New Orleans volunteers to help Super Bowl visitors feel welcome

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Students at Dillard University will volunteer to work the Super Bowl. 'What a fabulous opportunity to be able to be involved,' said Mona Duffel Jones, senior director of communications and marketing for Dillard University. 'It’s a great way to give something back to the city, to get involved and to have fun.'
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Students at Dillard University will volunteer to work the Super Bowl. 'What a fabulous opportunity to be able to be involved,' said Mona Duffel Jones, senior director of communications and marketing for Dillard University. 'It’s a great way to give something back to the city, to get involved and to have fun.'

Super Bowl XLVII will draw more than football fans to New Orleans for the big game. More than 8,000 volunteers have signed on to help with activities surrounding the monumental event.

Volunteers will begin appearing in mass the Wednesday before the game and have duties up to and including waving goodbye to fans at the airport on Monday.

Jeff Rossi, director of volunteers for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and for the 2013 Super Bowl Host Committee, said, “We have volunteers doing all sorts of things.”

“A lot of what we’re doing is city ambassador type things, greeting people at the airport, being in hotels. We even have downtown ambassadors that we position at various street corners throughout the city,” he said.

A substantial number of those signed up to volunteer represent groups already highly active in New Orleans’ volunteer community. One such group, Women of the Storm, a non-partisan alliance for political action, has more than 50 representatives volunteering for Super Bowl.

Volunteers representing Women of the Storm will be working downtown at the NFL House, a private hospitality area for NFL partners.

Of Women of the Storm’s volunteer duties, founder Anne Milling said, “We can tell (guests) about great restaurants or answer any questions about the city or help them in any way in making any plans.”

“It’s really ambassadorial,” she said.

Milling explained that the mission of Women of the Storm has always been supporting the city of New Orleans, so volunteering for the Super Bowl seemed a natural fit.

“We’ve always just been advocates for the city and things that will benefit the city,” Milling said. “Of course we jumped at the opportunity to be involved with something that is so important to the city and the metropolitan region.”

Laura Politz, chairwoman of Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, said her group is also proud to represent New Orleans during the Super Bowl.

“This is such a huge event for our city. It’s a time for the world to see New Orleans and the progress that we’ve made,” Politz said. “I look forward to welcoming visitors to our city.”

Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans formed after Hurricane Katrina with the goal of helping Louisiana citizens organize for renewal and reform.

“We have a history of working collaboratively with other civic-, business-, and reform-minded public officials … to bring about effective, meaningful change around important issues for the common good,” Politz said. “I think that history of working collaboratively with others is where we fit into volunteering for the Super Bowl.”

The 14 volunteer representatives of Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans will be working as “Captain/Head Coaches” at the NFL Experience, an interactive, professional football theme park of sorts that invites fans to participate in games and activities, view memorabilia, and even see the coveted Lombardi Trophy up close.

A group of 150 students from Dillard University will also be volunteering at the NFL Experience.

“What a fabulous opportunity, to be able to be involved in the Super Bowl,” said Mona Duffel Jones, senior director of communications and marketing for Dillard University. “It’s a great way to give something back to the city, to get involved, and to have fun.”

Of student volunteers, Jones said, “They’re great ambassadors for the university, first of all. And part of the mantra at the university is to be a part of the community so it’s something that’s engrained in them … that it’s part of your civic duty to do something to enrich the community in which we live.”

Jones explained that as Dillard students are required to complete 120 hours of community service before graduating, the volunteer opportunities offered through the Super Bowl seemed a perfect fit for the student body.

“Especially here in New Orleans, there is a lot to do and a lot (students) can be involved in and the NFL Super Bowl experience is just one of those things that they can do and that’s also fun to do.”

“It will expand (students’) horizons and it will give them a sense of community and a sense of connectedness to the world outside the classroom,” Jones added.

“This city is so fortunate to serve as host of the Super Bowl and we understand that it takes a community effort to make an event of this magnitude a success,” Politz said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors and helping to basically showcase the city and the progress the city has made.”

Milling said, “The feeling I have, and I think that it’s shared by so many people, is that everybody wants this (Super Bowl) to be just a home run for us. And it will be. I have no doubt.”