For Maureen Foster and Christine Rodrigues, assuming the management of Special Olympics of Carbon County has been a labor they love.
Foster is the new manager and Rodrigues is the assistant manager. The positions were formerly filled by Carbon County Commissioners William O'Gurek and Charles Getz. The Commissioners helped reorganize the organization four years ago after it was inactive for a few years. The Commissioners gave the organization visibility and the spark it needed to make a successful comeback.
Now that Special Olympics of Carbon County is fully launched and flourishing with 60 plus athletes and 100 volunteers, the organization is on sound footing and the commissioners turned the reins over to the savvy and personable team of Foster and Rodrigues, who are looking forward to seeing it grow.
"We want to encourage more athletes to join and more volunteers to help us so we can offer more sports to the athletes," said Foster.
Foster grew to love the athletes when she worked for the Intermediate Unit for several years, while Rodrigues grew into volunteering for Special Olympics through her daughter, who has special needs. While both women have different backgrounds, it's their love of the special athletes and their goal to offer as many opportunities to the athletes to compete in athletic events that bonds them.
Presently Special Olympics of Carbon County offers bowling, floor hockey and track and field events, but are planning to add boccie by the fall.
Both know they can't expand on the program without the help of some interested people helping to assist them in their quest to bring more sports opportunities to the people with special needs in the community.
"We need people to be part of the management team and we are especially seeking to fill the positions we vacated when we took over the management positions," said Foster. Their former positions as volunteer coordinator and family coach are vacant and need filling so they can continue to meet the needs of local special athletes between the ages of 8 and 80.
Both women are also volunteer coaches simply because they love what they are doing.
"We need volunteers who can give an hour a month, a day a year or several hours a week," said Foster. "We'll accept whatever time you can offer."
Also needed is an athlete to serve as a 'global messenger.'
"The global messenger is an athlete's chance to share in their own words with others why Special Olympics is important to them," said Rodrigues. "We are hoping that with the help of a global messenger, we will not only educate the community about Special Olympics, but recruit new athletes and volunteers."
A global messenger must be over 18 years old, enthusiastic about Special Olympics, comfortable speaking in front of a group, and a good reader,
The global messenger is a volunteer position and that person will work closely with a speech coach and attend a two-day training at this year's Leadership Conference on September 18 and 19. Also needed is a speech coach to be trained and work closely with the global messenger. A criminal-background check is required. Both positions are volunteer positions.
A coach is also needed to help train athletes in boccie. Anyone interested in coaching can contact any Special Olympics coach. Training will begin over the summer months and competition would be held in October-November.
Anyone interested or who wants to learn more about either position, should contact Maureen Foster at fostermptd.net or (570) 401-1430. For additional information sSee the website at http://www.specialolympicscarboncounty.com/.