40 years of Volunteer Legacies

40 years of Volunteer Legacies

by: Irene Schell, BC Games Society

Author: BC Games Society/Tuesday, May 15, 2018/Categories: Front Page, 2018 News

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The BC Games are a sporting event, right?  They are about developing athletes and sport, right?  Yes, that is definitely true … but they are so much more.  The Games showcase and develop communities, and they are an amazing celebration of volunteerism.

The BC Games wouldn’t exist without volunteers – not only do they bring their energy and talents to plan and stage the Games but their commitment creates the legacies of the Games.  And we wish for each person to see themselves as art of the legacy of the Games - that they walk away with something that contributes to their life in some meaningful way.

For each Games, volunteers responsible for fourteen functional areas are recruited to serve as Directors of the Board.  Then each of these Directors pulls together a team of 4-6 key volunteers (Chairs) focused on 80+ operational areas.  Ofcouse there are 1000’s of other volunteers who join committees or help out on the Games weekend but it is these 90+ volunteers that are the backbone of the Games.  The Directors are recruited and begin their Games journey approximately 18-20 months prior to the Games and Chairs are in place approximately 10 months prior to the Games.  And without them the Games simply would not happen.

Two past key volunteers on the opposite ends of their career pathways are Jack Froese, Director of Security and Harrison Bland, Host Chair.

Jack, a longtime resident of the Township of Langley, was recruited for the 2010 BC Summer Games because of his evidenced commitment to the community.  Jack’s service as a member of the Vancouver Police Department meant that he was the obvious choice to head up the Security Directorate.  Over and above, that, Jack's calm, cool, collected, and professional approach to managing a large-scale event and overseeing hundreds of security volunteers, made a  him a natural.  

When the Games came around, Jack was already retired from the VPD and was part of the management of the family business, JD Farms and he brought those connections to the table as well – helping make sponsorship connections between local food industry businesses and the Games.  

Jack said, “I chose to accept the role because I wanted to give back to the community I had called home for so many years.  I had never done anything like the Games before,” he said, “and I saw it as an opportunity to contribute.”  He brought together friends he had worked and volunteered with and through the process he formed connections with others, many whom he remains connected with, eight years later.  

Jack’s contribution to the Games in the Township of Langley is extraordinary – he was a team player, a dynamic leader who got done what needed to be done, and was committed to making the Games something the community could be proud of.  

And after the Games when another career opportunity presented itself, Jack said that his work on the Games made the decision that much easier.  When he accepted the role as the Director of Security pursuing a career in politics was not even a thought but when the opportunity to run as a mayoral candidate in the municipal election in 2011 presented itself he said his work on the Games was the push to say yes because the Games had broadened his understanding of community.  Jack is currently serving his sixth year as the Mayor of the Township of Langley and we are proud to call him a BC Games alumnus.

On the other end of the career pathway, is Harrison Bland, in his early twenties, who was working as a Marketing Coordinator at Highstreet Shopping Centre, for Shape Property Management which manages the centre in Abbotsford.  He was recruited to the Host Chair position for the 2016 BC Summer Games by his supervisor but said yes because he thought it would be an interesting challenge.  Harrison, in concert with his Co-Chair Alyssa Short, managed, trained, outfitted, and scheduled over ninety Hosts (Games ambassadors), stationed at 20+ venues across several municipalities over the four days of the Games – a rather daunting task.

Harrison applied his love of all things technology to develop a comprehensive scheduling system for his team of Hosts, he used his attention to detail to provide clear and concise materials to help the Hosts be prepared for their roles (and pretty much anything that could happen at the venues), and he showcased his leadership skills by being at every venue to support and encourage his volunteers.  

In retrospect, Harrison believes that the experiences he gained in the intense 10-month period leading up to and culminating with the Games, could only have been gained from many, many years on a job – and maybe not even then.  The time sensitive and fixed-end-date nature of the Games means you cannot get behind (the Games do not wait) and so the importance of time management and personal management become apparent very quickly.  Harrison also said, “Managing ninety-plus people was an amazing learning opportunity, something that does not often present itself, especially to someone so young.”  Harrison has recently left his position at Highstreet to seek employment in England and is confident that having the experience gained volunteering for the Games will help get his foot in the door for many opportunities.  We look forward to hearing about the path that his time abroad takes.

When asked if they would volunteer for the Games again, both Jack and Harrison each gave an enthusiastic and resounding “yes”, without hesitation.  

We know that individuals choose to volunteer for the Games for many reasons and we know that they each walk away with different experiences but when the experience is so positive that they would do it again, it is for us at the BC Games Society, the greatest feeling in the world.  And when they talk about the personal growth, opportunity, or life-changing opportunity the Games were for them, we can’t help but beam with joy and pride knowing that the BC Games are amazing opportunities all around.  

About the Author
The BC Games Society celebrates its 40th year in 2018 and for nineteen of those years Irene Schell has worked as an Event Manager for the Society.  “I am fortunate to work with dedicated and committed colleagues, fortunate to be connected to an organization that has such tangible impacts on communities, sport, and individuals, and extremely fortunate to work alongside amazing volunteers like Jack and Harrison and hundreds and hundreds of others who I have watched in awe as they give of themselves to make and shape the BC Games.”


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