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Meet Donna Driver – Volunteer for 25 Years at the Pacific International Quilt Festival

The Pacific International Quilt Festival held at the Santa Clara Convention Center October 13-16, 2016, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, Mancuso Show Management interviewed local quilter Donna Driver, who has been an invaluable volunteer for PIQF since its first year.

donna-driver-imageEvery year Donna coordinates the many volunteers needed to dress mannequins for the wearable art competition as well as help with the annual fashion show. She may work behind the scenes, but her wonderful support takes center stage at the event. MSM greatly appreciates Donna’s efforts in making every PIQF spectacular. We’ve asked her to think back to those early days of PIQF and tell us how she thinks the event has changed over the years.

How did you and David meet? How did you start volunteering for the fashion show?

When PIQF came to Burlingame (where PIQF was held before moving to Santa Clara) I read about the show in an advertisement. That year I was in charge of our opportunity quilt and getting the tickets sold was my job; I was looking for every opportunity.

I called Mancuso Show Management, spoke with David and inquired if I could have space in the lobby to show our guild’s quilt and sell tickets.

As we talked he said he needed guild members to white glove at the show and could I provide some members? That was easy as our guild is very enthusiastic and always willing to help. This was a big show and something we were not use to so everyone wanted to help.

That was the beginning of our friendship.

What was it like as a volunteer in the beginning and what is it like now?

Since this show was new on the west coast everyone was curious about it. Our guild (Amador Valley Quilt Guild, Pleasanton, CA) was most anxious to help however needed. So assistance was easy. Quilters are still “ready to help”. Several sign up to be scribes, dress the mannequins, model and “press and dress” the models.

David has called on me to find “tall” men to help hang the quilts. My godson Phillip Annas has worked with PIQF for many years and takes vacation time to continue hanging quilts. One year I rounded up the kid across the street. Sometimes I still get the call – “I need someone tall!”

Sometimes I get a call from Mary Claire that they need a scribe or something else “immediately” and that is accomplished by calling on the guilds in the East Bay – Diablo Valley Quilters, Danville and Piecemakers in Fremont plus our Amador Valley Quilt Guild, Pleasanton.

Today things run very smoothly at PIQF, so it has always been easy to get volunteers as we all love the event!

Any memorable moments from working with Mancuso Show Management?

One year long long ago MSM did a quilt show in Palm Springs. My two good friends and I went down to see the show. We came early to help with the fashions. To everyone’s horror none of the paperwork had arrived. This was before the advent of the internet. The paperwork had accidently been sent Fed Ex ground!  Nothing to go by. So with the help of dining room chairs we joined in and climbed up and down and hung the quilts. After all that was done, the paper work arrived.

There was the morning on 9/11 and David had called me at work. I was always at work by 7 am West coast time so it was a good time for us to connect. The towers had fallen earlier. Stuff was happening all around the U.S. All of a sudden during our conversation David started getting calls from teachers who were going to teach. All planes had been grounded and they were calling to say they had no way to get the upcoming show that weekend! Obviously, we hung up. People are resourceful and also very understanding. The show went on and I don’t know how!

My mom modeled one year for the fashion show – the year she was 90 years old. (I will show you her photo when we meet – she still looks amazing). 102 years now.

How has PIQF changed in your eyes in 25 years?

Well, I don’t get the phone calls like I used to the first few years when something came up and they needed it solved here on the west coast.

As we go on with the show, things improve with age just as haa PIQF. Glitches still happen but with their experience they are easily solved. They know where the resources are to fix the issue!

You’ve stepped up to be such a great organizer for PIQF’s fashion show since year one, what does volunteering for PIQF mean to you?

It’s been a joy to work with David (and Peter now retired) over the years. They are like “family” after all this time. Many friendships don’t last 25 years. We often lose contact.

What’s it like to work with the Quilt Diva, Karen Boutte for the fashion show?

Karen has it down “pat.” It improves each time as she gets the designers in line. It is very fast paced backstage but everyone has a wonderful time and volunteers year after year.

I have become friends with Karen over the years and love working with her and having her for a friend. She does a fantastic job.

What do you do when you are not volunteering for PIQF?

I retired about 13 years ago from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after 16 years. I was a stay at home mom while our children were growing up, so entered the workforce later in life.

I work with our community quilts outreach and I am also active in our church.

My husband just stripped my sewing room, floors, walls, etc. New floors, shelves, counters plus a new sewing machine. Plus way too much fabric! So since I have a new sewing room I am sewing again!