NATO volunteers welcome visitors at O'Hare

May 17, 2012 2:49:55 PM PDT
NATO summit delegates and their support staffs, who are beginning to arrive in Chicago, will receive a warm welcome when they step off their planes.

NATO volunteers are gearing for their job at O'Hare Airport. Hundreds of people have signed up to be a part of Chicago history. For the men and women, it means putting on their best face to greet and help visitors passing through airport.

"We are prepared to greet everyone and answer their questions," said Lori Igleski, NATO volunteer manager.

Because Chicago is trying to increase its international visibility, volunteers are going to keep a special eye on reporters that are covering event.

"We're interested in greeting them and welcoming them as well. They're going to write stories about the city and again, first impressions are made once," said Igleski.

Anxious to give out-of-towners that first impression are a variety of men and women. College students and retirees make up the bulk of airport NATO volunteers. All had to apply online and were given background checks. Volunteers are manning all of O'Hare's terminals.

Milan Stevanovich, 63, and retiree Rita De La Pena hope to dispel any negative stereotypes visitors may have of Chicago.

"To portray the city as a good place, that only brings people to the town and makes you feel good about it and makes them feel good," said Stevanovich.

"I love my city," said De La Pena. "Chicago is my city, and I just wanted to greet people and make them feel comfortable so that when they're here, so they know they're in a friendly place."

Unlike some her age that have chosen to protest the NATO summit, DePaul University senior Alyssa Rovansek volunteered to be part of the event.

"It's a good way to meet people, especially from other countries," she said. "I love learning about other countries and even the volunteers here today are from other countries."

Volunteers are working five and a half hour shifts starting Thursday and will be working through Tuesday.

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