BC SENIORS GAMES – Call for volunteers growing louder as Games near

You can’t run an athletic event without the athletes, and you can’t run one without volunteers either.

You can’t run an athletic event without the athletes, and you can’t run one without volunteers either.

Marion Hunter, co-director of volunteers for the BC Seniors Games, has put out a call for more volunteers to help out with the next big event the area is hosting.

Despite being  in the public eye at community events, contacting community groups and utilizing other tactics to recruit, Hunter believes they only have about 1,200 volunteers.

With more than 3,000 athletes expected to attend, she’s hoping to have about 1,600 volunteers help with the sporting events and other activities during the Games to ensure the event runs smoothly.

“All the BC Games are really dependent on volunteers to do most of the things — there are a few people we have to pay to have out because they have special qualifications in a sport area that’s a sanctioned event,” she explained. “But certain events can just be run with someone like me who doesn’t know anything about, say archery, but I can still go and help.”

People often assume that volunteering for an event like this will require a large time commitment or specific qualifications, which isn’t the case — a lot of positions just involve telling the next group it’s their turn or running results in.

“Lots of time you are asked to volunteer for something and you may think ‘I can’t really do that, I don’t have the qualifications or the hours of time’ but really all we’re asking for is a minimum of a four-hour commitment to help,” Hunter said.

“And we have jobs for everybody — including people with families.”

Volunteering helps highlight your community, provides the opportunity to meet all kinds of people and possibly launch a new career, she added.

Students can fill the volunteer hours they need to graduate by helping with the Games and while some people don’t think they have a big resume, employers also take into account your volunteer history.

“I’ve hired many, many people over the course of my career and I always look at what they’ve done as a volunteer,” continued Hunter, who currently works for the West Kootenay Teacher Education Program.

“Anything that you can put on there (for volunteering) shows commitment, you have a work ethic, you’re willing to do something for free where the benefits you get are great benefits but not financial benefits.”

“It’s the other things that you’ve done that say a lot about you as a person besides just whatever your paper qualifications are.”

A major hurdle in recruiting volunteers depends on what groups already exist in the community and who you know there, she said.

“Hockey doesn’t as have much trouble recruiting, or curling, as say whist if there’s no whist group in your town. Track and field used to be huge in the Trail and Rossland area but it isn’t anymore.”

In Trail specifically, the biggest need is for parking and traffic directors, especially for the Opening Ceremonies at Haley Park on August 17. They’re also looking for volunteers to help out with track and field and swimming events and a certified first aid volunteer for archery.

To register as a volunteer, visit www.2011bcseniorsgames.org.