The Salvation Army has always been about helping out, and this year’s Pan Am Games in Winnipeg are no exception.
Anne Johnstone of here was among more than 50 volunteers representing Salvation Army corps in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba.
From Monday through Thursday of last week, Johnstone, who only learned about the Salvation Army’s role in assisting at the games a few weeks ago, helped in the kitchen at the athletes’ dining hall.
“We had a choice of ‘Child Find’ and the kitchen, and I chose the kitchen--I burn easily,” she laughed.
Johnstone spent the four days doing such tasks as wiping trays, taking washed glasses off the rack, and making sure the juice kept flowing for the thirsty participants--the latter of which was especially important in the July heat.
But it was the new faces that kept Johnstone thankful she volunteered.
“I met many, many people,” she noted, including athletes and volunteers from elsewhere.
She admitted all the different languages were a bit of a barrier when it came to dealing with some people. “I wish I knew my Spanish,” she admitted.
“But the Jamaican athletes spoke English, and they were very friendly,” she noted.
Another problem included a tight schedule of five five-hour shifts during Johnstone’s stay, which restricted her time there. “I didn’t get to see any of the events,” she lamented.
Transportation also was a bit of a problem as the Salvation Army volunteers travelled in groups and their camp was located outside Winnipeg.
“It was a nice camp but when there was word going ’round about getting to stay at some of the homes of armed forces staff, I would have
said yes,” she smiled.
Still, despite the heat and hectic schedule, Johnstone still said it was well worth it. “It was an opportunity to help out with something bigger,” she remarked.
“I’ve volunteered for the [Salvation] Army for years and it was another opportunity to follow their way,” she noted. “It’s amazing to get people together to help out with anything.”
Johnstone even got a few momentos to bring home, including a photo of the Canadian silver-medal winner in women’s cycling and a cap autographed by many of the players on the women’s basketball team.
And would she ever consider doing something similar again?
“There were some organizers from the Sydney Olympics committee, and that made me think, ‘Wow, it be neat to help with something like that,’” she enthused.
“I think I’ll figure out how many Air Miles I’d need to get to Australia,” she joked.