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Volunteer Spotlight: Noonie Thibodeau
Volunteers are an integral part of California Ballet. Our staff is honored to work with individuals who give freely of their time and resources and go above and beyond to help CBC in any way they can. We would like to recognize one of our amazing volunteers, Noonie Thibodeau, for all of her hard work. Her positive attitude and talents are an inspiration to everyone. From all of us here at CBC, thank you Noonie!
CBC: Tell us a little about your background.
Noonie: I was born in Laos; my family came to the United States after the Vietnam War. My father served in the US Army and had to escape the Communist takeover of Laos when the war ended. We lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for 6 months until finally being allowed to enter the US. I came to America at the age of 7 with my mom, dad, and 4 sisters, age 1 to 13 years old. We arrived in San Diego but decided to start our new life in Escondido, California. Three years after we arrived in Escondido my baby brother was born.
My parents gave me a unique name influenced by the French who had colonized Laos a long time ago, Phoumany Sengchanthalangsy (pronounced Poomany), it means ‘mountain of diamonds’ and my last name means ‘the sun shining upon my head’. When I attended school at Lincoln Elementary School in Escondido, my teachers called me Noonie because it was my family’s nickname for me.
I attended San Diego State University and majored in Mechanical Engineering. It was there that I met my husband, Craig Thibodeau, also a mechanical engineer. I worked in Rancho Bernardo as a test engineer for Unisys Corporation for many years but decided to retire when our daughter Michele was born.
CBC: What does service mean to you?
Noonie: It means helping people or associations when they cannot complete a task by themselves. I grew up in a close knit community where people advocated for students, teachers, and clubs. I find I have always been interested in helping out and using my free time to aid great causes.
CBC: Is there a time when you realized that your work made a difference?
Noonie: Yes, I raised $45k for the Unisys United Way/Chad program in San Diego while working at Unisys. I offered to upper management that I would give 10% of my income if they would do the same to encourage others to donate, they agreed and this helped raise awareness at my workplace.
CBC: How did you originally get started volunteering for CBS and CBC? How long have the kids been going here?
Noonie: I attended my first parent meeting 8 years ago when my daughter Michele started tiny tots, I was inspired to become more involved by Ms. Maxine and Sigrid. Now she is in ballet 4 and auditions for the Nutcracker and all school concerts every year with her brother Darren. He’s been dancing since he was 6 years old and will be 11 for the Nutcracker this year.
CBC: What is your favorite volunteer job to do?
Noonie: I don’t really have a favorite because I like to help out in any open slot; but I have worked in the green room many times. I also enjoy helping with sales of Nutcrackers and keepsakes and greeting people at the door at the yearly Nutcracker show. I enjoy helping at the company shows because I get to see what happens behind the curtains. We have so many talented dancers in San Diego and it’s a pleasure to be able to help them any way I can.
CBC: Is there any advice you would give to new parents who might be thinking about volunteering?
Noonie: You can start anytime; these kids are so talented and are happy to get help from peers and parents. It’s worth being involved so you can see the kids perform and they grow up so quickly you don’t want to miss any of it.
CBC: Have you been involved in other volunteer activities outside of ballet?
Noonie: Yes. I currently volunteer at both my children’s schools. As a parent volunteer, I get to teach art lessons, participate in many fundraising activities and accompany students on field trips.