Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Volunteers at the Olympics

Each official Olympic website has a section you can click on if you want to apply to be a volunteer for the Olympics. Years ago, I knew of an Arkansas high school coach that went to Atlanta for the summer games to volunteer as a timekeeper. So you do not have to live in the same city as the Olympics, but you DO have to be there for all the advance training, credentials processes, and organizational meetings that volunteers are required to participate in. The volunteer in this photo was working in the media section of the Canada Place Hockey Arena. Since he was familiar with media/photography, he volunteered to take my photo at this same location, which gave a good view of the Vancouver Olympics symbol in the middle of the ice (The photo he took of me is on the Feb 28 post). At every venue, they gave a "shout out" of thanks to the hundreds of volunteers that helped things run smoothly. They were referred to as the "Blue Coats", and would always get a rousing round of applause from the audience whenever they were recognized for their service.

I was impressed that The Salvation Army was there walking among the folks waiting in line for transportation or screening, giving out free hot chocolate to anyone that wanted it. The beverage was contained in the large back pack shown, then poured into a cup through a tube/spigot, that they held in their hand. There were also Salvation Army volunteers to pick up the empty cups thrown away. Of course, their organization had to be pre-approved to offer this service, and it was a welcome treat to warm us up! Olympic rules forbid the distribution of religious material at any venue, so they were not handing out scripture tracts or pamphlets, just delicious and free hot cocoa! The disposable cups were imprinted with the familiar red and yellow shield saying "The Salvation Army", on a sketch of the Vancouver skyline/mountains, with the date 2010 written on it. The top of the design simply said "OTHERS". That is really what being a Christian means --- serving Christ by serving others. I propose a hot cocoa "toast" to The Salvation Army for this act of service!

At every venue's main transportation hub (The Canada Line Skytrain station is shown here), there was a platoon of "Blue Coats" (volunteers) to answer each and every visitor that had a question as to how to get to their location. Each platoon had one volunteer seated in the elevated "lifeguard" chair, who was equipped with a megaphone to amplify any directions the crowd needed to hear.

The organizers had a clever system of differentiating the volunteers as to the type of service they performed. It should be evident from the top photo, that official photographers were given a green sleeve (I wish I could have had one of those, for sure!). The medical personnel were given a red sleeve, and the event services volunteers were given a yellow sleeve. I thought this was a cost-effective way to get the message across about "job descriptions", without having to have a garment in a completely different color----just slip the proper-colored sleeve over your blue coat! So instead of saying "Hats Off" to the volunteers, I will extend my thanks for their service by saying "Sleeves Off" to the fine army of service-minded citizens that made the Vancouver 2010 Olympics so enjoyable!
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