Team Jamaica Bickle: Serving Jamaican athletes
The opportunity to interact with future Olympians is one of the main factors that have caused Team Jamaica Bickle to continue to attract a steady cadre of volunteers at a time when several social organisations are struggling to get primarily younger volunteers to give back.
The organisation is well known in the diaspora for providing hospitality services for Caribbean athletes at the annual Penn Relays. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Irwine Clare noted that the volunteers appreciate the fact that they are helping to contribute to the well-being of the athletes.
"You get to interact. It is hard work, but you enjoy it," Clare said.
Clare and several of these volunteers were guests at a Gleaner Editors' forum held on Friday at the newspaper's North Street headquarters. He noted that some of the volunteers have particular preferences.
"I think we have an oversubscribed scenario for people to work in the tent," he said.
"We are short of people who want to come on board and find unique ways of raising funds, which is what we really are. We are a fundraising mechanism because if we don't have money, this thing is not going anywhere," he said.
Michelle Neil, who volunteers with the group, believes that people like to work in the tent for a variety of reasons.
"It is the food, but also, I think, people are willing to give back. That's how I got involved myself," she said.
Working under the tent is not necessarily an easy undertaking.
"I don't necessarily think that working under the tent is sexy. It is rough. You are talking about keeping an environment clean because you are dealing with food," related Andrea Daley.
"These kids, as much as you would say, 'Clean up after yourself', oftentimes they don't. Then they (volunteers) are tasked with serving [and] cleaning."
Volunteer Coordinator for Philadelphia Michele Bartley said that most of the team's recurring volunteers are over 35 years old. Volunteers are recruited from university campuses, churches, and from diaspora groups.