Meet Center Volunteer Michael Rola

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Volunteering is something that comes naturally to me because my parents gave a lot of their time volunteering to schools, organizations, and their church before they passed. I’ve learned that I truly enjoy it and that’s what keeps me coming back. Being able to meet and interact and help others during these trying pandemic times has also been great and important for my own well-being—it gives me some extra purpose in life.

During the pandemic, volunteers were needed to screen clients at the front door of the McDonald/Wright Building. One day, one of the top four finishers from RuPaul’s Drag Race came in and said I was an angel for what I’m doing. That made me smile.

On the same day, a visibly shaken young person came to the front door to ask about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) services.  I worked with staff to get him upstairs and seen immediately, which was a huge relief for him. Later, when he came down to pick up his medication from the pharmacy, I was able to tell him “You’re going to be OK.” I could tell he already knew that, and life would go on.

For anyone who is thinking about becoming a Center volunteer, I’ll borrow a phrase from Nike and say: “Just do it!”  You’ll meet fantastic people and will get more out of it than what you put into it.

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Hometown: Buffalo, NY

Year Started Volunteering at Center: 2007

Volunteer Positions: Health Services; Pride Pantry; AIDS/LifeCycle; Youth Center

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