Women’s Centre Football Volunteers: Supporting community in the stands

This past weekend was an exciting one for the Women’s Centre! Our volunteers got to witness the Stampeders play and win the Western Conference Final; they’re now off to their third Grey Cup game in five years! The Women’s Centre has been a community partner of the Calgary Stampeders for over 15 years; ensuring fans have a great experience while cheering on their home team. The Women’s Centre receives a significant part of its funding for programs from volunteering at Stampeders games. This year, we recruited 140 volunteer ushers to assist football fans during the game. This is a great opportunity for our male supporters to donate their time and talent as most of our volunteer positions are strictly for women.

We interviewed three long time football volunteers to learn more about their experiences and why they think it’s important to support the Women’s Centre.

Deb
Number of years volunteering:
11

Why did you choose football as a volunteering opportunity?

I was still in the work world at that time and a lot of the volunteer opportunities were during the day. I thought this would be a good way to help out. My first shift was exciting! I had been to football games before and knew the experience of the spectator, but it was different on the other side. At times, you get caught up in the excitement of the game, so you need to find a balance between being a fan and an usher. I keep it light – there’s a lot of laughter and good energy in my section.

What do you like most about volunteering?

I know the Women’s Centre makes a fair bit of money from the hours we put in and it goes towards the programs you do, which are quite important. If you’re a football fan, it’s a great way to give back! I invited my brother out one time to volunteer and he enjoyed it too.

Why do we need a Women’s Centre in Calgary?

The Women’s Centre offers a really unique service to all kinds of women in terms of what they need to receive and how they want to give. It’s a place of caring, sharing, learning and fun. I myself live in Bridgeland, so it’s easy to drop by for events like the AGM and workshops. My partner also volunteers at the Women’s Centre on the Social Issues Committee so I got learn more about the organization’s work through that.

Jan
Number of years volunteering:
13

Why did you choose football as a volunteering opportunity?

I used to have season tickets with my husband, who had passed away the same year, and I was having a terrible time trying to find someone to go with. I heard the Women’s Centre volunteering ad on the radio and decided to join. It felt good to go to the games again and the staff are a great support. I have the same spot every shift, in the middle of the field with the regular season ticket holders. They recognize me and appreciate me keeping the route clear so their vision isn’t blocked.

How did you first become involved with the Women’s Centre?

I brought toys to donate the Toy Room and ended up volunteering as well. It was fun to wrap them.

Why do we need a Women’s Centre in Calgary?

It’s a resource for so many diverse people. With our economy and the number of new immigrants arriving, we need these basic services even more. I was there for the Food Day once and thought, “Where would they be getting [this food] if they didn’t have a Women’s Centre?”

Murray
Number of years volunteering:
16

How did you first become involved with the Women’s Centre?

I taught just east of Calgary and my wife and I had season tickets for the past 20 years. The Stampeders had a bit of a downturn in the mid-70s. I, being a sports fan, was still eager to go but my wife could take it or leave it, so we ended up letting our season tickets go. We moved into Calgary, 16 years ago and [one day] my wife turned on the TV to Shaw with the little ticker at the bottom promoting community events. Every once in a while, she would holler upstairs asking me if I wanted volunteer and then said, “You can volunteer for the Stamps!” It was an ad the Women’s Centre put on through Shaw. We had to wait for the ticker to go around a few times, but once we got all the information I called and said, “Hey, I’m your man.” And, that’s how I got involved!

What do you like most about volunteering?

I get the best of all worlds. I get to work with the Women’s Centre. I get to work and train new people as ushers. I love the sport – just to be able to work with and help with other people. The opportunities [the Women’s Centre] provides to volunteer are endless and heartwarming. My success is being able to work with the people!

Why do you think we need a Women’s Centre in Calgary?

The Women’s Centre is definitely needed to help those who are less fortunate, those who are new to the city, or from domestic [violent] situations who have nowhere to go and nowhere to turn to. To be able to take people in and give them comfort, to let them know that there are people who care for them as well as to provide them with the opportunity to learn new skills. This is something that provides them with a love of mine, which is esteem. To improve, maintain, increase the esteem of women who don’t feel they are worth it.

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