Dona and Jim Henry are a passionate couple who are eager about their love of volunteering and the theater. They want to tell their story in hopes to spread their mission.
Both Jim and Dona went to St. Mark’s Elementary School in Gary, but didn't end up meeting until 5th grade. They attended Andrean High School together, as well.
“We are childhood sweethearts, been married for forty years and have eight kids and ten grandkids,” Jim said.
At Andrean, theater sparked their interest. Due to this they continued to stay involved throughout their time in high school.
“Dona supported and watched me do theater. Then later in life, in our 30s, we joined the Community Theatre Guild, which was at the Memorial Opera House at the time, and now at Chicago Street Theater, “ Jim said.
Both Dona and Jim wear many hats within the community, especially in theater. Each have been involved in the business side of the theater, including Dona’s time as the Chairman and Trustee on the board. Jim has also been Chairman of the Artistic Committee at Chicago Street Theater while being an actor, playwright, and set constructor, as well.
“There's nothing I haven't done in the theater except for lights!” Dona said. “I do sound, backstage, acting, directing, stage management, costuming, props, all the pieces that are put together to make a production happen,” Dona said.
Dona and Jim volunteer heavily at the Chicago Street Theater, but also at Mental Health America in Porter County. Both are apart of the board with Jim previously serving as Chairman and Dona as Secretary and Treasurer.
“We spend time at MHA because mental health is a problem everywhere and we want to support that initiative to improve the services within our community,” Jim said.
Due to their catholic school background, Dona and Jim were used to seeing and being apart of the volunteering community. Both Andrean and St. Mark’s were very dependent on the volunteers in the community.
Jim believes school is where they learned the art of fundraising and discovered ways to truly get people's attention. This allowed them to talk with others and get them to believe in what they had to say.
“It was something I was used to seeing when I was growing up. We found that we enjoyed it a lot, and have gained a lot of lifelong friends from our volunteering efforts, so it's been great,” Dona said.
Their time spent at Mental Health America is based on their passion for the mission. They believe the mission is bridging the gap between what people generally think about mental health, with what it truly is.
“It’s a way to help those individuals who have any kind of mental health issues within their family. Some people think of mental health as some kind of affliction that they have, but we help with that type of counselling,” Dona explained.
“Everyone in their life will have to deal with someone dying, and MHA is there to help them with that loss. Give them advice when they need help in a particular situation, anything that causes anxiety in their life,” Dona continued.
They are both proud of their efforts and passion for mastering the art of volunteering within the health and arts community.
“We found something that we love. There is just something wonderful about what we are able to create, and how we are giving back to the community as far as art on stage,” Dona said. “It’s a great feeling for me when I direct”
Jim and Dona believe there are a lot of organizations that are completely reliant upon donations and volunteer efforts, which is why they think it is crucial to give back to the community.
“This is how the art in our community stays alive. So it’s the way we survive,” Jim expressed.
Both Jim and Dona Henry have mastered the art of volunteering due to their passion and love for the work they are doing. This type of outreach in a community is something everyone should consider. Their story lives on as they continue their efforts in the community.