchild in Colorado.
Rosser has volunteered with the schools, at the library and with arts organizations. For 25 years, she worked at Plaza de la Raza in East L.A., a school for the performing arts. During the Los Angeles Summer Olympics year in 1984, she worked under opera director Peter Sellars on the L.A. Festival, which was designed to bring cultural events around the city. Rosser was the volunteer coordinator who recruited 2,000 people.
Many volunteers have a favorite story, and Rosser’s is a gem. In the late 1970s, the South Pasadena High School drama teacher asked for help. Her daughter was in the class and the goal was to create an indoor theater.
So, in addition to having a rummage sale, a play was performed called “Night of Comedy.” One of the acts was Folsom’s husband Ron doing a violin solo with a tuxedo top, but from the waist down he wore boxer shorts.
This brings us to both women getting involved in a music festival in South Pasadena. The event is now 25 years old, and grew out of a desire to put on a concert as part of the library’s 100th anniversary. Both women were part of the development of the concert, and by the seventh year, they were co-chairs of the project.
Both women cite the Brahms Festival, held two summers ago, as a true highlight of their library volunteer years.
“It was so exciting with fabulous musicians. It was everything we envisioned and more than we envisioned,” Folsom said. “To bring something like that together was unusually wonderful.”
The multi-day festival in the library sold out the seats in the community room as people came to hear artists who had come from all over the country to play together.
“It has all been a dream come true,” Folsom said.
The pandemic erased plans for a festival this summer, and there are no future plans for such a program at the library. But the restoration concert program is set for the fall, starting Sept. 12. However, for the first time in many years, the team of Kay and Kathy won’t be in charge.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be volunteering. Folsom said that she plans to give of her time and talents when she moves to Colorado later this summer, and Rosser said that she, too, has volunteer plans for the time she is in South Pasadena, possibly working in the bookstore.
Both women agreed that volunteerism has evolved over the years. They recall that when they were younger, they — like many women — were “stay-at-home moms.”
“Now there are more women in the work force and we’re seeing some stay-at-home dads,” Folsom said. “We’re seeing men volunteer in groups where they had never been involved before. More men of retirement age are getting involved, too.
“Young people are volunteering more because they need credit for community service in school,” she said.
Rosser, who is interested in the arts, said that volunteering is especially important these days as funding has often been cut dramatically.
“People want to help more these days if they love an organization,” Rosser said. “They want to give back.”
Every good organization thrives on good volunteers.