From Airstream to Austria

What do two new friends of Interlochen and a longtime volunteer have in common?

Their very different life paths brought them to Interlochen—and to the President's Club.

The President’s Club celebrates supporters who have contributed $5,000 or more to Interlochen Center for the Arts in a calendar year. In 2018, Jeanne and Ed Stroetz and Elfie Steigerwald joined over 200 President‘s Club members in supporting scholarships, artist residencies, and special programs through annual giving. In total, President’s Club members represent 28 states and territories as well as the Bahamas, Canada, China, and Switzerland. Last year, there were 39 new members, including the Stroetzes.

The Stroetzes are world travelers and longtime Airstream devotees. They found Interlochen two years ago while visiting friends in Michigan.

Jeanne, a flute player of more than 35 years, was excited to see so many young musicians together. Ed was impressed with the students’ politeness and sophistication. They returned last year, when Jeanne attended Adult Band Camp. Their second visit to campus coincided with the Create Amazing Opportunities Challenge.

Inspired to support scholarships for young artists through the Challenge, they responded with their first President’s Club gift. Jeanne saw how Interlochen allows children to enhance their skills and share their gift of music. Ed saw a place where you could be walking down the sidewalk and see 50 people holding up 50 different flags from around the world. “We are givers, and we honestly believe that the more you give, the more rewarding your life is,” Ed said.

They would certainly admire Elfie Steigerwald’s life of giving. She has spent more than 25 years supporting Interlochen as a donor and volunteer.

Not long after World War II, Elfie left Salzburg, Austria, coming to America at the age of 16. She had apprenticed in a tailor’s shop and attended nursing school, but life’s larger responsibilities kept her from pursuing either career. At least until Interlochen. “When I first came, I felt this energy here, in the sights, in the sounds,” said Elfie. “I thought, ‘This is the place. This is where I want to be.’”

Her sewing skills led her to the Costume Shop, where she worked for years with recently retired Lead Costume Designer and Costume Shop Coordinator Candy Hughes. Elfie’s skill and devotion would eventually result in her becoming a member of the shop’s “Sewing Saints.”

Elfie started supporting Interlochen 23 years ago. She has been a member of the President’s Club since 2012, dividing her gifts between the Interlochen Annual Fund and Interlochen Public Radio.

When asked why she gives to Interlochen, she said, “The biggie is the radio station because I listen to it constantly. It’s sort of my companion.”

To join the Stroetzes and Elfie in supporting Interlochen as a President’s Club member, please visit interlochen.org/give.

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