To volunteer is a noble thing, but to impact the culture of an organization is truly remarkable. That’s exactly what volunteer Lloyd Pond has done at Austin Classical Guitar (ACG). While he’s dedicated thousands of volunteer hours with the organization and saved the group tens of thousands of dollars, anyone who’s spent time with him will tell you that his largest impact isn’t measured in either of those categories.
“How can you sum up years of selfless, dedicated volunteer service?” asks ACG executive director Matt Hinsley. “Lloyd has given to Austin Classical Guitar in so many ways, so extensively, that it is hard to imagine ACG without him. From repairing instruments to providing sage wisdom, Lloyd is a listener, a helper and a healer. His inspiring kindness has changed everyone here.”
Can a volunteer really change an organization? By all accounts, Lloyd has done just that. Austin Classical Guitar launched in 1990, and since then has become the largest nonprofit organization of its kind in America. Along with bringing artists – both established and emerging – to Austin for its concert series, ACG builds and supports classroom-based guitar education programs that currently reach more than 4,000 students in over 60 local schools. Part of their work involves maintaining the guitars used by students, and repairs can be both painstaking and expensive. But, as development director James Fidlon says, Lloyd is up for the challenge – he estimates Lloyd (a passionate amateur musician himself) has repaired at least 300 guitars.
“He’ll take great pleasure spending hours repairing the most broken-down, seemingly unsalvageable guitars for nothing more than the satisfaction of getting them back into the hands of students. He is an invaluable asset to this organization and everyone we serve, especially the kids in our school programs. Most of all, he is just a tremendous human being with a giant heart who brings joy to everyone who has the pleasure to interact with him.”
Repairs are just part of what Lloyd does for ACG. He also does all kinds of minor and major maintenance chores around the office – painting, hanging pictures, vacuuming, setting up tables for board meetings, taking out the trash, assembling things like desk lamps and watering plants. Additionally, he not only goes shopping for events and for office supplies, but for years has loaded his trunk with office recycling to take it to a dumpster down the road.
Former operations and development director April Long remembers being one of only two staffers and dealing with sometimes overwhelming stress at the time. While Lloyd was hugely helpful doing everything from preparing supplies to sending emails, what sticks out to April was the daily invitation to eat lunch with him. “Those lunches with Lloyd reminded me what ACG was all about – joy in community. In his deep kindness and infectious joy, in his commitment to creating community, and in his willingness to help in any big or small way, Lloyd has shaped ACG and has shown all of us what it means to live with an open heart.”