At Pridelines, we rely on volunteers to help us in all aspects of our work. From answering the phones and greeting guests as they visit our community centers to preparing meals, sorting donations, providing holistic therapies and mental health counseling, and facilitating groups, we could not do it without the dedicated people who donate their time to us each year. For this blog post we asked Ken Demsey, Pridelines’ Volunteer Coordinator, to share his experience volunteering with the agency.
Ken began volunteering with Pridelines on June 25, 2016---just three weeks after we first opened the doors to our new community center. “I was retired and wanted to keep myself busy. After attending a volunteer orientation and learning about everything Pridelines does, I decided to volunteer. I have been here for three years now.” Ken expressed that when he was growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he did not have a community center like Pridelines. He finds it “amazing” to see the youth who come here feel safe enough to be able to express themselves freely.
As one of our many dedicated volunteers, Ken is at the Center at least three or four days each week. According to him, he has made Pridelines a part of his family. He describes his experience as an “amazing journey” because every day presents him with a new opportunity to do something different.
“I started at the front desk and have worked in every department. I have helped the Youth Department with CampOUT, Prom, and many other social events. I have also volunteered with health services, the Pridelines Masquerade Gala, and the SMART Ride.”
While Ken brings his enthusiasm for volunteering to everything he does, it is clear that his biggest passion is food service. “One of my favorite assignments is volunteering in the kitchen. I like to help create healthy meals for the youth and other guests who come to the Center. When I was growing up, my grandmother made sure my friends and I ate. She had this philosophy that everyone should have a plate of food and no one should be hungry. I carried that throughout my life. I see people who need food, I feed them.”
This love for feeding people is evident in how well Ken coordinates his largest project—the annual Pridelines Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Food Drive. The dinner, now in its fourth year, attracts between 150 and 180 guests each November. Through the Food Donation Drive, now in its third year, we distribute 35 boxes filled with enough items to provide a Thanksgiving meal for a household of four. The boxes have either a turkey or ham along with ingredients to make side dishes, and for vegetarians we put enough items in the box to create vegetarian meals. “At Thanksgiving, we’re giving back to the community and inviting the community at large to come in and have a Thanksgiving style meal that maybe they would not be able to have. I love helping, and doing this dinner is one of the best things I can do to help out.”
We are always looking for new volunteers, like Ken, to help us throughout the year. “Anybody who has the time to volunteer, even if you just come for an hour or two, try it out. The experience is a lifetime of happiness.” If you are interested in volunteering at Pridelines, please email Ken at email@example.com.