National Volunteer Week: Jim Reynolds

Cowboy by Heart, General Contractor by Profession

By Kelsey Lewis

Over three decades, numerous different jobs and thousands of hours of work. That’s what Dog Pound (Support Services) member Jim Reynolds has done since becoming part of Special Olympics Southern California in the 1980s.

“Basically, I do anything anyone else doesn’t want to do,” Jim joked.

Jim was first introduced to Special Olympics Southern California 36 years ago when the company he was working at wanted to get involved with a charity organization. Once he began volunteering his time in 1987 at Special Olympics Southern California, he never stopped.

“It gives me an opportunity to be able to give back,” Jim said. “Volunteer your time and know that it is going for a worthwhile entity.”

Over the years, Jim has done just about every job that there is in preparation for SOSC’s championship competitions. He has been ensuring the Games are successful by supporting it behind the scenes. Without Jim and the Support Services team of about 40 people, the Games wouldn’t be able to run at all.

“Jim brought a lot to the game’s organizing committee,” said Bill Fields, Special Olympics Southern California Asst. Vice President of Sports Partnerships. “Jim plays a big role in the day-to-day operations of all of our chapter games. He’s always willing to jump in. ‘Teach one, reach one.’ That makes up Jim Reynolds.”

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Jim works with a group known as the Dog Pound. Often behind the scenes, the Dog Pound is support services for the Games and are integral in producing an electric atmosphere for the athletes, families, spectators, and volunteers.

Their roles include setting up tents, building equipment, collecting trash, managing shipments, delivering supplies and water to all venues, overseeing A/V and electricity, supporting the dance (including DJing), tearing down the entire Games when it’s over, and much more. It’s a massive task that Jim has been involved with since the Dog Pound was established.

“I can’t imagine running the Dog Pound without Jim,” said Dog Pound member Stormy Anderson. “Jim plays an instrumental part of the operations of the games and is incredible at knowing what needs to be done and does it with a smile. We support each other, lean on each other, laugh, cry, and have so many memories. I have been truly blessed to have Jim in my life.”

For Jim, this is the greatest part of volunteering. It’s being with the athletes as well as the team he has grown to know like family. The family aspect he has with his team helps amplify the accepting and joyous atmosphere they want to create for the athletes. Due to their great chemistry and regard for one another, they can create a moment the athletes will never forget—as a team.

“Usually you come together and see people because an event happens; it’s gone full circle to the point where the event happens because we get together,” Jim said. “We all know what needs to be done. We don’t need to ask questions. We all go about and do it. Nobody says, ‘Hey, that’s not my job.’ We just do it and get it done in order to make it the best experience for the athletes.”

One of those moments, in particular, was the time Jim designed the Special Olympics torch to come down from the roof of The Walter Pyramid at California State University, Long Beach during the Opening Ceremony.

“It was [cool to watch],” Jim said. “All of a sudden all the lights in the Pyramid went down and everybody started looking up and here comes this flame slowly coming down a guidewire.”

Brilliance and determination. Those two words describe Jim to a tee. Without Jim’s brilliance within games management and the determination to make the Games the best event for each and every athlete, there would be no Games. From lights to wires to award stands to trash pick-up—Jim and his Dog Pound family have worked every inch of every Games in the past 30 years. What the Games has evolved into wouldn’t be what it is today without his tremendous heart and desire to get work done to provide the best experience for athletes.

“He develops volunteers for the Games; he develops staff for the Games,” Fields said. “His side of game management is brilliant; he has a vision and focus that is far above and beyond. He’s a truly committed volunteer.”

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