On October 12, the United Way of Southern Nevada will roll out its Downtown ambassador program, designed to reach locals who’ve yet to pierce the urban bubble and tourists unaware of off-Strip options.
Volunteers (known as Dynamos) traveling in pairs will greet visitors, provide directions and offer tips on where to eat or drink, see art or shop. Some will even provide impromptu history lessons from their base locations of Fremont Street, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets and Pawn Stars’ Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
“We want to tell them about all of the fantastic things Downtown,” says Riley Foley, 23, Downtown Ambassador Coordinator, who’s busy recruiting the 50 Dynamos needed to launch the program. “A lot of people go to Gold and Silver Pawn and go right back to the Strip. We want to represent all of Downtown.”
Dubbed heroes swooping in to “help transform the city,” the Dynamos will take on six-hour shifts thrice monthly. Foley, hired specifically for the program, is managing the crew. His office in the Historic Fifth Street School looks out onto the neighboring Foley Federal Building, which marks his family’s legal lineage here. He walks the same campus, now used for offices and the Nevada School of the Arts, that his grandfather did decades ago as an elementary school student, and he’s aware of Downtown’s bustling days, as well as its years of neglect and abandonment.
For Foley, introducing others to his hometown is personal, and others are already embracing the idea of giving the urban area some love. The program’s first cleanup had 210 volunteers on a 112-degree July day, and 30 are already signed on as Dynamos.