The biggest event Albuquerque’s ever hosted outside of the International Balloon Fiesta, the National Senior Games is just a week away and the city still needs hundreds of volunteers.
The push for help now has the city partnering with local businesses and institutions to help fill the 7,500-volunteer gap.
With a national audience of roughly 25,000 people expected to travel into Albuquerque for the games, the city’s reputation is on the line.
“It’s sort of a once in a lifetime deal for us,” said Alicia Manzano, a key organizer in city’s National Senior Games prep and Mayor Tim Keller’s Liaison for Strategic Partnerships. “This is like the Olympics, it’s just for seniors.”
The event is expected to start on June 14, lasting 11 days through June 25. Twenty-one different venues will host the games, many of which are owned by the city of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico.
The Pit basketball arena, downtown’s Civic Plaza, the Manzano Mesa Multi-Generational Center on the eastside of Albuquerque, the West Mesa Aquatic Center, and the westside Albuquerque Regional Sports Complex baseball and softball fields will all be used during the National Senior Games.
“We’re hoping that some of these folks fall in love with the city, move here, send their grandkids here, it’s a really good opportunity for us to showcase what the city has to offer,” said Manzano.
The city needs volunteers to ensure the events go off without a hitch. The city says it still needs about 400 volunteers to round out the roughly 7,500 volunteers they need on hand.
Seven days out from the start of the event, the city has turned to major employers for help, including UNM.
“We’re a major organization in this city, and we need to be able to give back,” said Connie Beimer, Director of Government and Community Relations for UNM.
UNM is committing around 400 volunteers to the various events during the National Senior Games. The University is also planning to give its employees paid leave to take part in the effort.
“This is a huge event for our city, and a huge opportunity,” said Beimer.
The university says each UNM employee is eligible to take up to five hours of paid leave, away from their UNM work, to volunteer for the games.
“We’re asking our employees to voluntarily give back some of their time and that we can reimburse them is the least we can do to help,” said Beimer.
UNM says the investment is worth it to make sure Albuquerque puts its best foot forward.
“The expertise we have should be shared with the community,” said Beimer.
UNM says it’s still trying to calculate how much paid leave it will pay out through the volunteer effort. The city says Presbyterian Health Care and Starbucks have also offered paid-volunteering for their employees to help at the National Senior Games.
If you’re interested in signing up to volunteer for the National Senior Games, click here.