Robby Sayles, a MozFest volunteer coordinator, takes about 20,000 steps up and down the nine flights of stairs at Ravensbourne College each day of the festival. That’s a journey of about 30 miles for every festival he’s worked.
After this year’s MozFest, Robby Sayles will have walked over 120 miles in the name of a safe and open Internet for all. Though we don’t recommend MozFest as a weight loss program, Robby tends to lose a few pounds by the end of each festival.
Robby first volunteered for MozFest in 2013. He had recently become a Mozilla rep in North America and had heard stories about this “big tech expo to co-create gadgets and meet people,” explained Robby. Since he believed strongly in Mozilla’s mission and has always enjoyed helping people, Robby decided to attend the festival as a volunteer.
“I thought I’d just be handing out swag bags for a little while,” Robby remembered with a laugh. The amount of time and energy MozFest volunteers dedicate to the festival was unexpected, but he embraced it. Immediately, Robby took initiative and became a herder and a leader.
The volunteers keep the gears of the festival turning from the very start to the very end, juggling a wide range of logistics. They sit at the welcome desk and check in all participants. They serve meals to participants. They provide information on each floor of Ravensbourne College. They fix tech issues. They clean up after sessions end. They know the layout of the building and can guide people to the restrooms. They stage the festival and make sure all supplies requested by facilitators are provided: tables, computers, televisions, paper, markers, sticky notes, projectors, and more.
“MozFest is a wonderful time,” said Robby. “It’s amazing how this one building can turn into something totally different. I have never ever seen anything like it, ever. The transformation is the most amazing and craziest thing.”
Robby started as a volunteer, not a Mozilla Foundation staff member. As a coordinator, Robby is responsible for scheduling responsibilities for the over 200 volunteers. It’s important to him that the volunteers aren’t overworked, remember to eat, and can still participate in MozFest.
He and the other two coordinators, Ziggy Maes and Tom, start working six months before the festival begins. They meet with Executive Festival Director, Sarah Allen, every three weeks, to learn from past MozFests and brainstorm ways to make MozFest 2017 even better.
Volunteers can be anyone, from anywhere, “as long as they have the passion to help people and also have fun,” said Robby. All volunteers get in-person training, which includes learning skills on safety evacuation and medical emergencies. Interested in joining Robby? Click here to sign up to volunteer.