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Corridor gets its own 2010 volunteer headquarters

Two-year countdown to Games celebrated in style

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Olympic organizers have chosen Squamish as their headquarters for volunteer recruitment in the Sea to Sky corridor.

“Along with the athletes, volunteers are vital to the success of the Games and the residents of Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and the surrounding communities will play an important role in making the 2010 Winter Games a success,” said Donna Wilson, executive vice president, Workforce and Sustainability for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).

“We encourage everyone to apply for a volunteer experience of a lifetime, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the Volunteer Centre over the coming months.”

The Volunteer Centre will serve as the primary regional hub for recruitment, deployment and training for volunteers residing in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. The facility will also host many workforce-planning activities in the lead up to the 2010 Winter Games. Over 5,000 volunteers are expected to go through the Sea-to-Sky Volunteer Centre between mid-2008 and 2010. Approximately 10,000 volunteers will be required in the Sea-to-Sky corridor at Games-time, filling hundreds of different roles. Applicants must be over 19 years old. VANOC launched their volunteer drive across the country and in Whistler on Tuesday, which marked exactly two-years until the start of the 2010 Games.

The countdown event saw energetic extreme drummers stop tourists and locals in their tracks, as a party got under way in Village Square.

“I think it’s fabulous,” said 39-year-old Geoff Smaals of the UK after a breathless dance with his toddler and the three Olympic mascots Miga, Sumi and Quatchi.

“We knew the Olympics were being held in Whistler and this is all so much fun we are talking about coming back.”

The resort is part of a month long Cultural Olympiad celebration to mark the countdown milestone.

Bands and cultural events will take place throughout February.

VANOC will need volunteers of all descriptions including health, sport, drivers, and even people to watch the Olympic flame to make sure it doesn’t go out.

The biggest hurdle for organizers in Whistler is making sure resort volunteers have a place to stay.

“We are hoping that we can recruit the majority of our volunteers from the local area which then come with a bed,” said Dick Vollet, VANOC’s vice president of Workforce.

Within hours of the volunteer process being started online thousands had signed up from all over the country and all over the world.

To find out more go to www.vancouver2010.com or www.volunteer.workopolis.com. Volunteers will be chosen based on their experience, not on a first come first chosen basis. And it’s likely the selection process will close in March.

“…The volunteers are one of the most important groups of people, second only to the athletes, to putting on a successful Games,” said Vollet.

“They really make the Games.”

Long time resident and business owner Rick Clare, who was at the countdown party Tuesday, is planning on getting involved.

“I’m not sure what I am going to be doing yet, but I am going to try and do some volunteering, that would be great,” he said.

“I hope people are going to get caught up in the excitement. I was lucky enough to be in Torino for the Olympics and it is an amazing event to watch the people come from around the world to experience it. It is going to be fun.”

Said visitor Julie Leduc from Nanaimo: “I think Whistler is ready for it. I haven’t been here for five years so it was interesting to see all the development and businesses here. I think the world is going to be impressed.”

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