Moving from Madison to La Crosse, I was worried. Madison is a big city with a large LGBT community. I always felt comfortable being myself. Having lived in smaller cities before, I felt like I would have to keep certain parts of my life a secret. I didn’t want that.
As the time came closer to open the restaurant I moved here for and hire my staff, my boss and friend came to me and said, “Hey, your store is next to an LGBT center.” I got so excited! When I made my first trip to La Crosse to post ‘Now Hiring’ signs, I made sure one of my next stops was to The Center, where I met a future employee. When the store opened, I got to know several people who are involved with The Center. They became my favorite regulars!
I became good friends with one of my employees who is very involved with The Center and I started going to The Center more and more. Every time I went in, everyone who was there was always so nice and welcoming. I loved seeing people who were so willing to volunteer their time to ensure that The Center was open for the community. I learned more and more about all of the different things that The Center did for the community. It was awesome and I wanted to help! I started by joining the Outreach committee. They were in the process of planning PRIDE. Even though this is a very stressful thing to do, Alesha (the committee chair) kept the meetings laid back, yet productive. I was able to walk around downtown and see if businesses were willing to run discounts in association with our PRIDE button. I was amazed at how many businesses were willing to help us out, even ones that I thought wouldn’t have thought would be wo willing. Then when PRIDE happened, it was so much fun and awesome to see so many supporters and allies.
I have also been able to staff a table at an event we set up at Soberfest and Globe University. It was an awesome way to educate the community on everything that The Center has to offer.
The main reason I’m so willing to volunteer and help is because I feel welcome and included. I don’t feel like an outsider. Everyone associated with The Center is so nice and appreciative of everything you are willing to do, even if you aren’t able to do a lot. I feel lucky to have been able to get to know everyone at The Center and be able to help with whatever I can.