2013 Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship: Summer/Fall Update

So, what have I been up to as the Volunteer Director of Program Sales and Merchandising for the 2013 Brier in Edmonton? Since the venue tour in June, I've been intermittently busy keeping in touch with my volunteers!

In June I received my first lists (one for Program Sales and one for Merchandising) of volunteers to contact. I called each person (or played phone tag and left messages) to introduce myself, explained a bit more about the position they had applied for, and answered any questions volunteers had. I also sent out a welcome email. Sound easy, right?

Well, this is the part where I admit I HATE TALKING ON THE PHONE. Seriously. Hate it. So calling 40 strangers wasn't high on my list of priorities. The volunteers were lovely though, most were excited I had contacted them, or just happy to be on the list. So not scary at all, I just have a weird phone phobia I guess. Also, you'd be surprised how long calling 40 people takes.

I sent my first lists back to the office, letting them know who I'd accepted to my team (most) and who were declined (few, usually because the person had moved out of town or wanted to be on another team). I received two more lists in August of about a dozen each. Repeat. I then received two more lists in September of about 10 volunteers each. Repeat. Spreadsheet hell I tell ya!

The first volunteer rally was announced late in September - each volunteer in the system was emailed/mailed a newsletter with all the details. I sent a reminder email to all my volunteers, asking for an rsvp, which some of them did, and I called those few people who didn't have email addresses just to make sure they knew about the rally. I tried to touch base with everyone, but 65 people is a lot to contact in a short amount of time so I hoped everyone had at least checked their email and would show up at the rally.

I also met with the event manager again to go through some finer details, like how many volunteers I needed exactly, and some procedural things that were new to me. After this meeting I felt more confident in what my role is. Let's get this show on the road!

October 2. Brier Volunteer Rally time! I was told to show up early, and to bring my volunteer lists. I got to the venue early, paid my $100 volunteer fee, received a logo'd Brier directors shirt and waiting for the onslaught!

CCA Curling volunteer rallys are usually fairly routine in my experience. Volunteers show up (there were four time slots for volunteers to show up at, based on last name), pay their fee, listen to an introductory speech from the host chair, get sized for uniforms, have their security accreditation photo taken, and meet their director. Usually there are some door prizes and free things - including coffee and cookies, and then everyone goes home excited for the main event to come.

I chatted to a few friendly faces, and a few new volunteers, and then listened to the first speech. Then I sat down at my 'Program Sales and Merchandising' table with my cookie and waited for my volunteers to make their way through the lines to me to say hi. And for the next four hours (minus a short stuff your face dinner break) I stayed at my table and met my awesome volunteers!

Some of my volunteers are friends, acquaintances or distant relatives, but most are strangers to me. I wont lie, I was nervous. It's always a bit nervewracking meeting strangers, plus many of my volunteers had worked in these positions before so it is a lot to live up to - but curling people are generally super awesome. I had conversation after conversation with just lovely people. I explained a bit about the duties for each position and answered any questions. Everyone I met was friendly and excited to just be a part of the event. It was an exhausting evening, but quite rewarding in the end.

Though I put a face to a name for most of my volunteers, I do still have some who didn't attend to contact to make sure they've made alternative arrangements. Missing a rally isn't a huge deal - we do have out of province volunteers - but it's necessary for everyone to pay and put in their uniform order prior to the event.

My volunteer compliment isn't *quite* full, but once it is, and once the draw schedule is confirmed, my next big job will be to work on scheduling. I'll send out an email asking for everyone's shift preference probably in early december and then will continue working on spreadsheet hell. Scheduling 90 people over a 9 day event. Well that will be fun...