One day while delivering groceries for Pride Pantry, I stopped at the address given to me. It was an old, rundown commercial building. Getting out and looking around, I prepared to go on to my next delivery thinking there was a mistake in the address. Just then, a woman my age came up and asked if I was with the Pride Pantry. She said she used that building’s address and, pointing to an old broken-down car, she said, “That’s where I live.”
That was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had since I began occasionally volunteering for various events at the Center in the late ’70s before becoming an official and consistent volunteer in 2006.
I first came to the Center as a client in 1976 in a pretty bad emotional state. When my appointment came, I think I just spouted out “I think I’m gay and don’t know what to do about it!” They taught me it was OK to come out when I was ready.
Then came AIDS. I have a phone book with 43 red ribbons representing persons I have known and lost to AIDS. I became involved with AIDS/LifeCycle in 2011 as an overweight, out-of-shape ex-smoker. After a couple of years riding, I became a Training Ride Leader.
The year before Proposition 8 was on the 2008 ballot, I began showing up regularly to work the phone banks even though I absolutely hate cold-calling people. Evidently, I was good at it.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been volunteering on Thursdays and Fridays with Pride Pantry. Just being with friends and doing the various tasks that need to be done is most enjoyable. I’ve met so many like-minded friends through volunteering.
I’m in a position to be able to give back, and I enjoy doing so as much as time allows, especially now that I am retired. My work kept me busy and traveling for many years, but I learned to tell my boss I had a volunteer commitment and simply left work to volunteer. As long as my performance excelled, they didn’t say anything about it!
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Year Started Volunteering at the Center: 2006
Volunteer Positions: Senior Services, AIDS/LifeCycle, Policy