Advice From TCM Volunteer to Crew 52

How to survive and thrive in your volunteering experience at an event like Super Bowl weekend

Submitted to Opinions Editorial Board of the Star Tribune, January 24, 2018

 

Hello, fellow Crew 52 volunteers – all 10,000 of us! I’m sure you’re eagerly anticipating the Super Bowl coming to Minneapolis and your role in it. You might be a little nervous, too – all the people, all the questions, all the hours and – yes, we can discuss it -- the cold weather we’re not supposed be bothered by up here in the Bold North.

I’m not trying to come off as Ms. Know-It-All, but as a longtime Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon volunteer, I’ve experienced a lot of what I think we can expect as volunteers when the Super Bowl comes to town. This will be my first Super Bowl, but it’s not my first rodeo. Allow me to offer a few tips, tricks and insights I’ve picked up over the years.

First, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. You’re going to do a great job. It’s not like you need to score the winning touchdown. You just need to be happy, helpful and on the job. But, high-fives all the same, you’re a superstar for offering your time to the community. Someone from New England or Philly is going to remember the help you gave them – and let’s be really nice to the Philly folks, so we don’t look like sore losers.

You’re going to do a great job. It’s not like you need to score the winning touchdown. You just need to be happy, helpful and on the job.
TCM + Crew 52 Volunteer Kathy Petron

Second, let’s deal with this cold weather business up front. It could be darn cold, but we shouldn’t let our guests think the weather is bothering us. This is Bud Grant country we’re representing. So wear boots with two pairs of warms socks, sport that “Love your Melon” hat the organizers gave us, cover exposed skin and – say it with me Minnesota – dress in layers. I work the Valentine’s Day 5K every February, and dressing right made life manageable when it was 10 below and the wind was whistling across Lake Harriet.

If you’re worried about keeping your phone working in the chill, here’s my inexpensive solution. Put a hand-warmer in a pocket that’s close to your body. Then, take your phone, put it in a Ziploc bag and put that in the warmed pocket. The combo keeps the battery toasty so it lasts longer. If you know you have a long day and will need to use your phone regularly, bring a charged battery pack, too -- and don’t forget the cord!

So what do you need to pack?

So what do you need to pack? Think of it like a little camping trip, where you carry what you need but leave the nonessential stuff behind. We have that great Crew 52 backpack, but you don’t need to fill it like it’s a Boundary Waters expedition. Pack something to snack on, bring a water bottle to keep hydrated, and pack some warm stuff you don’t think you’ll need, but might be glad to have. You might have some additional personal items you need to add to the list, but that should do it. Leave the bug spray behind.

The most important part of being a good volunteer is showing up, so plan your transportation ahead of time.

There are lots of great public transit options, free to volunteers, so take advantage of them! Plan your route and allow for busy streets and lots of traffic. Leave early, Minnesotans are supposed to be a punctual people.

The most important part of being a good volunteer is showing up, so plan your transportation ahead of time.

So, let’s see … you’re at your post on time, you’re staying warm, you’re cheerful and helpful and you’ve got your snacks and water. I think you’re set to do a great job.

Now here’s the surprise awaiting you: You’re going to get back more than you give to the Super Bowl. Seriously. You’ll help the event run smoothly and assist nice folks when they need it, no doubt. But, you’re going to walk away smiling and with spring in your step like I do after each marathon. Maybe you’ll have needed to do something out of your comfort zone and really nailed it, likely you’ll have made someone’s day, certainly you’ll have made new friends and bonded with strangers. All that will leave you feeling like you did score the winning touchdown.

So my fellow volunteers, let’s get ready for to make the Super Bowl a once-in-a-lifetime experience – for our guests and ourselves!

 

Kathy Petron, Volunteer, Twin Cities In Motion Association of 15+ years
Division Director, Marketing and Public Relations
2016 Mary O'Neill Determination Award Winner