June 22nd, 2024

Lethbridge Sport Council launches Volunteer Sport Hub initiative

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on June 7, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Sport Council is looking for a few – or many – good volunteers.
Thanks to federal funding, the council has launched a first-of-its kind initiative called the Volunteer Sport Hub.
Funding from the Government of Canada Community Services Recovery Fund has enabled the council to launch a website called http://www.sportvolunteerhub.ca which will help recreation and sport organizations in the city fill much-needed volunteer programs.
Sport council executive director Susan Eymann said during an interview at the Live Well Showcase that sport volunteerism is much different than what would be considered regular community volunteerism.
The people involved don’t call themselves volunteers in sports, said Eymann, but rather parents because they are the people who are actively involved in many aspects of their children’s activities.
The website will allow the sport council to streamline the volunteer recruitment process, and will help prospective volunteers target certain events or activities which suit their interests or skill sets.
The sport council applied for the grant because the volunteering environment has changed, said Eymann, since even before the COVID pandemic hit.
“People value their time and are really looking to be part of community though, still,” Eymann said.
The hub is specifically for sports volunteering. Council members looked online to see if something was already developed and they could subscribe but found nothing, she said.
“There was nothing for sport volunteering specific and sport volunteers are quite different than community volunteers. They don’t call themselves volunteers, they just volunteers, it’s different,” said Eymann.
At the hub, people sign up and tell the council what interests and skills are as well as time commitments. And then the council emails filtered communications about opportunities that fit what people put on their applications.
The hub will let people who want to work events or have great interest in social media or fundraising, for example, to find opportunities that suit them.
“Often with the sport organizations, their base volunteers are parents who are busy working on organizing and providing the sport programming – everything to do with the actual sport, then they have to do the other things as well and that’s where it’s over-capacity and they get burned out.
“So we’d love to spread the opportunities to the rest of the community,” added Eymann.
“It’s about volunteering for sport council, it’s about volunteering for our sport organization members but it’s also about getting the first opportunity to volunteer for major sporting events,” Eymann added, noting the council is supporting several bids for events.
“Should we be successful and get those events, we’ll need volunteers.”
The sport council had a roster of 3,000 people when it was bidding for the Canada Winter Games and when that bid wasn’t successful, the roster was kept and people were asked if they wanted to stay on it. The majority said ‘yes’ and 10 years later there are still 1,400 people on that roster but the council just knows their email addresses.
“So it always felt spammy when we sent out a request for volunteers because we didn’t know what they wanted so now we’re trying to get people from that roster to transfer their information to the portal on the website so that we can filter communications,” added Eymann.
Eymann said the council was thrilled to get the federal funding “because sport typically doesn’t qualify for grants like this and we were successful.”
The council has been contacted by people from across the country about the hub because they have the same issues and challenges and are looking to develop something as well.
“There’s a need,” said Eymann.

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