While some residents living on the outskirts of Charlotte are staying away from Center City during the Democratic National Convention, others are eager to plunge right into the action.
Mint Hill resident Gray Newman is one of the later – he’s a DNC volunteer. Throughout the week, volunteers will be stationed at the main event, hotels and other locations across the region, handing out information, giving directions and making sure guests attending the convention have everything they need.
Newman attended the DNC four years ago in Denver, Colo. During that event, dedicated volunteers made such an impression that Newman immediately decided to become one himself when it was announced that the DNC would take place in Charlotte.
“While I was there, the volunteers were just so helpful,” he said. “They made the experience a lot better, from all the way when we flew into the Denver airport to when we left. Also, I grew up here in Charlotte. It’s just a way for me to help out with probably one of the biggest events that has ever come to this area.”
Newman’s 20 hours of volunteer work, which he began earlier this week, started at volunteer headquarters. There, he’s making sure other volunteers have all the materials they need – information packets for delegates, maps and other resources – before they report to their stations.
“You mainly are there to answer questions,” Newman said. “There are lots of volunteers coming in from out of town, so those of us that know the area can answer questions” at the headquarters.
Next week, Newman will volunteer at the convention and will get to be there during President Obama’s speech.
Newman is currently slated to help with access control, which involves checking credentials as people arrive during the convention, making sure they have their tickets and directing them to the right locations.
Like many, Newman is a little concerned about the high volume of traffic the event will likely see, but he’s preparing himself for how to handle the congestion.
“It’s just something that you’ve got to be prepared for,” he said. “They’re supposed to have parking lots for the volunteers, so they’re prepared for that, but the actual traffic getting down there, of course, will be heavy.”
Although he’s in for a busy week, Newman is extremely excited about the opportunity to be involved in history in the making.
“The thing I’m most excited about is all the people that are going to be downtown, the excitement, the electricity around the area,” he said. “This is a very major event for the area of Charlotte, and the whole region, and to know that I’m going to be a part of that is really exciting.”