Mark Tuesday Feb.12 on your calendar.
Not only will there be fantastic free entertainment as 2010 Olympic organizers mark the two-year countdown to the Games, it is also the first day would-be volunteers can sign up to help out at the Games.
And, of course, there will be cake at the Village Square celebration, which starts at 3 p.m.
This year’s Olympic countdown will focus on getting the communities involved by encouraging residents to volunteer.
“It is hugely important to us that the host community of Whistler and their neighbour-communities of Squamish and Pemberton take the time to show their heart and really play with us on this and become part of out volunteer force,” said Donna Wilson, executive vice president of Human Resources, Sustainability and International Client Services for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).
“Next to the athletes the workforce is the heart of these Games, and these Games do not happen without the workforce. It is the volunteers who put these Games on.”
On Feb. 12 people can go to either the Vancouver2010.com website or to Workopolis.com and find the links to sign up.
Workopolis is the exclusive Official Supplier of Online Recruitment for VANOC.
It will be posting for the 1,200 full-time, 3,500 temporary and 25,000 volunteer positions.
It will take about 35 to 40 minutes to complete the volunteer application form online. It will ask for contact information and within a few minutes of sending in the form applicants will get a reply saying it has been received.
Wilson hopes that by April everyone will be involved in phone call screening as the process gets under way. In the fall the first face-to-face meetings and security checks will begin and this will likely continue right through to Games time.
It is not a first come first served process and the applications will not be accepted for long.
“It won’t stay open forever but we will give notice to all Canadians,” said Wilson.
There are 53 different categories of volunteers needed. While they are all important the technical and event services categories are two key areas said Wilson.
“We do have some areas requiring special skills so anyone that has experience in the winter sports that will be hosted in the Sea to Sky such as skiing, Nordic, Biathlon, sliding - any exposure to those we are very, very interested in because we do need technical sport volunteers – that is a key area,” she said.
However, the most important asset in a volunteer is an interest in doing the job and a commitment to the Games. If those are in place, said Wilson, Vanoc will provide all the training that is needed.
In the event services area the key thing is customer service and an enjoyment in helping people. A strong command of English is necessary, but Olympic officials are also looking for people with strong language skills.
Youth involvement is still being worked on by VANOC. Anyone older than 19 will register through the website, but those younger than that will likely be organized to help outside the field of play venues through community organizations.
“What I would say to the community right now is that if your youth are involved with organizations like dance groups, boy scouts, girl guides, those organizations will be the organizations we will get in touch with when the opportunities arise,” said Wilson.
One of the most exciting opportunities will be the celebrations at the Athletes’ Villages in Whistler and Vancouver to welcome the athletes.
Past Games show that the volunteers for Olympics become a fantastic legacy for their communities into the future.
“In Calgary today there are about 200 volunteers at the speed skating oval and many of them started volunteering during the Olympic Games in 1988,” said Wilson.
“That is an amazing volunteer legacy and we hope and expect that Whistlerites and Vancouverites will be the same.
“…Our vision has always been that these Games will build a stronger country and our mission has always been to inspire the world. Sometimes the local residents in Vancouver, Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton have (wondered) how do they play into that. This is how you play into it.
“It is so important to us that our residents show the world what great hosts they are and this is how you do it.”
See the Pique’s entertainment section for more details on the event.