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Olympic spirit - priceless

Pat Phillips is heading to the Olympic winter games to volunteer two weeks of her time. - Pirjoo Raits photo
Pat Phillips is heading to the Olympic winter games to volunteer two weeks of her time.
— image credit: Pirjoo Raits photo

Stepping outside her comfort zone is what Pat Phillips wanted to do when she decided to be a volunteer at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

That was three years ago and two years ago she signed up, bringing her thought and action together.

“For me it was a once in a lifetime experience, something bigger than my normal environment,” said Phillips just before she was set to leave to get her accreditation.

Phillips will be a volunteer load zone attendant, loading spectators and athletes on and off buses and VANOC vehicles.

She’s been to the Lower Mainland a couple of times already, getting training on keeping and entertaining people in the “cone zone.” No, she won’t be doing any soft shoe shuffle or singing, but she will likely be answering questions about British Columbia, Sooke, Canada and her work site — Cypress Mountain.

She said they have all been trained by experienced games people. They are training 5,000 people for transportation from a pool of 25,000 applicants.

“They had to interview 60,000 people to get 25,000 volunteers,” she said.

This went along with security checks on all volunteers.

She is taking more than two weeks of vacation time to volunteer for the games, and her employer, the BC Liquor Control Board will be giving her back a portion of her vacation days (leave matching).

Eighteen days of her vacation time, her own accommodation, some meals paid with vouchers, finding her own way up to Lonsdale Quay, a day that begins at 4 a.m. — priceless.

Phillips wants to impart a positive impact on people coming to the games from all over the world.

“Meeting people, that’s what it’s all about, different people from different places,” said Phillips. It’s another opportunity to show people who Canadians are — respectful, warm, tolerant.”

She will be doing as much free stuff as she can and never did anticipate taking in any of the games. Although she may go to the rehearsal of the opening ceremonies on February 10, if she is not working.

All in all it’s an opportunity which may never come around again for Phillips and she is excited.

She has also signed up to volunteer at the 2010 Paralympic games in March at B.C. Place. This time she will be a load zone attendant at the entertainers’ venue.

“It’s an adventure,” she said.

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