Would-be DNC volunteers wait for assignments

With 73 days to go until the Democratic National Convention, some of the 26,000 people who have signed up to volunteer are wondering when – or if – their services will be needed.

“I haven’t heard anything yet, but I doubt I’m the only one,” said Linda Pohle, who signed up as a convention volunteer last year.

Pohle was one of about 100 people who attended the Democratic National Convention Committee’s last “convention conversations” session June 11, with most of the questions focused on how they could be involved in this August’s DNC.

Pohle isn’t the only volunteer wondering what’s going on. More than 26,000 people have signed up to volunteer for the convention – two and a half times the number that will actually be needed. The volunteers will do everything from helping to direct convention goers, to talking up the convention’s environmentally friendly theme, to assisting with transportation and answering phones.

Denver resident Rose Jackson said she is surprised she doesn’t have a volunteer assignment only two months away from the convention’s Aug. 25 kick off.

“I don’t want Denver to look bad,” said Jackson. “It’s like having people at your house.”

Convention organizers said they’re in the process of training convention volunteer captains. The convention’s host committee plans to start making assignments – based on applicants’ skills, availability and interests – in July and to continue until the convention, according to its Web site.

“We’ll be assigning volunteers as they get trained,” said Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. “We’ll try to utilize as many [volunteers] as we can. We want to make sure we respect their time and enthusiasm.”

For now would-be and won’t-be volunteers will have to be patient.

“We will communicate more to volunteers in July and August on final assignments and training,” said Chris Lopez, spokesman for the Convention Host Committee.

The meeting Jackson and Pohle attended, at Mile High Station near Invesco Field in Denver, was the last in a series of 10 community forums designed to promote the opportunities the convention will offer Denver residents and businesses as well as to address any convention-related concerns.

Like the potential volunteers in attendance, many audience members wanted to know how they could participate, and even gain access into, the convention.

A 16-year-old boy wanted to know how to get involved with this year’s convention even though he couldn’t vote. After the crowd applauded him for his enthusiasm, panel members told him to encourage his friends to get involved and attend the convention’s Youth Forum.

Others wanted to know if, and how, members of the general public could get inside the convention’s Pepsi Center site during Aug. 25-28, with one man suggesting the DNCC hold a lottery to give away a single ticket to the event.

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J.C. O'Connell

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