A little over a year ago, Candace Spencer, a Tax Manager here at SJG, was looking for a way to give back to her community and volunteer with a charitable organization, but wasn’t sure what to do. She didn’t just want to volunteer for something random – she wanted to find something that would touch her heart. “I was trying to find the perfect fit for me, so that my work would be meaningful both for the organization and for me personally,” says Candace.
As she was listening to the radio one morning, she heard a segment about the Special Olympics of Georgia that mentioned they were looking for volunteers. “Listening to the other volunteers describe their experiences on the radio, I realized this could be it.” She immediately went online to learn more about the organization and the upcoming Special Olympics Winter Games. After viewing photo galleries and videos of previous games, she knew this was the organization she wanted to work with.
Candace’s first volunteer event was the 2013 Winter Olympic Games. “It was an amazing feeling. The energy is contagious and the people are wonderful! Complete strangers are supporting and high-fiving each other.” As part of her training for the Games, she learned how important it is to treat these competitors as the dedicated athletes they are. “They are so excited to be participating and have worked hard to get to their events. We are there to support them and cheer them on as they accomplish their Olympic goals.”
Attendees and participants in the Special Olympics of Georgia come from all over the Southeast. “It’s just like the larger Olympics where people are from all over, and you get to meet so many great athletes and their family and friends,” reports Candace.
While the athletes feel like the sports stars they are, Candace says volunteers feel wonderful as well. “The whole time you’re there, everyone is thanking you and it feels like a big family gathering. And as you watch the athletes compete in their events and see them so excited, you can’t help but be emotional as you realize that you are participating in something truly wonderful. I get as much out of these events as the athletes themselves. It’s something I think everyone should experience.”
If you would like to learn more about volunteering with the Special Olympics of Georgia, please visit their website at www.specialolympicsga.org/volunteer or reach out to Candace.