With more than 10,000 volunteers already signed up, Democratic National Convention organizers say they’ll end registration Saturday so they won’t run out of jobs for people.
Setting a deadline means organizers can start preparing people who are assuming a range of roles – including airport greeters, escorts for delegates with disabilities, call-center personnel and helping at events such as delegate parties.
Interest ran so high that the local host committee was caught a bit off guard. Volunteers crashed servers for a few hours last month when online shift signups opened, said Courtney Counts, who leads volunteer efforts for the local host committee.
They’re motivated by a number of factors, from an interest in politics and President Barack Obama to wanting to help show off Charlotte.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Counts said. “This community really does like to be involved, and really does take volunteering seriously.”
While the majority of volunteers come from Charlotte and North Carolina, Counts said all 50 states are represented. Because the host committee isn’t providing housing for volunteers, out-of-towners are encouraged to stay with family or friends.
During convention week, Counts said, volunteers will have their own headquarters for T-shirt pickups and daily information.
Also in the works are training sessions for volunteers. Those are being designed with the help of the Charlotte chapter of the American Society for Training and Development. Chapter members are donating their time so the volunteer pool is well prepared, said Keith Vincent, president of ASTD Charlotte. Their work will include preparing training videos and written materials, and leading training sessions
“We want volunteers to not have a barrier between them and coming to their job,” Counts said. “We don’t want them to feel like, ‘I don’t want to show up because I don’t feel like I’m informed.’ ”
Although Counts expects the volunteer ranks to dwindle through attrition, she said the committee still has a job for everyone signed on. And there’s still a need for people who are already registered to log in again to pick their shifts.
Needed roles include “curbside loaders,” who will check credentials for everyone riding the shuttle system from the 160 contracted hotels.
One job that isn’t listed is staffing Obama’s closing night speech at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6. It remains to be seen whether volunteers will work that, Counts said. The ticketing process hasn’t been announced.
“We want our volunteers to really be able to experience the final night if at all possible,” she said, “through the public ticket offering, or through watching it.”
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