Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

When many people think about large sporting competitions like the 2018 BC Summer Games, their thoughts invariably go to the athletes.

But aside from the coaches, parents and organizers, it’s the more than 2,300 volunteers that really bring the Games together. Led by Jennifer Woike and Mona Kaiser, sixteen members of the Board of Directors have coordinated approximately 125 volunteer chairs, each of whom has a committee of volunteers responsible for different aspects of the Games planning and operation.

Some work in food service, others are stationed at Cowichan Secondary where many of the athletes are being lodged. More volunteers are assigned to each venue, looking after security, guests and medal presentations.

For those preparing the meals, it can become a little overwhelming as steam fills the kitchen air and green shirts move between boiling pots of pasta, cooling stations and food service bins. The team of community members are preparing the food on a very large scale — enough to feed 2,373 athletes, 453 coaches and 246 officials.

“I’m in shock,” said Melinda. “We just keep cooking and cooking.”

As the athletes are burning so many calories as they train and compete, the menu is quite straight forward.

“Penne, spaghetti, fresh vegetables and more,” explained Jean. “We want every athlete to be well fed. They deserve a positive experience.”

During the BC Summer Games, thousands of pounds of food will be served to hard working athletes and their coaches.

Other volunteers include 16-year-old Noah Janssen, who received his Level 1 First Aid training through the Games and chose to spent his 17th birthday on the soccer pitch, volunteering as a First Aid attendant.

Norma and her daughter Megan, are part of the traffic direction volunteer team. They’ve previously volunteered for the Nanaimo Seniors Games, last weekend’s Provincial Elder’s Gathering in Duncan, and also the Island Folk Festival happening this weekend, while working between shifts.

And when a food truck scheduled for the rowing events was forced to cancel, Ashley and her son Russel stepped in to provide a delectable assortment of goodies at the concession through her Maple Bay catering business. At the last minute, she went the extra mile to offer lemonade, muffins, cheesecake, and fruit cups.

Ashley even volunteered for all three days o competition, helping with concessions, making sure the set-up went okay and that each station had bins for garbage and electricity as needed.

– With files from Hayley Picard, Natasha Horsman and Sherry Durnford

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