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Rochester Partnership Launches Community Host Program

October 28, 2010

Contact: Mary Gastner
rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau

Beginning November 1st, a partnership between Mayo Clinic, Rochester Senior Center, Rochester Downtown Alliance, City of Rochester, and Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau will place volunteers in the downtown skyways and pedestrian subways.  Officially named, Rochester Community Hosts, the volunteers will welcome visitors, answer questions, provide way finding assistance, and inform and encourage visitors to get out and experience Rochester and southeastern Minnesota. Hosts don bright green vests with the Rochester Community Host logo so as to be recognized by visitors as an official source for information. They will be stationed in the skyways and subways Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and as needed.

Each volunteer serving as a Rochester Community Host will be required to attend a general orientation session which includes a review of program policies, expectations and basic service training. The session will also cover an overview of frequently asked questions including Rochester community information as well as an opportunity to train alongside a Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Information staff member.  Community Hosts will have access to phones throughout the subway and skyway system in order to maintain contact with the CVB office in the event a question arises that they do not know the answer to or have the information available.

City leaders provide valuable resources

"This program will enhance what we have discovered this community does so well, and that is, offer assistance to those we pass by who look like they may need a friend to assist them," states Denny Hanson, Rochester City Council President. Hanson is one of the city leaders serving on the Rochester Community Host committee along with Jon Eckoff, Rochester Downtown Alliance Director, and John Murphy, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs and Rochester CVB Board Member. Murphy and the Mayo Clinic staff have been instrumental in connecting the Rochester Community Host program to training resources that are used in coordinating over 1,300 Mayo Clinic volunteers.

Rochester Senior Center puts feet on the ground

The Rochester Senior Center has also been instrumental in building the community host program. Seniors from the center have volunteered their time to serve as hosts during a month long pilot program. Betty Walters is one of the first volunteers for the program, "I jumped at the opportunity because I can relate to how overwhelmed visitors become when trying to navigate their way through our downtown skyway and subway system. And, I love meeting people!"

Kickoff event planned for November 1st

The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau will host an official launch for the Rochester Community Hosts program at the Mayo Suite on the second floor of the Mayo Civic Center. Beginning at 9am, the kickoff event will allow attendees to hear a brief overview of the program from Mayo Clinic, Senior Center, Downtown Alliance, and Convention & Visitors Bureau representatives as well as meet some of the first volunteers who have been serving as hosts over the past month during the pilot program. Information will also be available at the event on how to become involved as a Community Host. If unable to attend the November 1st event, interested volunteers may contact Keeley Hruska at the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau,

The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official marketing agency for the city of Rochester, responsible for destination sales and marketing efforts.  The RCVB works to encourage conventions, meetings, sporting events and business travel to Rochester and provides travel-planning support for the patients of Mayo Clinic.  The Convention & Visitors Bureau offers comprehensive information about lodging, dining, special events, activities and local attractions.  For more information, visit