Category Archives: Volunteer Spotlights


Since one of our very own is a nominee in the Helpline Center’s Spirit of Volunteerism Awards coming up May 10,  what better time than to feature her in our Volunteer Spotlight for the month? We are so glad to have you in the JAM family, and grateful for all that you do for us, Shanda! It is passionate, creative, community-focused art advocates like you that make us who we are.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?:

I am a Minnesota girl, born and raised. I have lived in Mesquite, Nevada, a small desert town, and in Las Vegas, a not-so-small desert town (that is where booth my kids were born). I have a son and a daughter, and when we’re not busy with hockey, or my daughter’s sports, we love to go to the Washington Pavilion, Museum of Visual Materials and all the great parks. I love to bake and make healthy comfort food.

How long have you been a volunteer at JAM? 

I have been a volunteer at JAM for 10 months now.

What do you do at JAM?

I do a few different things at JAM. First, I am the Volunteer Coordinator, and do a training class every other Sunday at 11:00 am and every other Monday At 11:00 am and 6 pm (those times will change in the future). Second, I volunteer in the store one day a week putting away donations, talking about JAM to customers that stop in for the first time, and help people with their shopping. It’s great because my kids can come with me, and it gives them a chance to gain some good work skills and a work ethic, as well as make cool things. When I was able to, I would be at JAM almost everyday. It was great. Third, I love going to events around town during the summer and working our booth, talking about JAM and doing crafts.

How did you hear about JAM, and what made you get involved?

I heard about JAM by stopping in one day after driving by it for almost a year, and thinking it was another pricey art store I could not afford. Boy, was I wrong. I was amazed by all the different supplies you can get, and I could afford everything in the store. When I started shopping there it was during a rough time in my life, and it became my happy place. I started slowly thinking of doing art again. At that time I was just crafting for my kids’ birthday parties. I started volunteering because I was in there so often, and knew Jess needed help. I wanted to be involved with such a cool place, and have been helping at least once a week ever since.

What is your favorite part about volunteering at JAM?

I love when people come into JAM for the first time and are excited about the store; they think its such a cool idea. I also love hearing the cool projects and ideas people have, and what they are making with our stuff. And I love doing JAM booth events, and sharing JAM with everyone.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at JAM?

Stop thinking and start doing! We offer a training class once a week at different times, and it’s between 30 minutes to an hour. We are always in need of volunteers. We have so many different tasks that need to be done that anyone can find something they will enjoy sharing their time doing. You can be in the store and run it, you could put donations away, clean up the backroom, sort through boxes. You can lead birthday parties/craft parties, lead/help art camps for kids, and that is naming just a few things to do. We ask for 8 hours a month, but if all could do is an hour a month that would be great, too. It is such a great place to be, and you will meet awesome people.

What is your art background?

Besides high school art classes, I am a self-taught artist and learning every day. I read a lot of art books of all kinds about everything. I do mixed media, and really love working with chalk. I also make rugs and pillows using old clothing. I am just getting out there in the art community.

Any projects that you are currently working on?

I am going to start selling my rugs and other crafts, as well as my art pieces. So, I have been working on perfecting my craft and art skills.


Volunteer Spotlight: Sara Bainter

The Volunteer Spotlight is a new series here on the JAM blog and I am a new blogger, so it’s a perfect match. You may be asking yourself what is the Volunteer Spotlight? Well, let me tell you. Each month we will pick one of the wonderful volunteers here at JAM and ask them many different questions about volunteering, their lives and any projects they’re excited about and want to share with us.

Ideally, I want to sit down face-to-face with my interviewee over a hot cup of tea, unfortunately for my first interview that wasn’t exactly how it went. Our busy schedules kept us apart, but email brought us together.  Say hello to the wonderful artist and poet, Sara Bainter, whom I have the pleasure of volunteering with at JAM.

Here it goes…

Shanda: How long have you been a volunteer at JAM? And why did you get involved?

Sara: I officially started volunteering January 2017? I started getting involved because I knew it would be a great place to volunteer and give back to a community that I felt like had already given so much to me artistically and otherwise since I moved here in March 2016.

What is the best part for you about volunteering at JAM?

The best part is getting to see all of the people who are shocked at the low price of their craft or art supplies, and are going home to create! I also love watching people’s reactions as they leave Exposure Gallery. It’s just a great feeling to experience it first hand.

What do you do at JAM?

I goof off or doodle a huge percentage of the time, and sometimes I put donations out like I’m supposed to. I like to help with Weird Art Wednesdays when I can. I love watching people of all ages come in and use art supplies for free for two hours while we work on creating projects together!

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at JAM?

You will be so appreciated and needed! Please help. (laughs out loud)

What is your art background?

I feel like that’s a very long story that maybe I should write. But it starts with me being very bored, isolated and lonely in Winner, South Dakota.

What project are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

Right now I’m in the middle of moving and turning my bedroom into an art installation to facilitate more dreaming and imagining.

You have a book coming out soon, tell us a little about that.

Campfire Poetry is the paraphrased journey of heartbreak, devastation and hope, which I illustrated with various mixed media. There is a guest illustration by Christopher Reistroffer! My intention is to give creative control of the lyrics to many different bands and see what comes out of those ideas and performances!

You have beautiful illustration in your book. What came first to you, the paintings or the words?

Thank you! The words definitely came first. It seems like suddenly poetry bled from every pore and I didn’t know when it would stop.

What emotions will be triggered while reading your book?

I’m hoping some people will feel empathy. Maybe others will feel like they are not the only ones with these experiences. I want hope to be a big part of the Campfire Poetry experience.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book? And what was the most rewarding part?

The challenging part of writing is in experiencing conflict worthy of inspiring others. I don’t think I have to talk specifically about what I went through, but I do have to talk about falling down and getting back up in the unique way that I did. I felt like I had no other choice than to write this book, and once it started coming together, I felt a deep responsibility to share it with others in hopes that it will help them.

How does it feel to finally have it done and in your hands?

I really only have had access to the only copy of the proof, and even though I had to change and fix a lot of things, it woke me up and I felt an even deeper responsibility to get the book into the hands of the right people.

Where and when can we buy your book?

The first copies of campfire poetry get here on November 6th. It will be available on Just search Campfire Poetry or Sara Bainter… or stop me in the street and demand a copy because I will have some on me when they come out!


If you would like to volunteer at JAM our next hour-long training session will be Monday October 30th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Must be 18 years old to volunteer alone, but under 18 can volunteer with a parent! You can find more info here.