News, Super Bowl 2019

‘Welcoming, Energetic, Diverse’: 10,000 Volunteers Prep For Atlanta’s Super Bowl

Atlanta native Tonya Calhoun is one of the 10,000 volunteers selected by the Atlanta Super Bowl LIII Host Committee.
Atlanta native Tonya Calhoun is one of the 10,000 volunteers selected by the Atlanta Super Bowl LIII Host Committee.
Credit Lauren Booker
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Volunteer captain Tonya Calhoun is one of the welcomers that’s getting ready to host thousands for Super Bowl LIII.

More than 150,000 out-of-towners are expected to come to Atlanta during Super Bowl week —  double the maximum capacity of the game’s venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Lee Hendrickson, with the Atlanta Super Bowl LIII Host Committee, said.

So 10,000 volunteers have been selected to help out by giving directions, greeting visitors and supporting others from volunteer headquarters. The participants will be positioned throughout the city, such as near public transportation, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and hotels.

When Calhoun learned that the Super Bowl volunteer application was open, she knew she would apply. She said she was exhilarated to find out that she was chosen to be captain out of about 32,000 applications.

Captains led the interview process, trained general volunteers and helped set up the volunteer headquarters, according to Hendrickson, vice president of Community Engagement and Volunteer Programs.

Volunteering has been Calhoun’s passion since she was a child, and she has gone on to create a business called Altruistically Yours, LLC that specializes in helping nonprofits with their volunteer programs.

“I became a Girl Scout in elementary. I thought that helping people was the thing to do,” Calhoun said. “I am excited to give all of this energy that I have to people who will be coming from all over the world.”

The committee received 5,000 applications within the first 24 hours of opening the process, according to Hendrickson.

“It’s our record-setting year,” she said “So this is the highest number of applications that has ever been received for a Super Bowl volunteer program.”

Renita Anderson (Photo courtesy of Renita Anderson)

Atlanta-based teacher Renita Anderson applied for the volunteer program as a way to try something new and to learn more about the city. She will be a greeter near the hotels.

“Just getting to meet so many people and just showing the world about Atlanta and what we have to offer, … it’s like making history. It’s the Super Bowl,” Anderson said. “For us to host it, I would definitely want to be a part of that.”

About 90 percent of the volunteers are from the metro Atlanta area, and the remaining percent hail from various states in the U.S. and even from countries, such as France, Hendrickson said.

The training process has been going on for about two months and some of the topics covered included volunteers’ individual roles, Super Bowl week and human trafficking prevention.

“I think it’s a chance for them to come together as a community and to feel like they are really a part of that hosting experience. But at the same time they’re representing our city and our communities,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said the volunteer group’s culture exudes being “welcoming,” “energetic” and “diverse.”

“You get a chance to engage in a population of people who have also come together like you as a volunteer and they become family. I know that I am going to be talking to my volunteers, my cohorts after Super Bowl,” Calhoun said. “I feel like it’s [being a volunteer is] an awesome opportunity to showcase the love for so many people who will be here for the Super Bowl.”