If you had told Paulette Petahtegoose, of Belle River, that she was going to receive a volunteer position with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games after her interview, she might have laughed in your face.
“The answers were timed, and it felt like the more complicated the question was the shorter the time was to answer. By the end of my interview, I was tripping over words,” said Petahtegoose, “I thought I sounded like a donkey!”
But, when Petahtegoose got the call that she got the job, she was thrilled. She was designated to be a production assistant, a vague title that means that when she comes on the scene, she gets to do a variety of different tasks to help the Pan Am Games and Parpan Games of Toronto run smoothly, said Petahtegoose.
Petahtegoose is a University of Windsor graduate and works for TD Canada Trust, along with being a part-time professional volunteer.
She has ambitiously taken on a variety of charitable projects, including rebuilding homes in Mexico, taking lead for her company’s Dragon Boat for Breast Cancer, and assisting the University of Windsor’s Student Life Director.
Now, she is fortunate enough to experience the Pan Am Games first hand.
“I can only describe the experience as out-of-this-world. The people I have met, and the experiences I have had, so far are phenomenal. People are wonderful here, and so cultured. I have met seasoned professionals from all over the world,” said Petahtegoose. “I get to learn new things every day.”
However, Petahtegoose still lives in the Windsor area. She has been spending the past few months commuting to and from Windsor as she balanced her job with her volunteering, and will continue to do so until the games end in August.
“The other volunteers I work with joke that I am the most dedicated volunteer they have ever met. Most people live in the city, and can take a GO train or subway. Others may have to carpool a little ways, but I haven’t yet met anyone that makes the commute I do,” said Petahtegoose.
To attend a shift for Pan Am Games, Petahtegoose has to drive an average of four hours there, and four hours back, forced to struggle with traffic, parking and gas prices. And if her shifts are close together, she needs to put her own money down for accommodation. She has set up a GoFundMe page for people to help her make ends meet.
“A lot of my time and money are dedicated to other individual’s needs. I truly never ask for anything, except now,” wrote Petahtegoose on her GoFundMe page
Despite the monetary struggle, Petahtegoose has nothing but positive moments to share about the Pan Am Games, and is even looking forward to the obstacles that may face her now that the games have begun.
“I am super excited about how crazy and hectic it is going to be. I thrive in stress, so I am looking forward to obstacles and how I can overcome them,” said Petahtegoose. “That will be the most rewarding part. Those are the situations I will learn from the most.”
The Pan Am Games run from July 10 to July 26, while the Parpan Am Games goes August 7 to 15, and events will take place across the Greater Toronto Area. There will be 41 countries and close to 7,000 athletes competing in 36 Pan Am and 15 Parapan Am events.