Each year for the past 47 years, the city of Albuquerque has played host to one of the world’s leading hot air balloon festivals. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta attracts worldwide attention for the mesmerizing scenery but much of the success of the event comes from the legions of volunteers who work tirelessly for the cause, including Civitans from around the region who have been serving the event since 1986.

Each year, Junior Civitan Chair for the Great Southwest District, Kara Scott, takes a week of vacation time to coordinate parking for the event. She makes sure volunteers have everything they need to work the event and she makes sure the organizations benefitting get credited for their hours and payments.

“Kara gets up at 2 a.m. from the RV she lives in for the entire festival, to make coffee for all of the workers, get the sign in sheets and vests ready,” said Kendyl Massey, Civitan International President. Massey volunteered with Scott for the festival last year and called Civitan headquarters to brag on how well run the event was and what a great job Civitans did raising money for their clubs.

“The money is split not with one club but several Civitan clubs in the Great Southwest,” said Scott. “There are about 50 Civitans who work the event. Each club uses the money support many different projects. A few are packs of food for Monzono High School, Dinners at Casa Esperanza Albuquerque—a home where people stay while having cancer treatment— or grandparents raising grandkids, and many more,” she said.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a 501c3 nonprofit which generates an estimated $170 million in economic impact to the community annually. Some estimates show volunteers have earned more than $150,000 for various causes by parking cars, selling programs and other tasks.

For Civitan’s part, Kara Scott is there with a servant’s heart ready to serve others and help clubs in the district raise money for projects and raise awareness for Civitan.

“One of the perks of working is from time to time you come across a couple or a family that might need assistance and you are there for them—Civitan was there for them,” said Scott.

Scott compares the event to attending a Civitan International Convention because of the many familiar faces of volunteers she sees each year. This year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is planned for October 6 through October 14.