Games volunteers fall in line

Thousands turn out for orientation day

Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

  Jan Halverson, right, shows Nita Douthit the photo that will be used on Douthit's credentials for the Arctic Winter Games during a volunteer training session at Kenai Central High School Saturday. Douthit said she was looking forward to helping with food service during the weeklong event. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Jan Halverson, right, shows Nita Douthit the photo that will be used on Douthit's credentials for the Arctic Winter Games during a volunteer training session at Kenai Central High School Saturday. Douthit said she was looking forward to helping with food service during the weeklong event.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The massive swath of volunteers who arrived by the thousands to Kenai Central High School on Saturday greeted long lines with patience as their official indoctrination into the 2006 Arctic Winter Games began.

The swell of volunteers matches the massive organizational needs of the international event. Volunteers were assigned to seven different categories designated by the color of the vest they’ll wear during the Games, including security, sports, sport officials, medical, transportation and special guest care.

Each category is further divided into committees. Dark blue vest-clad “general volunteers,” for example, include workers who will deal with food service, merchandising, ticketing, accommodations, venue outfitting, languages, information technology, administration and others. Mascot committee-assigned volunteers also will wear dark blue vests.

Wrestling committee volunteers — in the “sports” category and wearing green vests — could do anything from watching time clocks to wiping off mats with antiseptic between matches. The same goes for every sport.

“When you go to a basketball game, you have team A, team B and the officials, but you also have the score-keepers,” said Kevin Spence, the basketball committee chair. “It’s all the behind-the-scenes things.”

Volunteers had until the end of January to sign up, and many knew what their behind-the-scenes work would be before arriving at Saturday’s rally. Committee chairs made phone calls and sent e-mails or letters to assign their volunteers over the past few months. Some got assignments that day, and some took on extra duties.

The medical volunteer chairs were still sending out feelers Saturday, looking for potential recruits. The medical volunteer table had signed up an extra dozen volunteers by 1 p.m. to edge closer to its goal of 170.

Medical volunteers, who must be medical professionals such as doctors, nurses or emergency medical technicians, will work each event in two-person teams. According to committee co-chair Chris Mokracek, the number of teams present will depend on the sport.

“We will have more medical staff at hockey than badminton,” he said.

Will Manuel will work hockey events, but not as a medical volunteer. Manuel only signed up a day before the sign-up cutoff date, but the Kenai Central junior and hockey fan was able to secure a place on the committee servicing his favored sport. Manuel arrived at 9 a.m. Saturday and sat through the orientation program before jumping in line to wait to sign in and get his green vest and training assignment.

After munching on some lunch in the school’s cafeteria, Manuel admitted he had underestimated the scope of the Games.

“It’s not as easy as you might think,” Manuel said. “The federal government gets involved in it — I didn’t know that. I thought the borough was pretty much going to take care of it.”

Some volunteers had a better idea of the scope, though, and expected the rush of volunteers. Marty Hall, a Soldotna city maintenance employee, was one of them.

“I went through orientation, and then the lines were pretty big, so I went and had lunch and did a couple chores,” Hall said. “It’s been a busy day.”

Hall, for one, is excited for the arrival of the athletes.

“We were kind of conscripted, we came with the building, so we’ll be there to help as much as we can and we’re looking forward to it.”

AWG organizers thanked volunteers repeatedly for their patience and commitment during the initial orientation meetings. Glen Szymoniak, who is coordinating emergency efforts for the Games, said patience on the part of the volunteers will help all through the Games.

“Thank you very much for all your patience today. I know it’s kind of hectic here, but it’ll probably be like that, so your patience will help,” he said.



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