ArtsQuest Volunteer ‘Dreams Big’
5 Minutes with Dale Traupman
ArtsQuest volunteer Dale Traupman has never been one to sit around, and he’s not about to start now. Retired since 2014—after a very memorable 43-year career in engineering—the Bethlehem native wants his second act to be just as fulfilling so he become part of the ArtsQuest family, volunteering at all of ArtsQuest’s major events, in the Musikfest Café and at the cinemas. He also recently participated in an ArtsQuest-sponsored event, known as Dream Big, for high school and middle school students looking at careers in engineering. Here’s his story:
Why did you decide to volunteer for ArtsQuest?
I have chosen to make volunteering a big part of my retired life. I had to do a lot of unplanned travel when I worked, so it was tough to make a commitment. I volunteer at several other organizations, but ArtsQuest is my top priority. I have always been a supporter of the arts, even though I have no musical talent at all.
ArtsQuest is a nonprofit, so it needs our support. I don’t think most people know that ArtsQuest is more than just Musikfest and Christkindlmarkt. It offers educational programs, and the staff works very hard to give everyone access to the arts, especially underprivileged kids and families. Another reason is that Jeff Parks and I went to Lehigh University together, so I know him well. His enthusiasm is catchy; you want to jump on the bandwagon with him. And finally, I don’t ever want to become a couch potato.
You completed the Ambassador program in 2016. Why was that important to you?
I volunteered at Musikfest for the first time in 2015. That’s when I decided to take the Ambassador program. I wanted to be a site supervisor the next year. I spent most of my career in managerial positions, so I wanted to use those skills as a volunteer. My father always said, ‘All people are people.’ He meant everyone deserves the same respect and everyone’s ideas should be valued. I also learned that when you’re a manager, you don’t have ‘people,’ you have ‘families.’ The ArtsQuest volunteers all love what they do, so supervising them is a wonderful experience.
You are also on the ArtsQuest Volunteer Committee. Can you tell us about that?
As a supervising engineer, I was involved in a lot of decision making. I missed that, so I decided to join the committee. We work to make the volunteer experience at ArtsQuest a great one. It’s been very rewarding to hear all of the positive comments from people who find being a part of the volunteer corps a great experience.
You were a member of the panel for the recent Dream Big event. How did that come about?
Actually, I backed into that, and I’m really glad I did. I was ushering at the cinema for the event and started talking to the two gentlemen who were running the program. When they realized I had been an engineer, they asked me to be on the panel. I loved interacting with the kids. I looked out at the 150 students and thought, ‘Some will be company presidents and they’ll all pursue different career paths, but I have a chance to get them to think about where they can go.’
I felt so privileged to be there. I worked in mining and minerals and the manufacturing of high-temperature bricks that steel companies used. During my career I did everything from lay on my back on the frozen ground to help get a railroad car back on the track to meeting the president of the largest steel company in the world in South Korea. I think it’s important for the kids to understand that engineering goes beyond the office, and you can succeed if you work hard.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I’ve always enjoyed photography. I’ve had no formal training, but people tell me that my photos show that I see things differently; I maybe see things other people don’t. At my wife Georgia’s suggestion a few years ago, I entered one of my photos of Historic Bethlehem in a contest at the Banana Factory and I won. I was thrilled, but didn’t think any more of it. Georgia suggested we do art fairs and maybe make some money. I reluctantly agreed, and it wasn’t until I sold my first photo that I thought I should actually be out there. I can’t say I’m making any money, but it’s fun. The other thing we love to do is travel. Since I’ve been all around the world, I want to see all 50 U.S. states. So far we’ve seen 42. We’re planning to go to Alaska, Utah and South Dakota this year. But, of course, that will have to fit in to my volunteer schedule.