Rewarding Volunteer Experiences
I’m writing to express my gratitude to SOMO, and the very special athletes, as well as the opportunity to volunteer my time. Although I have only recently volunteered a few times – once at a basketball tournament in Wentzville and once at the Area Spring Games Track and Field event – it’s clear that I will continue my volunteer efforts to support these athletes and this fine organization.
I will try to express and share my brief experiences, but the old adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies here. I also recognize and understand that there are many other volunteers that are more qualified and experienced than me to share an opinion; however if you are giving consideration to becoming a volunteer for SOMO, please read through my thoughts and then “just do it.” You will have no regrets or you may think like I have and wonder why I haven’t done this sooner.
My first experience, as mentioned, was in Wentzville where I worked keeping score for several basketball games. The players were adults who truly played the game for how it was intended. Observing the commitment of the coaches who reinforced the importance of teamwork, following the rules of the game, and fairness to players was clearly evident. The athletes themselves played the game at a high level with a sincerity and passion that you must observe in person. The genuine satisfaction and enjoyment in making a good pass and/or shot, and care for their teammates and the other team was always evident. The sportsmanship displayed during and after the game to everyone, including us scorekeepers, referees, and each other would warm anyones heart. The athletes simply appreciated the opportunity to compete. All levels of competitive sports could take lessons and learn from these athletes. I had only signed up for the morning session, but I assure you I didn’t want to leave. Actually, I then visited the school across the parking lot which was also hosting games, to see if additional help was needed. Fortunately, I was able to spend more time providing assistance for those games, as well.
My second experience was at the Area Spring Games for Track and Field. I volunteered to be a “buddy” where I was assigned an athlete with the responsibility of being with them throughout the day to ensure that they attended each of their events. I was amazed at the number of volunteers, at least several hundred, anxiously ready to take on their assignment. The coordination and organization of the activities was admirable. I was fortunate enough to be assigned to Katie Heald, a 9-year little girl, who had the energy and enthusiasm of several athletes. She truly brought a smile to everyone at every event she participated. I also had the opportunity to meet Katie’s mom and her 12 year-old sister Jennifer, who also was a participating athlete, in the morning, as well as enjoy lunch together. After lunch, we took a few photos, and then continued on with the events. The excitement of receiving medals by the athletes and their families is also a “must see”. Katie’s events were completed early in the day, so once again I found myself not wanting to leave. I just observed people for about another hour in amazement and was humbled and honored to be a part of the day.
I have had many great experiences in the field of education, where I have recently retired; however the gratification from the connection to these athletes and families, as well as other volunteers is second to none. Observing the coaches, proud families, athletes, coordinators, and other volunteers will want you coming back for more. I hope this encourages more people to set aside time to support the fine organization of SOMO, especially these fine athletes.
– Dave Rogowski
We have volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Learn more on our website.