Pan Am Volunteer Recruitment Center Open for Business

      By William Doyle-Marshall

The Volunteer Recruitment Center for the forthcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games was officially launched Monday before a gathering of ethnic media practitioners at the games headquarters on the waterfront downtown Toronto. It was exactly one year and a month away from the start of the games that will bring more than 20 thousands athletes and coaches to the Greater Toronto area. A major Soca star Machel Montano, from Trinidad and Tobago will be in town for the one year countdown to the Games on the weekend of July 11-12.

Thomas Saras, president of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC); Saad Rafi, Chief Executive Officer of the games; David Peterson, Games Chairman; Daryl McKenzie, vice president responsible for volunteers and Rob Assimakopoulos, general director of marketing and communications for Chevrolet Canada, and Pachi, the games mascot, participated in the ceremony. Chevrolet is presenting the volunteer recruitment drive.

Media representatives were reminded that the games truly belongs to all of us and getting everyone to feel ownership and pride in bringing this multi-even games to the city is paramount in the undertaking. In introducing Peterson Saras informed game officials that the ethnic press is alive and well today just as it was in the past.
Peterson reflected on past experiences working with Saras and other members of the council. He noted, the world has changed enormously, and it is almost time to get rid of the name ‘ethnic press’. “You are main line press. You speak for Canadians. This is the face of the real Canada. I think you should be the main line press and the Toronto Sun should be the ethnic press,” Peterson remarked. The Games Chairman emphasized these media practitioners have such an important role and they play such a constructive role in building this great city and this great province. “I take off my hat because we built something together and it could not have been built without the ethnic press. We built the most admirable city and country in the world,” Peterson observed.
Confident about the role the ethnic press can play in attracting Ontarians to the Games, Peterson admitted seeing changes in his life that are absolutely astounding. He recalled seeing the influence members of the ethnic press have played in making these changes happen. “I take off my hat because we built something together and it could not have been built without the ethnic press. We built the most admirable city and country in the world and I say that without fear of contradiction. We built it together by understanding each other and respecting our communities and building our common values as well.”
The former Ontario Premier said Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games is the biggest deal that will ever hit this city. He was confident that even people who are not athletes will find something they’d like in the games -- 50 sports, 30 locations – Welland to Minden to Oshawa – every kind of sport. He described the games as “the cultural celebration of a soul and the birth of an athlete.” The Chairman warned against getting the impression that this is just about the Caribbean, South and Central America. It is more than that as the games would include “all of our cultures”, every single community in this province, he assured. With this in mind Games officials are pushing to tap into the communities across the province to be able to meet the target of 25,000 volunteers to be an integral part of the happening between July 10 and August 15 next year. They are required to support the massive contingents arriving here from 41 countries and territories to compete. There will be members of 41 National Olympic Committees and 28 National Paralympic Committees.
  Volunteers will be trained for their assignments and according to the organizers, exciting positions are available in 16 Ontario municipalities. Preparing the field of play for athletes, working as medical staff and taking active roles in prot6ocol, accreditation, press operations, Opening and Closing Ceremonies are among the chores open to volunteers. While 20,000 persons have already applied for these positions, recruitment continues
Saad Rafi, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer who is charged with making the best multi-sport games in the history of the world. He told the media gathering that they do represent what is the beauty of this region – the diversity and inclusivity --,  and the media is needed to get the word out about volunteering for the Games. Peterson described the games as extraordinary and complex with a million moving parts that anything could go wrong. “With so many things going on there is the potential for mistakes,” he concluded. After six months on the job Rafi has built a fabulous team; he has changed the organization around, he has changed the spirit. He gets things done, he makes decision and he does it with generosity and above all else, he is a real joy to work with, Peterson noted.
 According to promotional material, the mission of the Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games is to “ignite the spirit through a celebration of sport and culture”. The games will be enhanced by embracing the diversity, humanity and passion that exist in both these arenas. PANAMANIA is an arts and culture programme designed to create an accessible, diverse, large-scale festival of contemporary arts and culture. Presented by CIBC, it showcases excellence, creativity and a commitment to inspiring and innovative cultural events. The PANAMANIA brand will be associated with all cultural events tied to the Games – from those at-large, free public celebration sites like Nathan Phillips Square, to exciting Pan American presentations and unique commission in legitimate performing arts venues that will have their world premieres during the Games.
The Games Organizing Committee is committed to working with communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region to promote Toronto’s cultural diversity, including its Aboriginal cultures and Canada’s official languages. A variety of methods will be used and they include partnering with existing events and activities, commissioning new and original work, creating new artistic hybrids and promoting third-party activities.
   Daryl McKenzie, vice president with responsibility for volunteer services said his team is looking for storytellers who will go out and serve as ambassadors for the Games.

June 24, 2014