Friday, November 21, 2008

Track3 Volunteer Window

Autumn is always a critical time of year for Ontario Track3. The number of volunteers who sign up within a small window of November and December will determine the number of children we can invite into the program for the coming winter.

There are many factors that influence the size of our volunteer base during any given year. A cold snap in October can make the difference in drawing 15 volunteers from the Ski & Travel Show…that’s eight children on hill. Snow in late November may prompt 20 more volunteers…that translates to another 10 children on the slopes. A chair lift running in early December may motivate another 10 volunteers, resulting in an additional five children on hill. The waiting list is long and the weather does not always cooperate. There are never enough volunteers to invite every child into the programs and it can be truly heartbreaking.

The weather isn’t the only factor affecting the size of our volunteer base. While colder weather helps bring the upcoming ski season to mind for potential volunteers, our current volunteers and supporters are our most valuable resource to get people thinking about Track3. The vast majority of our volunteers come from referrals. It’s the stories we tell that make the biggest difference in what people are thinking. When each of us tells a story about our experience with Track3 kids, we create a snow storm of excitement and enthusiasm. Then, volunteers come through the window!

If there were ever a time to email everyone you know, now is that time…spread your story and invite some friends. If you have a bulletin board in the office, Track3 can give you posters to help you spread the word. If you belong to a health club, rowing club, badminton club, sailing club, golf club, bridge club, or any club, for that matter, now is the time to request a newsletter insert or to speak for a few minutes at a meeting. You’ll be a big hit at holiday cocktail parties if you change the topic from depressing stock market tales to heartwarming stories about the Track3 students. Please take a few minutes to get in touch with old friends, family and colleagues. These next few weeks represent our only window to encourage and receive volunteers for the coming season.

I love the bright, clear blue sky of a winter morning and the squeak of frozen snow under my ski boots. It won’t be long before I hear the familiar call, “The bus is here!”, as Track3 instructors, assistants and staff shuffle out to the parking lot, no coats and hands in pockets, to greet the kids from the Track3 student bus. One by one, each child will arrive in the doorway at the top of the steep bus stairs and while scanning the crowd for a familiar face, a smile will erupt. Each face, every smile, the sun, the snow…it just might be another best day of a child’s life. I know it will be mine.

That’s my story for today. I know you have a thousand of your own. Don’t be shy! Your stories matter.

To all the families with kids, returning and new to Track3, welcome! We are looking forward to seeing you soon for a wonderful season of fun and excitement.

To all the volunteers, returning and new, thank you for your support, for your time and for telling your stories. We have another great season ahead of us.

I hope the holiday season greets you with a new pair of warm ski mitts, a friend that joins as a volunteer and plenty of snow to make it all worthwhile.

See you on the slopes.

Steve Jones
Ontario Track3 Association for Disabled Skiers