Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Despite Flooding, Volunteer Appreciation Party in Troy a Success!

Post by Transgender Rights Organizer Christopher Argyros

Last night, Sheilah Sable (Director of Upstate Organizing) and I had a great time with our fabulous Capital District volunteers at the Pride Agenda’s Volunteer Appreciation Party! We gathered at a restaurant in Troy called Bootlegger’s, right in the heart of Senator Roy McDonald’s district. Our volunteers are so dedicated that they came to the party despite breaking news that the Hudson was continuing to rise, flooding businesses along the banks, and closing bridges and businesses. Luckily, we stayed high and dry.

Many of the folks who came were our “veteran” volunteers. I am appreciative of all the hard work they put in over the past year, and especially thankful for the warm welcome I received in my first few months on the job. In talking with our volunteers, I was inspired by the various ways many have incorporated their advocacy into their lives at work, at church and in their neighborhoods. Often times this takes a good dose of courage and creativity.

In my first few months at the Pride Agenda, I have definitely learned what we mean when we say things like “We really count on our volunteers,” or “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.” How true it is! This summer, I tabled and organized many events, including Pride festivals, press conferences, rallies and various cultural events like the Glens Falls Artwalk and the Black and Latino Health Expo. All were successful and totally enjoyable because of our wonderful volunteers. We had to throw together a couple of events at the last minute, and in order to pull it off we needed our volunteers; they offered their connections to negotiate critical logistics, and then offered their spirit by showing up and participating.

The relationship between the Pride Agenda and our volunteers seems to be one of those rare connections in this world that is wholly voluntary with the possibility for a real win-win symbiosis. It is surely one to treasure. As an organizer, my goal is to ensure each volunteer is contributing effectively, using their skills, having fun, and also being empowered – by using their voice to engage others about a matter of equality. Hopefully it is a “win” for the volunteers; and the Pride Agenda “wins” by having successful events that advance our mission of LGBT equality and justice.

I left Bootlegger’s last night feeling deeply appreciative of our volunteers’ commitment to becoming stronger allies and advocates for the transgender community. Some of last night’s guests were marriage advocates primarily, who have learned about the dire need for transgender legal protections in New York State and are eager to continue the work for equality by becoming advocates for transgender rights. I look forward to helping others make this transition, so to speak...

Cheers and many thanks to all of our volunteers throughout the state! We look forward to another year of fierce advocacy, fun events and big successes in our movement for full equality. For more information and to learn more about the Transgender Rights Campaign, please be in touch: cargyros AT prideagenda DOT org.

In unity,

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