Barbara Damerel takes the reins of Pasadena Showcase Home
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Volunteering is nothing new to Barbara Damerel.
She served 39 years in the Huntington Hospital gift shop, and on the board for the Hill Haribson House in San Marino. She’s also focused on San Marino Schools, the Girl Scouts and the San Marino Chapter of the National Charity League.
Damerel said she feels she found her calling as president of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) for the 2020-21 term.
“It’s exciting to be able to be the president during these challenging times because I know we’re not going to walk the same path we’ve walked for 56 years,” Damerel said.
“I hope to be able to see the organization through these trying times. We’ll have to implement new fundraising ideas to complement what we do.”
Damerel owned an insurance business for 11 years. Previously she was on the sales and leasing side of the automobile industry for 28 years. She joined Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts in 2003 because she liked its mission of promoting music and music education.
“I can’t sing, but my husband’s grandmother sang on the test record for Thomas Edison,” Damerel said of the late Gertrude Darsie. “She used to have a Steinway grand piano in her living room and gave free vocal lessons to promoting opera singers.
“It’s been an appreciation of something I can’t do, but I realize how important it is for people who can.”
Damerel and her husband, Jeffrey, live in Darsie’s San Marino home.
Damerel has held numerous board and committee positions over the years, including benefit chairwoman for the 2019 Pasadena Showcase House of Design in Descanso Gardens.
“Over the years I have observed how resilient PSHA is as an organization while undertaking a fundraiser of such an enormous size and scope as the Pasadena Showcase House of Design,” Damerel said.
“I have been awed by the resourcefulness and dedication of the all-volunteer membership as we find solutions to nearly insurmountable problems. Now, with all the issues presented by the pandemic, we have once again faced adversity and pivoted to present the 2020 Showcase
House as an innovative and comprehensive virtual tour. It took quick thinking, creativity, a committed team and a devoted membership to bring it to fruition. I am grateful to and proud of the many members who give so generously of their time and talents to ensure PSHA is able to continue to support music programs in the community.”
COVID-19 forced PSHA to pause its music programs for safety reasons, but the organization’s members are proud of conducting the Gifts & Grants program. It offers grants to arts organizations.
“We will continue to find new ways to meet our goals in this unprecedented set of circumstances,” Damerel said.
“We know the loyalty and support of our visitors, designers, resources and, of course, our members, will see us through.”
Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts was created to bring the joy of music to children and adults through exposure, education and experience.
Since 1948, it has donated more than $23 million and countless volunteer hours dedicated to reaching 6,000 elementary school students and musicians aged 16 to 24 annually.