More than 1,250 athletes will be in Rockland for the JCC Maccabi Games starting Aug. 12, and helping to organize the 12 sports will be more than 500 volunteers.
Still, there are a handful of spots still open for those looking to help out the first time the JCC Rockland hosts the annual competition. Stephanie Hausner, volunteer chair for the games, said they are still looking for volunteers to keep score for basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball games. They’re also looking for timekeepers for those sports, as well as a line judge for volleyball.
“With the scorekeeping, the volunteer should obviously have some experience,” Hausner said. “Same for the line judge.”
Volunteers have to be at least 18 years old, and Hausner said they can volunteer for as many or as few shifts as they’d like. A typical shift lasts usually in the two-and-a-half-hour to three-and-a-half-hour range, although some sports shifts can last around four hours, Hausner said.
“Most people have signed up for multiple shifts, which is how we’ve filled about 2,000 volunteer spots with around 500 people,” she added.
Hausner said they’re also still looking for volunteers to help out with transportation.
“We’ll have a bus loop going throughout the county during the day,” she said. “We’ll have one person at each athletic site making sure the buses are running on time and answer questions about the bus lines, so we still could use a few people to do that.”
As the games near, Hausner said volunteer spots have been filling up.
“People have been really excited, and we’re getting people of all ages from all over the county,” she said. “We’ve had to convince people to volunteer in other areas since some areas have a lot of people signed up for them. A lot of people wanted to volunteer to serve food. We’ve just had an outpouring of support from the community. A lot of people ended up signing up for more shifts.”
Some volunteers have also taken their support for the games a step further and signed up as a host family. About 430 families signed up to host athletes coming to Rockland from 40 delegations from across the United States and Canada, Israel, Latin America and the United Kingdom, according to Shari Maurer, a co-chair of the housing committee for the games.
All local families with a child competing in the games are required to volunteer as a host family, which makes up about 150 or so of the families. Each host family must take in at least two competitors, Maurer said, adding that some families are taking more, with the highest number being nine. There are a few host families in northern Bergen County and Orange County.
“We try to make sure everyone stays with at least one person from their delegation just so they have at least one person they’re familiar with,” Maurer said.
The host families are required to give the athletes breakfast in the morning, a snack at night, drive them to their morning event and pick them up at the end of the day from the night event. During the day, the athletes eat at the venues and are transported from venue to venue by the JCC.
The host families and athletes will have a chance to get to know each other a bit better on Wednesday Aug. 15, when there are no night activities planned.
“That’s a night we call Host Family Night, and it’s just a night for the host family to do something nice with the athletes,” Maurer said. “They can take the kids around Rockland or to the city, if they want. Most people end up getting together with other host families and athletes, and having a big pool party or barbecue.”
Maurer said they’ve been working for about a year getting all the host families they need for the games, with a big push coming last spring.
“We’re amazed by the generosity of people willing to open their homes,” she said. “My in Springfield[, MA] and stayed in someone’s home, and we were so appreciative.”
Anyone looking to volunteer during the JCC Maccabi Games is asked to call the JCC at 362-4400 ext. 539.