Volunteering at Games an amazing experience

  • Feb. 24, 2010 12:00 p.m.

It takes hundreds of volunteers to co-ordinate the Olympics.

Among those helping out at the Vancouver Winter Games are a handful of Nelsonites who applied more than a year ago for the opportunity.

For RJ Warren, it’s a dream come true to be volunteering at Vancouver Hockey Place with a chance to be near the excitement for all the men’s and women’s hockey games.

“The volunteers here don’t necessarily get to see the games, but just being here is amazing,” Warren said.

On his volunteer application, he indicated his top three choices for where he’d like to volunteer — Hockey Place was his first choice.

From day to day, Warren and other volunteers at Hockey Place have no idea what part of the venue they’ll be helping out in. There’s a daily lottery to determine whether they’ll be doing crowd control, assisting with security, working the VIP suites or one of several other responsibilities.

“It’s best when we get picked to be somewhere that we can kind of watch the game,” he said.

When he’s working inside the venue, Warren said he’s frequently rubbed shoulders with celebrities like Wayne Gretzky and athletes competing in the Games.

“The rule is, when we’re in out volunteer uniforms, we’re not allowed to initiate conversations with the Olympians or ask for pictures or autographs,” Warren explained.

For getting close to athletes, Nelson Coun. Kim Charlesworth has a prime volunteer position. She’s working in the athlete’s village.

“When I watched the Olympics on TV, I always thought it would be great to be a part of it,” she said. “It’s been such a positive experience helping out here. I’m having a great time.”

As a perk of her position, Charlesworth was able to attend a dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies with other volunteers, but to see the sports she’s just watching on TV.

Other Nelsonites volunteering in Vancouver include Dennis Hergott who is driving a bus to Whistler and Mary Bickerton who is helping out at Cypress.

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