NEWBERRY — Shirley Aughtry turned her love of people and Newberry into a job by working as an ambassador for the Newberry Opera House (NOH).
Since retiring from Packaging Corporation of America, Aughtry has spent the past two years volunteering at the Opera House, ushering and giving tours to visitors.
Just shy of two years ago, Aughtry said a friend of hers that also works at NOH called to tell her about the volunteer opportunities.
She stopped in, went through training and the rest was history.
Aughtry can now be found in the lobby of the Newberry Opera House on Mondays from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. so visitors can stop by and get a free tour.
The one thing Aughtry emphasized about her work as an ambassador is that she absolutely loves and looks forward to coming to work each week. She loves the interesting people that she interacts with while working.
Aughtry recalled meeting two ladies, one from Ireland and the other from London, who visited there while in Newberry with relatives. She also recently met a couple from Paris who stopped at South Carolina’s visitor’s center looking for historic places to visit and discovered NOH.
Overall Aughtry believes it’s the intimacy that brings people to the opera house, whether that be from a patron or performer’s perspective.
“The environment allows for a crowd, but even the farthest seats are only 40 feet away from the stage,” she said.
Another positive of the establishment Aughtry said was the wonderful staff, which is a reason she believes the opera house is so successful.
“When you come to a show here (NOH), it’s up close and personal,” Aughtry said.
The closest opera houses to Newberry are in Sumter and Abbeville, although Aughtry said they only showed local plays.
While giving tours, Aughtry has the opportunity to tell visitors about the building’s history, as it was once used as city government offices. She is currently in the process of locating old photographs of the building’s interior during that time. If anyone has those, Aughtry asks that they contact the opera house.
With the opera house beginning it’s seventeenth season this September, Aughtry said it was a good time to volunteer.
The best volunteers, Aughtry said, were those with a passion for Newberry and the Newberry Opera House. For those interested in ushering, Aughtry said it was a great opportunity to see the shows as a part of that position.
For more information about volunteering and other questions about NOH call 276-6264.