If there was ever a question of how Vancouver will respond when volunteers are urgently needed for the 2010 Olympics, just take a look at the support the organizing committee for the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship has received.
Not only have local residents of Vancouver answered the call, but people from as far away as Ontario have responded, traveling across the country at their own expense to be part of this great event.
“We had an overwhelming response,” said Loring Phinney, chair of the communications team. “The number of people that just called in immediately, saying ‘I want to volunteer,’ realizing it was Christmas, it’s amazing to get this many people working over the Christmas holidays.”
Nearly 1,400 volunteers have taken part.
“It’s quite impressive how much we rely on the volunteers and the roles that they play,” Phinney said. “That covers everything from hosting the teams, which is obviously very important, to all the transportation requirements, all the communications, and working in the media centre.”
Each volunteer was asked to work a minimum of seven 7-hour shifts over the course of the tournament, and the commitment level from the volunteers has impressed Phinney.
“That’s a lot of commitment over your holidays to give to it, and I’ve not heard one complaint. They love being here and they love hockey. Everybody I’ve come across has been a real professional, and it bodes very well for the future with the Olympics and other types of events.”
Vancouver resident Jennifer Goepel is one of nearly 60 volunteers working in the media center at GM Place in Vancouver, and she said she would take the opportunity again in a second.
“I decided to volunteer because I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember,” said Goepel. “I just moved back from Ottawa and I was really involved in hockey. It’s all about having fun.”
The 30-year-old Goepel is no stranger to volunteering for events such as the World Juniors. She filled a similar role with the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the CBC hockey reality show Making the Cut, and various NBA events in Toronto.
“I enjoy meeting the other people and being exposed to such an event. You don’t get the chance to do this [all the time]. Some people can’t afford to [take time off] to be here.”
In her day job, Goepel works for a sport and event marketing company, and she heard about the WJC volunteering opportunity through an NHL contact of hers. Goepel is now looking forward to the possibility of working at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
As an incentive to volunteer at this tournament, participants received a few perks, including a nice selection of clothing to wear while carrying out their duties.
Additionally, the organizing committee made a point of ensuring volunteers could try out different jobs in various areas, making it more fun and creating more chances for people to flesh out their resumes. Naturally, volunteers were also able to watch some of the exciting live game action.
Canada will next host the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2009, and as with the 2010 Olympics, it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many Canadians to step up and volunteer at a world-class event. So start circling the dates on those calendars!