For Marge Noble, volunteering for the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games shows how life can come full circle.
The long-time Penticton resident will volunteer as a host for Gymnastics in the Penticton Community Centre gymnasium. But this isn’t her first BC Games experience.
Noble was the Host Chair back in 1978, when Penticton hosted the inaugural BC Games — an initiative launched under Premier Bill Bennett. His vision for the Games was to provide “an opportunity to bring all parts of B.C. together, large and small communities, in the spirit of sport and friendship.” Bennett served as the premier of B.C. between 1975-1986 and passed away on Dec. 4.
“Bill Bennett and his MLAs felt this was the community that should kick this off. We were blazing new trails into making this a success. We could see the vision,” Noble said.
“We were outside during the Games when he approached and he welcomed us. I found him very warm,” Noble said. “He was such an Okanagan man, so it must have been very gratifying to be at the first Games in Penticton. He was very complimentary.”
For Noble, hosting the BC Games in Penticton was an opportunity to learn new skills and raise the profile of the community.
“At that time, we felt we were a special community and handed this opportunity that was a tremendous project for Penticton and the province,” she said.
Noble brought together 32 friends and acquaintances, gathering in her living room and describing the opportunity to help out with a historic event for Penticton and the Province of B.C. as well.
“They all took it to heart,” said Noble. “It gave us an outlet as wives and mothers.”
The hostesses were given pre-training, including a two-day course from the Ministry of Tourism at the time, as well as bright uniforms to help visitors identify them at venues.
Once the Games began, Noble recalls her hostess team were everywhere at all times — helping to make sure athletes received 8,000 boxed lunches and were on track to eat other meals provided by the then-Penticton Inn. That was the basics; once they were on site, it was dealing with anything that came up.
“We became the trouble-shooters for the Games,” she said. “We were really well organized and rose to the occasion.”
“Back then, there was no cooking available at the Peach Bowl. No cellphones, no computers, nothing,” she laughed. “We made the best of the tools we had to work with. But everyone pulled out all the stops. You can’t put a price tag on what volunteers do, really.”
The first BC Games drew national attention, televised by BCTV (now Global BC) and CKLK. Special wishes were also relayed from the Prime Minister’s Office — then occupied by Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Thirty-seven years later, another Trudeau sits in the PMO, the Games are set to return to Penticton and the South Okanagan, and Noble is helping out in the Games office leading up to February.
“I’m a grandmother now, and I see what the BC Games does not only for my granddaughter, but the mark it makes on all the athletes’ lives,” she said. “It’s so fun to be part of a team.”
Penticton’s got game – do you? Penticton needs volunteers to help prepare to host the BC Winter Games from Feb. 25 to 28, 2016. This undertaking will bring over 2,000 young athletes, coaches, officials and families to the South Okanagan, resulting in significant economic impact for local businesses.
Hundreds of helping hands are needed to make this event a success. Areas most in need of volunteers are: Accommodations, Security, Food Services (prep cooks, etc.), Promotions (photography, writing)
You can sign up online at www.bcgames.org or give the Games office a call at 250-492-2026.