While the athletes compete in the forefront with their coaches directing on the sidelines and the spectators cheering them on from the stands, there will be thousands of people volunteering in the background of the 2018 Wood Buffalo Alberta Winter Games (AWG) action working hard to keep everything running smoothly.
Jeff Penney understands the importance of volunteers and explains why they are integral to every aspect of being a community Games host.
“To put it simply, volunteers are the very heart of the Games,” said Penney, Director of Volunteers for the 2018 AWG. “It goes without saying that we are focused on providing the best possible atmosphere for the athletes to compete and for their friends and family to experience their performances. It is only possible to provide an event like this if you have dedicated and hardworking volunteers.”
Penney’s director role entails leading the development and implementation of the volunteer workforce strategy. This strategy ensures the success of recruitment, training, support and celebration of the volunteers who take part in the 2018 AWG.
Since the fall of 2017, Penney and the Host Society Board of Directors have been recruiting volunteers from the Wood Buffalo region. At the beginning of January, approximately 850 residents have registered to volunteer for the Games and that number is expected to approach 2,000 by opening day.
During the Games on February 16 to February 19, volunteers will be wearing standard uniforms with a clearly labelled accreditation to make them easily identifiable at each venue. The general volunteer uniforms will include blue, quarter-zip shirts with grey jackets and striped toques, while the ambassador uniforms will include grey, quarter-zip shirts with orange jackets, scarves and multi-coloured toques.
The three-day event is expected to oversee 2,800 athletes, coaches and technical officials in 22 different events in 20 different sports at 11 different venues across the region.
Due to the event size and the complexity of hosting, Penney said the Games requires many people to fulfill a wide variety of roles to ensure the safety and comfort of the athletes, officials and spectators.
The 2018 Wood Buffalo Alberta Games volunteer portfolios include:
- Athlete Villages & Food Services – Volunteers who are responsible for planning and setting up accommodations for all athletes, coaches and chaperones.
- Culture, Ceremonies & Protocol – Volunteers who develop a cultural plan of events and activities to complement the Games. The cultural plan recognizes the unique culture of our region and highlights our local artists and performers. They are also responsible for planning and executing the opening and closing ceremonies, the torch relay, and the entertainment for athletes.
- Facilities - Volunteers who manage the necessary spaces and equipment for the Games.
- Information Technology & Communication – Volunteers who manage participant accreditation and registration are managed through this portfolio.
- Safety & Security – Volunteers who provide a safe and secure environment where participants and spectators can enjoy the Games.
- Sport – Volunteers who are responsible for all activities within the “field of play”. They ensure all facility, equipment, and service needs are met for each of the sport competitions. While most sport volunteers are recruited through local sport Chairs, some opportunities for assisting at the sports venues exist.
- Tourism & Visitor Experience – Volunteers who are responsible for providing friendly hospitality and information to participants, guests, media, and the public to ensure their maximum participation and enjoyment in the Games.
- Transportation & Cartage – Volunteers who are responsible for the transportation of all participants and their equipment.
- Volunteer Workforce – Volunteers who assists all other portfolios in registering the volunteer workforce, orienting volunteers, and appreciating volunteers.
Every registered volunteer has agreed to the 2018 AWG mission to honour the spirit of the Games by enriching the lives of the athletes, participants and volunteers by promoting personal excellence and by creating a legacy within the Wood Buffalo region.
“It is the volunteers’ knowledge and enthusiasm that will ensure our guests and community have a great experience!”, he said.