I have written in the past that I believe one of the elements that contribute to Palo Altoís character is the active and robust volunteering that takes place here in town. Whether it is helping out at a local school, coaching a childís sport, working with our open space resources, to name but a few, it is impossible to estimate the value of all the time, effort and thinking that Palo Altans contribute . We are fortunate as a community that this is the case, and it is a point of distinction for Palo Alto.
And we all have a tremendous opportunity to show our volunteer colors this summer by volunteering at the Senior Games, which take place August 1-15 at Stanford, in Palo Alto, and at other venues in the Bay Area.
My friend and former Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commissioner Anne Warner Cribbs, is leading the local organizing committee that manages this yearís event. Anne had been involved in efforts to get San Francisco to bid on the Olympic Games, and herself was a medal winner in swimming at the Olympic Games some years ago. Although the attempt to get a successful bid to bring the Olympic Games here did not pan out, the experience that her group gained in developing a proposal led to the Senior Games deciding to have their program in the Bay Area in 2009.
This is a big deal. Over 12,000 athletes aged 50 and over qualified to compete in these games. An estimated 30,000 will visit Palo Alto and stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop at our stores. There is no charge to attend any of the events at the Games.
4,000 volunteers are needed not just during the games, but prior to their start. Companies such as Intel have committed to provide employees to be part of the volunteer cadre, but many more are needed to fill all the duties running these games entails. The duties vary, so depending upon a personís skill set and interests; there likely are volunteer opportunities that are a fit.
And now is the time to sign up to be a volunteer, even though the Games still are 4 months away. There is a great deal of planning that goes on up to the start of the Games, and planning how to best put the volunteers to use is an enormous exercise all by itself.
I hope many of us in town are able to attend and enjoy the games while they are here, and I hope as many of you as possible will not just be spectators, but also participants of a sort by volunteering to help out. I am certain it will be a worthwhile and satisfying experience for those that do.
Go to www.2009seniorgames.org and follow the links to sign up. Do it tonight, there is no reason to wait.