Residential Loan Processor in Milwaukee
Organization: PrideFest Inc.
Volunteer Service: 10 years
How did you get involved?
My friend led the transportation team at PrideFest Milwaukee and asked if I could help serve as a driver. I enjoyed the experience and realized my involvement helped other people continue to enjoy the festival. That spurred me to get more involved at each annual festival. Through my involvement I discovered that I fit into one of the LGBTQ+ categories.
In which ways have you volunteered with them?
In addition to driving, I have also helped with security and the merchandise booth. This year, I was the assistant director of the transportation team. Planning begins in March, so we can coordinate the entertainer and vendor logistics including their flights into the city, transportation needs and times they’ll be onsite.
I have also helped engage Associated Bank and our Pride and Equality Colleague Resource Group (CRG) in the festival and community pride parade over the last few years.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
For me, it’s rewarding to see the increase in families that attend each year and acceptance of our community. For many, PrideFest is a safe space for people to be who they really are. Some may lack that courage or support in their everyday life. I enjoy being part of the festival and the growing ally community that can provide that to them.
Can you share a memorable experience as part of your community involvement?
All of my festivals are memorable, but the highlight for me was when I got to meet Trixie Mattel. She is one of my favorite artists in drag who is actually a local queen that made it big.
How do you feel volunteering has had an influence on you?
I didn’t know the way that I was could be defined in the rainbow and that was very eye opening. One year, I came across a display outlining the different LGBTQ+ flags and what each color represented. It was then that I realized one resonated with me and it sparked my interest to learn more.
What things have you learned about your community?
It has made me more aware of the LGBTQ+ community and where I can use my connections or leverage to help others. The Associated Bank Pride & Equality CRG has also been a great resource and partner. Through my involvement with them, I’ve connected with another colleague who identifies the same as me.
Why is it important to give back to the communities we serve?
I feel that it’s important to give back for the sole purpose of helping others in a tough space or needing confidence to be who they are. We may not think about them often, but they deserve a voice, too. Through my involvement, I can help be that support for others.
What advice would you give other colleagues looking to start volunteering?
Just go out and do it! If you’re not sure where to start, our colleague resource groups are a great resource. They can help connect you to their partner nonprofits and they organize events to make it easy to dip your toes in to see what you like.