“Come meet new people! Come meet your neighbors!”: Q&A with TurnOut’s Local Cadre Volunteer, N
February 11, 2022
I’m 50 and I’ve been here in San Francisco, CA for the last 22 years.
Why is “giving back” important to you?
Part of it is I’m really interested in staying connected to the community. It takes me out of my normal everyday network. It helps to ground me more in the global experience of the queer community in the Bay Area in a way I don’t get much of a chance to. It’s a bit selfish in that way, in wanting to just be in spaces that I get to connect with people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet and get exposed to their lived experience to really highlight all the richness of what it means to be part of the community.
Tell us about your current volunteer experience
I am part of the volunteer team at TurnOut. I’ve volunteered most recently at the Golden Gate Business Association holiday party to support LGBTQ+ business owners. I’ve also volunteered with TurnOut at the Bearrison Street Fair, which was super fun. Bearrison Street Fair seeks to provide an inclusive community event for all members of the adult LGBTQ+ community. It promotes body positivity for all and builds a more supportive, welcoming, and inclusive bear scene by representing a diverse arena of cultures. 2021 was the Inaugural 11th Street Bearrison Street Fair, supported by the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Bears of San Francisco, two amazing nonprofits in San Francisco.
What drew you to this effort?
Honestly, it was geography and timing. To me there is no one event in the community that I would prioritize over another. It’s really about finding something that fit my schedule where I could join in. One was a weekend, one was an evening, and both close to my home. I have a lot of friends who are involved in communities I’m not usually in (businesses and bears) and getting to learn more about what’s happening.
What was volunteering like?
Both were really great experiences. Everyone was friendly and engaged and happy to be there and accessible. I’ve been volunteering and have fun at large scale events, so I am very familiar with the paradigm. I had a really good time.
What did you learn about yourself? Your community?
I learned that even in the pandemic, people are still present and very much willing to contribute.
What motivates you?
To me it is a natural element of being in a community. I am opting in to support efforts for creativity, or for collaboration, or for connection. I think it should be part of your lived experience – why wouldn’t you?
Can you share a story about someone or an issue you’re passionate about? How did this experience impact you?
I have had the opportunity to contribute to causes that I am super passionate about, which is trans Latinas. That’s my top thing. El/La Para Translatinas is an organization that works in a lot of Spanish speaking communities, which as a Puerto Rican I am super into. El/La works to build collective vision and action to promote translatinas’ survival and improve their quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. They help to make new pathways in a world that fears and hates transgender people, women, and immigrants.
I also care about various organizations that focus on voting rights, such as Fair Fight. They promote fair elections around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights. Fair Fight Action brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications.
Lastly, I am passionate about combating the isolation faced by unhoused people and admire the work of the Coalition on Homelessness. The Coalition on Homelessness organizes homeless people and frontline service providers to create permanent solutions to homelessness, while working to protect the human rights of those forced to remain on the streets.
What would you say to someone to get them to volunteer?
Come meet new people! Come meet your neighbors!
TurnOut uses a unique model to engage volunteers creating a tailored experience for a community that has been marginalized from traditional volunteer programming: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. TurnOut has been awarded as an Innovation Grantee since June 2021 to continue their work and expand into southern California. Visit TurnOut to learn more and get involved.
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