by Gretchen Engel
Volunteers are the glue and duct tape that hold the conference together. It’s a behind-the-scenes way to serve each other.
There are quite a few ways to serve Realm Makers. Most require nothing more than an hour or so of your time. Some roles do require you to miss content. This is something first-time attendees might struggle with. What? I must miss part of a wonderful session I paid to attend? Yes, but sometimes those are the moments where God meets you. Whether it’s praying with an attendee, a conversation with someone you’ve been wanting to meet, or maybe a break that you didn’t know you needed, you might be surprised at the blessing you receive from donating an hour or two of your time.
How Can I Serve?
These are the people responsible for setting up, taking down, and helping shoppers at the bookstore. I know, I know, you thought we had elves to do that. Sorry, but a few kind Realmies gave away their socks and freed the last few we had in our employ. Those SPEW people are persuasive!
If you’re a Realm Maker unicorn-dragon (i.e. extrovert), arriving early, or are a returning attendee, being a greeter might be the role for you. You say none of those apply? That’s okay. Well, you do kind of need to be at the conference early since this role is for Wednesday and Thursday. If you’re going to be around, all you need to do is stand where we station you and guide lost Realmies to where they need to go. I’ll tell you where those places are. (I won’t even make you complete a quest.)
This is another role for those arriving early or late arrivers who have time machines that go in reverse. Set your machine to Thursday morning, afternoon, evening, or Friday morning. Note: We do have people at registration during the Early Bird session. Because this is an add-on, we do everything in our power to cover those times with people not attending the Early Bird.
Classroom hosts make sure the session is recording, introduce the speaker, and sit toward the front to be available for the instructor if they need anything like water, a pen, or to walk their service Tribble if it gets fussy. The good news is you don’t miss content because you’ll be assigned to a session you signed up for. The bad news is you have to stand in front of a room and speak into a microphone. Guess what? We haven’t lost an introvert yet. And yes, we’ve had a few brave enough to host sessions.
Calling all prayer warriors! If you don’t have an AMEN blaster or an intercessory sword, don’t worry. God will meet a willing man or woman of prayer and equip them with what they need. This is a position where I would love to have several men and women. Prayer is intimate, and many prefer to pray with someone of the same gender. This is one of the positions that requires you to miss content.
I saved the most important role for last. You’re my favorites. Just kidding. Sort of. This is where I camp out most of Realm Makers. I say “most important” because agent and editor appointments are a critical part of the conference and scheduling requires NASA-like precision. Your role is to make sure every appointment stays on time. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Well, not for those who dream of flying an X-Wing fighter on a mission to blow up the Death Star. This is another position that requires you to miss content.
Behind the Scenes
This is my third year as volunteer coordinator, and I truly love it. Maybe it’s the crazy jigsaw-puzzle-piece spreadsheet I create the first couple weeks of July, where I do a lot of slotting, checking, and praying over each time slot for each role. Yes, I pray early and often for each one of you.
I will set up a Facebook Page for volunteers for Realm Makers 2019. This is a place for last-minute schedule changes, added tasks, or people who want to help but didn’t sign up at registration.
About the Volunteer Coordinator:
Gretchen E.K. Engel poses as an environmental consultant for a large engineering firm, but by night, GEKE dons her cape and picks up her pen to write steampunk tales. Her manuscript The Barber Surgeon won the 2018 ACFW Genesis Award for Speculative Fiction and several of her short stories have been published in anthologies as well as flash fiction pieces in magazines and online. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her husband, son, daughter, and two black cats. The GEKE-Mobile may not be as tricked out as the Batmobile, but she challenges it to navigate snow better than her Subaru. GEKE might lack superpowers, but she has mad Excel skills.