Games Profile: Michelle Farrow, Inspiring Volunteers

By Myra Ross - Monday, May 4 2015

Michelle Farrow is working with the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games team to attract the legion of volunteers who will help young athletes achieve their best performances and take home the experience of a lifetime.

From August 7 to 16, the municipality will host the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, a 10-day sport competition and relationship-building extravaganza that is predicted to draw an estimated 2,500 young athletes as well as thousands of coaches, officials, family members and cheering squads.

For an event of this magnitude, it’s the effort and dedication of volunteers that will ensure its success.

As the Volunteer Workforce Coordinator for The Games, Michelle Farrow has assured her husband this year will not be routine. As a new mom (Cooper, 3, and Weston, 2), she will be relying on the support of friends, and her multitasking abilities to execute a great Games Volunteer On! program.

To meet organizational and operational deadlines and targets for volunteers, she will need to engage with a broad swath of the community. Meetings, presentations and events – many at night and on weekends – will continue for Farrow until the Games begin.

“We’re so thankful to have such a good support system,” she says. “We have no family here, but our friends have been so wonderful and supportive, because they know how important this is to me, and to the community.”

As a recreation professional for 13 years and as a Community Strategies Coordinator with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Michelle has extensive experience in working with volunteers. For that reason, she was seconded from the RMWB for her role with the Games.

“In my role, I will be coordinating 3,000 volunteers for all of the functional areas of the event, but my main priority is recruitment,” she explains. “It’s salesmanship. Research says that people volunteer for the cause because they want to help. It’s altruistic. And it’s my job to help them help the Games.”

However, engaging, inspiring, training and organizing 3,000 volunteers, is no small feat.

“Our goal is to have our volunteer base by the second week of June,” says Farrow. “To reach the target, we are going to be relying on individuals, corporations and small businesses to spread the word about the importance of being a part of the Games.

“We are also encouraging youth volunteerism,” she says. “Volunteering is the ultimate resume builder and we believe that will attract a number of students. It will be my responsibility to ensure we give the youth an experience they’ll never forget. We want them to feel important, challenged and helpful."

“Being the Volunteer Workforce Coordinator, I get to engage people of all ages. Prospective volunteers are looking for a fun experience that teaches them something and challenges them.”

“Shell Canada Energy is our exclusive volunteer sponsor, and has given us so much support. Every Games volunteer will have the Shell brand on their back and hat.”

“It will be a badge of community pride.”

Every community member can play a meaningful role in the Games. Some volunteer positions require specialized skills and work experience, while others simply require a desire to roll up your sleeves and pitch in. There are opportunities to interact with athletes and spectators in the venues and ceremonies. Others will work behind the scenes in transportation, medical services, merchandising, information technology, press operations, communications, and workforce services.

2015 Western Canada Summer Games volunteers will be provided with:

  • A comprehensive training program
  • An opportunity for a volunteer certificate
  • An official Shell Games Volunteer uniform
  • Refreshments and meals based on shift duration
  • Games-time access to public transit with accreditation
  • Invitations to special volunteer recognition events and entries in volunteer-only contests

Volunteering at the Games will be a rewarding experience. To register as a volunteer, visit the official Summer Games website.

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