We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Leah Lakustiak, Co-Chair of Mission Services at the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games about her volunteer experience and involvement at the Games!
Question 1: How did you hear about the 2023 Saskatchewan Winter Games?
Answer: Lorne Lasuita recruited me after I met him at the Canada Summer Games. The Canada Summer Games is when I became more aware of the Saskatchewan Winter Games that were taking place in Regina this year!
Question 2: What motivated you to become a volunteer for the Saskatchewan Winter Games and what inspired you to start volunteering?
Answer: I have always enjoyed volunteering for various organizations in some capacity over the last 10 years, whether it was for my children's school activities, sport activities, or with work. It takes many volunteers to make an event of any size successful, so when Lorne asked me if I could help with Mission Services for the Sask Winter Games, I did not hesitate. I knew I would learn something new, meet new people and it would be a positive and fun experience for me! It was very rewarding, to say the least!
Question 3: What were your roles and responsibilities as a volunteer?
Answer: Theresa and I helped finalize and coordinate the Mission Services Orientation meeting that happened before the Games. We attended monthly Athlete Experience Meetings under the direction of Lorne Lasuita and Robyn Bird. We worked closely with Leanne Schellenberg (Manager of Sask Winter Games) and communicated with Leanne throughout the process to coordinate what needed to be done for set-up and takedown of the Mission Office area for the Games. Throughout the Games, we maintained a physical presence at the entrance of the Mission Office to help athletes, coaches, and the public with any questions. We maintained supplies for the Districts and communicated any necessary information that came down from the Host Committee. We also looked after all venue keys for the various spaces at the University of Regina with a sign-in/sign-out process.
Question 4: What has been your most memorable experience as a volunteer at the Games?
Answer: The most memorable experience working at the Sask Winter Games was working with our amazing Athlete Experience Committee. Everyone was so nice and we were always there to help each other out. We were a great team! I have learned to be more organized, to be more patient, and always be positive in high stress situations. Sometimes there are things that don’t go as planned, but there are always solutions and at the end of the day. Everyone did their best to make it a successful Games, I truly believe that.
Question 5: What were some of your successes as a volunteer at the Games?
Answer: I think just being acknowledged daily that were doing a great job and the kindness of everyone around us. The Mission Staff Districts were a lot of fun! Everyone was there to make sure the athletes had a positive experience.
Question 6: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in volunteering but doesn't know where to start?
Answer: Sign up for general volunteering to start- this way you can become familiar with the different volunteer roles and areas. Maybe you like would like ticket sales at the venue doors, security, serving food, or timekeeping.
Question 7: How do you balance your volunteer work with your other commitments in your life?
Answer: Just like anything, I prioritize what is needed and what needs to be done. It is the same with volunteering- I was able to adjust my family life around my volunteer schedule. Also, my children are adults and I have a very supportive husband, taking on more of a committee role was not difficult for me.