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    Volunteers signing up to show off the city at Democratic convention

     Volunteers who help out at the Democratic national convention will help delegates and other visitors get to know Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Volunteers who help out at the Democratic national convention will help delegates and other visitors get to know Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Go figure: 7,000 people have volunteered to help out, free of compensation, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July. The host committee is looking for another 3,000, and I expect they’ll get it.

    Ed Dougherty, 60, is a communications software salesman who volunteered in 2000, when Philly hosted the Republican National Convention.

    “It’s great to feel connected to this signature event, one that happens every four years and is such a vital part of our process in America,” Dougherty told me. “There’s a sense of history being made.”

    Hannah Tran, volunteer coordinator for the local host committee, says people volunteer for the experience and out of a sense of civic pride. What will they do?

    Just about everything, she said.

    “Volunteers who are deployed to the perimeter of the Wells Fargo center will be assisting the credentials checking,” Tran said.

    Others will help with transportation, dealing with reporters, generating social media about the events, and greeting delegates who need help finding their way around.

    Dougherty said he loved helping visitors discover the city, and watching their preconceptions of Philadelphia melt away.

    “There is a sense of surprise, a sense of ‘I had this impression, and look what I’m seeing. There’s a lot more here than I thought,'” he said.

    Tran says there are daytime and evening shifts, so people can help out even if they’re working full time.

    “And we can engage volunteers as young as 14, so this is also a fantastic opportunity for families to come out,” she said. “High school students who are really interested in the political process can spend a portion of their summer helping us out.”

    Volunteers won’t be paid, but there is a welcoming party the Thursday before the convention. “I like to call it dessert before dinner,” Tran said.

    Volunteers are needed from July 24th through the 28th.

    If you’re interested, call 215-710-0770 or get more information here.

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