15:24 PM

Volunteer Ambassadors return to TPA

The Airport’s friendly faces standing by with a smile to welcome arriving passengers have returned. Volunteer Ambassadors on June 29 resumed their duties of providing information and assistance at the baggage claim level.

Volunteer Services Manager Dortresia Johnson put the call out inviting the volunteers to return not knowing what kind of response to expect.

“Approximately 25 percent of the 240 active volunteers have returned,” said Dortresia. “It’s slower than they are used to, but they are glad to be back and very happy to be out of the house.”

Before the volunteers returned, enhanced safety modifications were made to the workspace in accordance with the TPA Ready program.

The volunteers are only stationed in the baggage claim area where the kiosks have been outfitted with plastic shielding. The volunteers, like all TPA employees, are wearing masks and there is an ample supply of gloves, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for frequent use. Only one volunteer is scheduled to work at each location during a shift.

Jeff Zorn, who has been with the program for more than four years, is one of the volunteers who was eager to return to the Airport.

“I missed the Airport, missed talking to the people,” said Jeff. “It feels a bit different, but everyone is wearing their masks and I feel safe. And it’s still the best airport around.”

Dortresia said that she understands that a large percentage of the volunteers, many of whom are local retirees, are not ready to come back to the Airport and no one will be penalized for delaying their return. The requirement of 100 hours of annual service has been waived, although the volunteers may still enjoy the free parking benefit if they’re traveling.

“We know that it’s important to respect their comfort level,” said Dortresia. “They are one of the Airport’s greatest assets and we’ll be ready to welcome them back when they’re ready to return.”