The 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, as well as a wide variety of sports, civic, and arts and cultural events, are in the planning stages and all of them will need volunteers to help welcome baseball fans from across the country. How can these large scale events harness the energy of local volunteers? 

In 2012, Cincinnati hosted the World Choir Games, an extraordinary arts and community event that welcomed thousands of singers and music-lovers from all over the world. Central to the World Choir Games’ success were the efforts of more than 5,000 local volunteers who assisted in everything from ushering performances to serving as translators for international choral groups.  It was a spectacular example of Cincinnati’s can-do spirit, and inspired the creation of The Welcomers Network.

The Welcomers Network was founded by Shannon Carter, 2012 World Choir Games USA co-chair and founder of Crayons to Computers, and Louise Hughes, board chair emeritus of the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau and retired Director of Community Engagement at P&G.  Using a database and powerful integrated software to connect volunteers to multiple organizations, the Welcomers Network is dedicated to enhancing the region’s economy and image by helping to host and attract large conferences, conventions, and other events.  More than 4,000 experienced volunteers are currently registered and 14 active partner organizations offer opportunities through the Welcomers common technology program. As a member of the initial planning committee, ArtsWave helped connect The Network to a number of its constituent organizations which now utilize the system. 

“Finding local volunteers is a time-consuming task for event organizers. Welcomers makes their job easier, and our region more attractive as a venue, by providing turnkey support for large-scale, one-time, national and international arts, cultural and special events,” said Carter. “These events bring business to our region’s hotels, restaurants, stores, and cultural institutions.”  

ArtsWave’s research into the intersection of arts engagement and civic engagement suggests that volunteering in the arts is an important way for individuals to deepen their roots in the community, make new friends, and build civic pride.

For community members who love the arts and want to get more involved, the Welcomers Network makes it easy to connect to some of the region’s most beloved institutions. Partner organizations include the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium, Cincy USA Visitor Center, Cincinnati Parks, Cincinnati’s World Piano Competition, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and local events such as LumenoCity and others sponsored by the Downtown Residents Council. 

“Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have a strong culture of volunteerism. One in four adults are volunteers. People take pride in using their skills and experience to give back to the communities where they live and work,” noted Hughes. “The Welcomers Network gives them a powerful way to channel that spirit and find new opportunities to make friends while having fun.” 

Volunteers can learn more about the Welcomers Network and identify opportunities at the Network’s web site: