Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Volunteer's Perspective (NYC Pride 2014)

It definitely brings a huge smile to my face when I think about how The March and Heritage of Pride's membership and events have grown over the last decade. I was quite nostalgic last month thinking about my involvement with Heritage of Pride and all the events that happen throughout June - aka Pride month. I remember getting the Montclair High School's Gay Straight Alliance back to an active status taking on the president role and within the same year I got a huge turnout of students and friends to join me in The March (2006). Year later while at college I was active with their GSA of sorts, Spectrum. Fast forward to May of this year I was filling out a volunteer form and attending three separate training sessions for The Rally, Teaze, The March and Dance on the Pier - of which I was volunteering for ALL of them. Yep I'm crazy but I'm also a super proud ally of the LGBTQIA community :) especially with the increasingly A class list of entertainers and performances (this year Laverne Cox - Orange is the New Black, Demi Lovato, Susan Sarandon, and Johnathan Groff - Spring Awakening; Glee)

View of Pier 26 Saturday
Orange is the New Black represent - Thanks to Lavrene

Volunteers made this abstract masterpiece

Long story short, as much as I knew it would be an intense commitment, I honestly had NO IDEA! However, I did meet some awesome volunteers that since we've kept in touch via social media. Also it was a true learning experience for me both with the internal staff relationships, roles, and organization but also as a volunteer. I don't think its wise to push oneself beyond the minimum because let's be real here, its not like I'm getting paid for this gig. Secondly, I advise volunteers to value their time - its all you have and if an organization doesn't appreciate that (because they should, they should be giving you gratitude forever!) than what are you doing it for and with that, is it really worth it?

Of course there are those people that volunteer to get free access to the action. And of course there are people who are extremely rude and nasty to other volunteers and staff while on/off their "volunteer shifts". But we win some and lose some. The hope is that you are setting aside your valuable time for something you believe in and want to be a part of. Despite all of the things that went wrong throughout the weekend, I did have a memorable and fun time!

Fellow volunteers at check-in tent for The March

View from Fifth Avenue

Thanks Bret, Julian, Michelle, Elizabeth and everyone on the Heritage of Pride staff and all of the volunteers I met who could not have been more hospitable and friendly!