Steadfast Volunteer

Bonnie McNair

Confident and commanding in her stature and manner, Bonnie McNair is a take charge volunteer for the National Society of Arts and Letters but she immediately demurs when asked to talk about herself, shying away from the spotlight.

Others have had plenty to say about her stellar performance as this year’s co-chairwoman of NSAL’s High School Photography Program, presented annually by the Florida East Coast Chapter. “Bonnie is an exceptional person and volunteer extraordinaire. It is an honor and privilege to work with such an efficient and capable lady,” says Chapter President Emeritus Alyce Erickson, who founded the High School Photography Program and serves as co-chairwoman of this program that features a juried competition, master class and exhibition. In its third year, the 2018 event attracted more than 50 student photographers from four area high schools this spring.

Bonnie McNair and Alyce EricksonFor Bonnie, those students made months of tedious work organizing the community event well worth the effort. “What I enjoy most is the energy and dedication of students involved in the photography program and their willingness to learn.”

Bonnie’s love for the arts led to her involvement with NSAL when Alyce Erickson needed help with the organization’s Red Rose Gala three years ago. Bonnie says she and Alyce clicked immediately and have been working together ever since. “Alyce’s dedication to NSAL and her giving heart and giving nature drew me in.”

Beyond NSAL, Bonnie shares her artistic talents with Seniors Acting Up, a play reading group that performs several times a year in Broward County and Insight for the Blind, for which she records magazines for the blind. She keeps busy. “I just keep going. I’m like the energizer bunny.”

Thom Smith and Bonnie McNairNow retired, a glimpse of Bonnie’s professional life explains her no nonsense approach to volunteering. Back in the 60’s she was the first female manager for a supermarket chain in New York and she was paid half of what her male counterparts earned. “I was told, “‘You are a woman and don’t need the money.’” She went on to work as an executive secretary to the chairman of a national nuclear data center on Long Island and later as an executive assistant to the chairman of a Fort Lauderdale law firm.

Reflecting on her career and recent contributions Bonnie is thoughtful about the idea of success. “If you get up in the morning and you look forward to the day, if you can go to bed at night with a free and clear conscience. If you have true friends whom you can count on, I think that’s success. It doesn’t matter how much money you do or don’t have, are you happy?”

A native New Yorker, Bonnie relocated to Florida in 1978 for obvious reasons. “I came from New York for the warmth and the year round beautiful weather.”

Not surprisingly, she stays focused on the sunlight. “Life is too short to spend it in a bad mood. When I have problems I don’t dwell. You can always find good somewhere, just look for the roses instead of the thorns.” It is an attitude she brings to every corner of her life.

So why is she hesitant to take a bow after a job well done? Bonnie answers with her usual unassuming charm, “If you do something good and then go out and brag about it, it doesn’t count.”

F – French fries or tater tots? French Fries

R – Right brained or left brained? Both

E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email

S – Sunshine or moonlight? Sunshine

H – Homebody or party animal? Homebody