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SLOC is urging Hispanics to join up

Volunteer and job opportunities are explained

Danielle Cribbs and Raziel Hernandez were among a group of people who gathered Wednesday night in hopes they will be doing something different about a year from now.

Cribbs, of Murray, is hoping to find a way to use her marketing, advertising and promotions skills during the 2002 Winter Games, while Hernandez, of South Salt Lake, is simply hoping to volunteer to help make the Games a success.

They were among about 20 people who attended a seminar at the Cottonwood Mall set up by the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce of Utah to demonstrate ways that Hispanic people can join in the Olympic and Paralympic effort. Representatives of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee explained details about employment and volunteer opportunities and procedures.

"We're just wanting to make sure they hear about the opportunities that exist in SLOC," said Jorge J. Arce-Larreta, community recruitment consultant to SLOC. "The goal is to see the Games not exclude anybody and instead include every aspect of the community."

"Our efforts are going out to all communities and sending the same message," said Christian LaBarbera, contact and temporary staffing manager. "SLOC is reaching out to all communities."

Arce-Larreta said Hispanics at one time probably believed they were being overlooked in the Olympic employment process, "but I think they feel good about efforts to include them now."

Mark R. Osterloh, president of the 23-member chamber organized in October, agreed.

"I think there's been a feeling of not knowing where to go," he said. "The Games will be something that will happen, but people have seen it as spectator sports and don't realize the opportunities for employment."

Those opportunities will be plentiful for full-time paid positions, Games-time employment and volunteers. Tens of thousands will be needed overall, including folks working for SLOC, contractors, sponsors and others associated with the Games.

Arce-Larreta said he believes the minority-employment push has shown results. Last July, only eight of 442 SLOC employees were Hispanic. Now 35 of 959 total employees are. Minorities totaled 29 last summer and now number 87.

"I think that demonstrates the commitment the Olympic committee has to include everybody," he said.

And, he emphasized, 42 percent of the minority employees hold management positions. "I don't think you'll find that kind of figure anywhere else in the state of Utah, Salt Lake City or Salt Lake County."

Cribbs and Hernandez both said they wanted to know more about Olympic opportunities.

"I appreciate that they're trying to recruit minorities," Cribbs said. "I'm not sure they're currently representative of the population of Utah.

"I think what happened is that initially they didn't do enough to seek out that. Now they're doing a good job opening it up to all diverse minorities, Hispanics included."

"I think this meeting was very helpful, but many people still may not know about this," Hernandez said. "They (SLOC) seem to really care of minorities, but maybe there needs to be more publicity about this."

Osterloh said his organization will help with that, as well as making Hispanic businesses aware of potential Olympic pluses.

"The Olympics will be here, and there is an abundance of opportunities for people to participate if they want to, and they can benefit financially," he said.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com