Super Bowl volunteer diary part 4: Champions of check-in

The crush of check-in at Crew 52 volunteer headquarters in downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 28, 2018.

Laura McCallum, MPR’s managing editor for daily news, is one of the 10,000 people volunteering during Super Bowl week. She’s documenting her experience on NewsCut. Check out part 1, part 2 and part 3.

I know you’ve all been wondering (and many of you have been asking) if I got bathroom cleaning duty again. Nope! My assignment for shift #2 was at the check-in counter for volunteers, and it was great, even if we had to be there at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday.

When volunteers show up for the downtown shifts –  whether that’s working at Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall, in the skyway or at headquarters – we check their credentials, give them a small souvenir (Crew 52 pin for shift #1, socks for shift #2 and a heart-shaped Super Bowl pin for shift #3) and tickets for snacks and soup. Yes, there’s soup! (see previous post)

Several of us at the check-in counter also volunteered together Friday night. Gail Robinson, who works at Optum, was one of my partners in clean-up crime (again, see previous post) and Jason Wong from 3M was assigned to empty garbage cans. We were delighted to have a new job for our second shift – can you tell?

MPR’s Laura McCallum and fellow volunteers Jason Wong and Gail Robinson.

And if any of the “champions of check-in” (so labeled by Ronica Hopkins when she took our pic) got stumped by a question, we referred them to the help desk. There you’ll find Rebecca Reinke, who works at 3M and goes to St. Thomas, and apparently doesn’t sleep, since she’s been at headquarters all weekend.

There isn’t a problem she can’t solve, although if you haven’t already picked up your uniform, you’re stuck with size 3XL, and if you didn’t get your purple Bold North mittens at orientation, you’re out of luck, they’re all gone.

Rebecca Reinke from St. Paul staffs the help desk at Crew 52 headquarters.

Another volunteer, Elaine Beckstrom of Watertown, told me some stories of pretty dedicated volunteers: one from Superior, Wisconsin, who was up at 5 a.m., drove to Minneapolis for back-to-back shifts outside at Super Bowl Live and then drove back home. The woman from Embarrass who drove four hours each way to be here for a 20 minute interview, an hour-long training and then her three shifts. Elaine herself left her house at 4:30 a.m. to make sure she was here on time.

And hardly anyone is bailing on a volunteer shift. For this morning’s 8 a.m. skyway host shift, 170 people out of 178 checked in. That’s over 95 percent. I double-checked with the Host Committee folks, and I was right – volunteer attrition has typically been 20-30 percent at past Super Bowls, but it’s been under 5 percent here.

Plenty of people wonder why anyone would volunteer more than a dozen hours for this. Most of the people I’ve met are joiners – they like being part of something, they volunteer a lot anyway, and the uniforms are a nice perk. Some think it looks good on a resume.

My motivation?  I thought it would be interesting to blog from the inside. Turns out plenty of people want to read about that. And while it’s been a nice change to write again (says this former reporter turned editor), I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed hanging out with the other volunteers. Is that too Up with People for your blog, Bob?

Champions of check-in.