Special Olympics Georgia (SOGA) would not be able to carry out its mission of providing sports competitions to those with intellectual disabilities without its volunteers. With only a small staff of full-time employees and over 500 sports competitions throughout the year, it takes a large and dedicated volunteer force in order to make our program a reality.
SOGA provides our volunteers with the opportunity to volunteer alongside our athletes as they compete in sports like basketball, bowling, bocce, soccer, gymnastics. See how your time and effort makes an impact as you watch our athletes compete in what they love to do.
There are also fun and exciting special events that need volunteers. Where else can you see people plunge into the cold waters of Lake Lanier in the middle of Winter, watch 10,000 rubber ducks race at White Water, witness cops spend an entire weekend on top of Krispy Kreme Donut Shops or be handcuffed to a treadmill for several hours?
There are numerous volunteer roles with SOGA – from assisting with competitions and special events, to becoming certified coaches and serving on management teams or committees.
When are the Special Olympics?
There are several events held throughout the year including 5 State Games and several more special events. For a list of upcoming events, click here.
How do I volunteer?
To volunteer, download the volunteer packet, fill out Volunteer and Coach Profile Form and then send the form into the state office. Once your form is received, you will be placed on the volunteer list and will begin receiving the monthly e-newsletter, which lists upcoming volunteer opportunities, and occasional emails with news in regards to events. It is the volunteers’ responsibility to inform the Volunteer & Event Manager what events you would like to volunteer for, so it is important to read the e-newsletter and to visit the SOGA website to check for updates.
What is the Protective Behaviors Training?
Protective Behaviors is a training program used for volunteers to help prevent the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of Special Olympic athletes. It consists of an 18 page training and then a 10 question test. To complete the training, volunteers must correctly answer 10 out of 10 questions. After you have finished and submitted the test, a confirmation email will be sent to you and SOGA, who will keep a record of your training. Click here to complete the Protective Behaviors training.
Do I need to take the Protective Behaviors Training?
It is MANDATORY that all Class A volunteers take the Protective Behaviors Training. Class A volunteers are defined as volunteers who have regular, close physical contact with athletes; volunteers in a position of authority or supervision with athletes; volunteers in a position of trust with athletes; volunteers who handle substantial amounts of cash or other assets of the program. However, we highly encourage ALL volunteers to complete the training because it is an excellent training on how to look out for and prevent the abuse of our athletes.
Do I need to complete a criminal background screening before volunteering?
You only need to complete a criminal background screening before volunteering with SOGA if you need to be or plan to be considered a “Class A” volunteer.
Volunteer positions that are required to be Class A status are as follows:
- Local Coordinators
- Area Management Team members
- Local Management Team members
- Certified coaches
- State Games, Games Organizing Committee Members
- Bus drivers, nurses, chaperones, unified partners and any other volunteer attending a State Competition with a Special Olympics Georgia delegation.
What is SOGA’s criminal background screening Policy? Click Here
Where can I see a list of upcoming SOGA events that you need volunteers for?
Click here to learn about upcoming events for the year. You can also sign up to receive the SOGA e-newsletter, which lists updated volunteer opportunities. The e-newsletter is sent out the first Thursday of every month. Click here to sign up to receive the e-newsletter. If you see an event that you are interested in volunteering for, please contact email@example.com.
What are the volunteer age requirements?
We invite volunteers of any age to come out to volunteer, but if you are under the age of 16, you must be accompanied by an adult when volunteering. A few special events – Bregman Conference, Duck Derby and all golf tournaments – require all volunteers to be 18 or 21 years or older to volunteer.
How do I volunteer with a local program close to me?
Contact your Sports and Program Manager for a list of local opportunities in your area. Click here for a list of areas and the area’s Sports and Program Manager.
How do I become a SOGA coach?
To become a coach, you must get certified through SOGA in the sport that you wish to coach. If you are interested in coaching, click here to find your Sports and Program Manager. Please contact your Sports and Program Manager to obtain information on becoming a coach.
What is the time commitment for volunteering?
Volunteer shift times vary depending on the event. Volunteers are required to stay for the entire shift that they are assigned to, and usually shift times run 3 – 5 hours long. Schedules are always flexible before an event as long as the volunteer notifies the state office before the event.
What is the difference between a State Game and a special event?
The state games are Olympic type competitions that are held five times a year. This is where our athletes are competing and take place for an entire weekend. The state games require anywhere from 500 volunteers to 1000 volunteers. The five state games include the Indoor Winter Games, the Summer Games, the Master’s Bowling Tournament, the Horse Show and the Fall Games.
Special Events are on a much smaller scale and are usually a fundraising type of event. Usually these events are day only and require less than 30 volunteers. Athletes may be in attendance at these events but they are not competing.
How many State Games are there?
There are 5 State Games held each year – the State Indoor Winter Games, the State Summer Games, the Master’s Bowling Tournament, the Horse Show and the State Fall Games. Click here to learn more about all 5 State Games.
Where are events held?
Events are held throughout Georgia. For a list of events including where each event is held click here.
How can I get a group/my company involved?
We are always looking for groups and companies to get involved with SOGA. Certain events, like the State Games, are much larger and require more volunteers than some of our special events, so the Game are usually more appropriate for groups. Groups are usually kept together when volunteering as long as everyone in the group can volunteer at the same time. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, click here.
Can I complete my community service with SOGA?
Yes, SOGA often has opportunities for individuals to complete community service hours by working within our office assisting with administrative tasks. These in-office opportunities are available on an “as needed” basis and are not always available. If you need to complete community service hours, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about availability.
Do you need administrative help in the office?
We are always looking for volunteers who can come into the SOGA state office to help with general office duties. We are looking for help during regular business hours. If you would like to volunteer in the SOGA office, please contact email@example.com to set up a schedule.
Does SOGA have committees that I can join?
Yes and we would love for you to join! We are always looking for dedicated volunteers who would like to help organize and plan upcoming events. We ask that anyone who would like to join a committee to be able to join the staff and other committee members once a month for committee meetings, be ready to help sell and promote the event to everyone they know and more, and be able to come out the day of the event.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining a committee.
I need to keep track of my volunteer hours for school, work, etc. How do I get a record of my volunteer time?
You can bring a volunteer form with you for someone to sign at the event or you can contact Liz Smith after the event and he will send you a letter with your volunteer hours.
Should I sign up to receive the SOGA e-newsletter?
It is probably best if you do sign up for the SOGA e-newsletter especially if you plan on being an active volunteer with SOGA. The e-newsletter is sent out once a month and provides up-to-date volunteer opportunities that you may have forgotten to sign up for and new volunteer opportunities that may not be listed on the calendar of events. The e-newsletter also features more than just volunteer opportunities and will keep you up to date on everything that is going on with SOGA. Click here to sign up to receive the e-newsletter.