Red Deer’s Eric Oosterhoff was one of the thousands of volunteers who helped the 2019 Canada Winter Games run like a well-oiled machine.
The 32-year-old logged nearly 150 volunteer hours leading up to and during the Games, which ran from Feb. 15 to March 2 in Red Deer.
“It was a fantastic experience overall. I’m really happy I could help out and get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event,” he said.
“Ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to … experience different opportunities. I like helping out around the community and with this happening right in our backyard I thought why not?”
Oosterhoff’s main role as a volunteer was an accreditation supervisor, where he was in charge of the badges others would receive; this includes applying security settings.
He also volunteered another 50 or so hours in the past year-and-a-half through the Games’ Volunteer Ambassador Program, which raised awareness for the event.
“I kind of knew what I was getting into. Ever since the Games were announced back in 2015, I told myself this is something I definitely want to get into and I want to be as involved as possible,” he said.
Oosterhoff, a mechanic at Central Brake and Muffler Auto Center, used his vacation days during the Games so he could volunteer as much as possible.
“Just because I’m not going somewhere tropical doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it as a vacation.”
One of the most memorable moments for Oosterhoff was going to Canyon Ski Resort to watch some of the snowboard competition.
“I’m a snowboarder, so that was exciting to see. Being out there I bought a half-day pass and went on a few runs myself. It was beautiful weather and amazing to be out there to experience what was going on with all the effort we put into it,” he said.
Oosterhoff said the Games was “a good adventure,” and recommends other volunteer at events like this.
“Anybody debating on volunteering their time to do something like this massive event, don’t think and just do it. It’s a great time, you meet lots of new people, you get to experience something you wouldn’t normally do otherwise.”
Oosterhoff is right back to volunteering this week, as he will spend his time at the CCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championships Red Deer College, which got underway Thursday.