FRIDAY, MARCH 22: ALL SORTS OF “BUSY PEOPLE” WILL BE AT WOMEN’S WORLDS
by Tracy Gagnon
A few weeks ago I was standing in the middle of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship orientation meeting surrounded by throngs of happy people, bubbly with excitement to volunteer for the event.
Then I found out this was only half of the contingent of volunteers for this year’s tournament.
My mind swirled with questions, but there was one that kept jumping to the front of the line. It was leaking out of my brain and before I knew it, it popped right out of my mouth to the closest person: WHY? Why did you volunteer?
I know I was there to be orientated, but I couldn’t help put on my journalist hat – especially because I had my Special Friend, DG (digital recorder), with me. I just had to know what would make people willingly part with their valuable spare time.
I mean, these are not people who would otherwise be eating bonbons and catching re-runs of Dr. Phil. These are busy people!
They are working people with children, elderly parents and lives of their own. They are students with loads of assignments, jobs, sporting and other activities. They are “retired” people, who are less retired now than they probably were when they were working.
I guess there’s truth to what Benjamin Franklin said 300 years ago: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
I interviewed more than 20 busy people, to see if there is some commonality amongst those who volunteer. By looking around and talking to people, I wasn’t sure there would be. There was a mix of every variant of the human species: young and not-so-young; males and females in equal proportion; the gregarious and the shy; bus drivers, doctors, government workers, non-profit and private sector employees; every race, creed and colour. The United Nations would be proud!
But I did encounter common themes. I answered that gnawing “Why?” question for myself – and hopefully for any of you who might also have pondered on the “why?” of volunteerism.
For example, Robert Earle (a chiropractor offering his services to the medical team) and Sian Williams (a student volunteering for VIP Services at the information desk), “just like helping out.”
Heather O’Neil (volunteering to keep us safe as part of the safety team) and Allison Milaknis (managing the lounges as part of the volunteer services team) both said that, in fact, finding a way of “giving back to the community” was important to them.
Then again, there are those like Jamie Shinkewski (a journalism student working on the publications team), Meagan White (working in the hospitality lounge for Team Canada) and Karen Harrington (a goodwill embassador for the event), who simply “love hockey.”
Still others, like Ed Duncan (working with the transportation team as a shuttle driver) and his wife Sylvia Duncan (volunteering in VIP services at the information desk) want to “do what they can to support women’s hockey.”
Sylvia also concurred with Rosemary Bugnet (willing to do anything as a volunteer), who just wanted “to be part of the tournament excitement.”
Some people, like Judy Moodie (helping out with IT support), love to meet the people who “come to Ottawa from all over the world” for the event.
Then there are the more practical people, such as Sandy McCallum (part of the accreditation team), who know that an event of this magnitude “doesn’t happen without volunteers.”
And Dave Brisson (the manager of the statistics and results team), who knows the importance of gathering statistics “for the benefit of the teams, the media and everybody else who’s interested in the game.”
Of course, the reality is that most people volunteer for more than one reason.
Valerie Hughes (general manager of the event and self-appointed head lettuce chopper) sums it up well: “Because it’s fun. You get to meet great people, you get exposed to things that you wouldn’t necessarily get exposed to just attending games, you make great contacts, you get to network and you get to experience something that’s very unique to the city, or even unique in life. I mean, how often do world championships come?”
And how often do the likes of Valerie Hughes of the world come along? She, too, is a reason people have volunteered for the women’s worlds. Several people, such as Bugnet and Stephanie Vance (volunteering in statistics and results) mentioned Val as a specific reason they’re volunteering.
Rosemary says, “I think the real reason is that I really like working with Val Hughes. She’s amazing. She’s so cool in times of craziness and she’s so motivational. I worked with Val at Carleton University and I have to admit, when Val asked if I’d volunteer, it was a no-brainer to say ,‘Sure!’ It was Val, after all! ”
The truth is, in order to pull an army of dedicated volunteers together, you need great leadership. It’s like a secret weapon. And Val has surrounded herself with the best of the best.
She and her management team will all do what it takes (including chopping lettuce at 7 a.m.) to make the women’s worlds a fantastic experience for spectators, players and, yes, volunteers, too.
I know that Val and her management team would all be mortified by the last paragraphs. You won’t find one of them tooting their own horns. But I can, and I will, because, darn it, they deserve it!
Take note of those in leadership roles (see my last blog) and say a big THANK YOU when you see them!
In the meantime, that platoon of excited volunteers will soon be marching into SBP Arena and Nepean Sportsplex, led by General Val, to show the world a great time.
“Together,” Val said when she spoke at the orientation, “we won’t miss the moment!”
Your Hockey Rookie,
About Rookie Reflections: Tracy Gagnon is an Ottawa, Ont., resident and a media volunteer for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. A self-admitted hockey newbie, Tracy and her fellow volunteers, who are generously giving their energy and time to make this event a success, will take us behind the scenes at SBP Arena in Ottawa, Ont., the Nepean Sportsplex and everywhere in between for the inside scoop on what goes into hosting a major world championship in the nation’s capital – all from the eyes of a total rookie.