It was like a support group meeting — 22 people took turns introducing themselves and sharing a memory.
But these people do not need help and are not ashamed of their addiction — the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, they are volunteers offering to help at the upcoming Colts training camp and were sharing their experiences from last year’s camp and expressing their excitement for the session's return to Anderson.
Tony Givens, who drove a golf cart during last year’s training camp, said his favorite memory is of a guy who came up to him, hugged him, and asked for someone to take their picture. [Photo: Anderson University's Pauletta Swank leads a training class for new Colts camp volunteers at Anderson University on Tuesday.]
“I got my 15 seconds of fame,” he joked, as others laughed. “I don’t know who he thought I was!”
The group of returning unpaid volunteers attended the first volunteer training session Tuesday morning at the Kardatzke Wellness Center at Anderson University.
An evening session for new camp volunteers was held that evening, and more will be held throughout the month as additional people sign up.
About 50 volunteers have stepped forward, but at least 150 more people are needed to help out during camp from July 28 to Aug. 17 at AU, said Pauletta Swank, a coordinator for the volunteer team. AU’s human resources office oversees the volunteer base.
Volunteers will fulfill many duties, including driving golf carts, greeting guests, helping players and team staff, providing information, watching for lost children and ill visitors, hosting hospitality tents, overseeing bleacher sections, gathering data, making phone calls and more.
Swank said that people are assigned to duties based on their applications and what strengths, interests and availability they show.
Kathy Young, the other volunteer coordinator, said the number of volunteers needed each day varies, and depends on the events going on and the expected crowd. When Colts City is open, the camp needs 50 to 60 volunteers on hand, but when it’s closed that number drops to 25 to 30. On a popular night filled with a fireworks show and a concert, 90 volunteers were on deck, she said.
Cheryl Hubble, 65, Anderson, has volunteered at the past two training camps and is excited to return.
“My favorite thing was watching the Colts up close,” she told the group. “I’m such a big Colts fan. Jeff Saturday is my favorite player, and I got to talk to him two or three times.”
Swank said that while volunteers are fulfilling duties and wearing their volunteer shirts they are not allowed to ask for autographs, take photos or initiate conversations with the players, but can talk to them if the players approach them. And before and after their shifts, they can act like the rest of the fans.
And that’s what Hubble did. While working, she took advantage of and enjoyed getting up close to watch the players practice and interact with each other.
“But as soon as her shift was over, she would run and change shirts, then line up for autographs,” said her friend and fellow volunteer Susie Cates, 65, Anderson. Both of them helped in several jobs last year, including directing traffic, welcoming guests, and overseeing the bleachers.
Swank said the only requirements to volunteer are that people must be 18 or older, have a picture ID and can attend a training session. She said that people can commit to just a few hours or all-day every day. Swank added that everyone can be put to use, no matter their mobility.
And, a key part of the job is to be personable, helpful and to smile.
Swank said that when people travel, what they remember most is not the place, but the people.
“That’s why these volunteers are so important,” she said. “They are here to promote hospitality, be a good representative for the community and provide a safe environment.”
For more information or to apply, call 641-4132, email email@example.com or visit the Anderson University Office of Human Resources at Decker Hall, Room 11, 1100 E. Fifth St., Anderson.
—Melanie D. Hayes is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.