They’re the unsung heroes of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ world: The small army of volunteers comprising the Big Blue Flight Crew, without whose hard work and dedication game days wouldn’t even get off the ground.
Equally invaluable? The person tasked with directing the Flight Crew to success — in this case, Red River College grad Kelly Seifert, who earned her Volunteer Management credentials in December 2010.
Seifert, who completed the program via RRC’s School of Continuing & Distance Education, now works as the Volunteer & Event Staff coordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, overseeing the 200-plus volunteers who provide such game day services as ticket scanning, ushering, shuttle service, and on-field promotions.
As she points out, volunteers are a crucial component of the game day experience, and their efforts help to ensure operations run smoothly.
“Some people think they just want to watch the game or get free tickets,” says Seifert of her volunteers, who also assist with concerts, amateur games and even administrative work at the Canad Inns Stadium site. “But it’s more than that. A lot of them come because they want to connect to the community, or meet new people, or experience the behind the scenes action of the football club. I’m so glad they come out and want to dedicate their time to us.”
Seifert had prior experience with volunteers when she signed on with Red River College. Having already completed RRC’s Recreation Facilitator for Older Adults program in 2005, she worked frequently with volunteers while serving as recreation facilitator for various long-term care facilities.
At the time she enrolled in the program, she was working as recreation director for the town of St. Laurent; she landed the job with the Bombers while competing the program by distance.
“It was very beneficial to the work I was already doing,” says Seifert. “And I loved (the distance education option). It was great to be able to complete the program from home, working at my own pace.”
Seifert says she often finds herself drawing on the marketing and recruitment skills she acquired at RRC, and happily admits to keeping her old textbooks on hand for guidance when developing new strategies and initiatives. Since signing on with the Bombers, she’s made it a priority to ensure the organization’s volunteer staff runs at peak performance, through frequent evaluations and recognition and incentive programs.
In the future, she’d like to work with other organizations in Winnipeg to consolidate volunteer pools — in particular, on charity initiatives that will benefit the larger community.
Speaking just days before the Bombers were set to suit up for their last game ever at the old stadium, Seifert says she — like most within the organization — is thrilled about the pending move to the new site at the University of Manitoba.
“I’m excited to see what the outcome will be, and how we can liaise with the Bisons and incorporate our volunteer program with theirs,” she says.
“There’s going to be a much broader spectrum of things going out at the stadium — I’m really looking forward to it.”
Click here for more information on RRC’s Volunteer Management program.
Click here for more information on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Volunteer Program.