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April 17, 2014

Recognizing Our Volunteers: Bob Rizzo

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and SAGE would like to recognize our many volunteers for all that they do. From our Friendly Visitor program to our Cyber Center and Drop-In room hosts, our volunteer-led programs and people serving meals, we could not perform all of our work without them! 

BobRizzoThis week, we asked Bob Rizzo from our Friendly Visitor program a few questions about his experience. Read his responses below:

Why do you volunteer?

In general, I volunteer to connect with and give back to my community, and hopefully make it a better place. To me volunteering is a two-way street. It's not just doing something for someone less fortunate than myself, but more of an exchange. 

What makes volunteering at SAGE special or different?

Last year when I was investigating where I could volunteer my time, a good friend of mine (who worked at SAGE as a social worker) thought I'd be a good candidate for their friendly visitor program. I had no idea this program existed and was immediately drawn to the fact that it dealt with the aging LGBT community. What a wonderful opportunity to visit and befriend someone who may not otherwise have a social or support system in place. One of the remarkable things about the SAGE friendly visitor program is their meticulous process of matching up compatible, like-minded individuals.

How long have you been volunteering at SAGE? Or in general?

I've been with SAGE since June 2013, though I've volunteered for other organizations such as Gods Love We Deliver and GMHC over the past 20 years.

Do you have a specific memory of a volunteer experience that you would like to share?

Absolutely! My SAGE "friend at home" Kurt, is eighty five years old, partially disabled, and a former Broadway performer. The facility where he lives has an acting class that he takes once a week. About a month ago he invited me to a "performance" of his acting class, where he would be the master of ceremonies. Naturally, I said that I would love to go. The following week when i walked into the community room for the show, there was Kurt sitting center stage, complete with a tux shirt, bow tie, and top hat. There were fifteen elderly women seated in a semi-circle around him, all dressed in roaring twenties outfits. It was a sight to behold. He said that he was so happy I came, and to please sit in the front row so I wouldn't miss anything. The music then started, and as Kurt began to speak and introduce the play, the weak and physically impaired man I'd known for the past four months, literally transformed into his former, younger self. He sat up erect in his chair, his diction was loud and clear, he played off his costars, and he knew exactly how to hold for a laugh. Needless to say, Kurt was obviously a very talented performer in his day. It was hard to hold back the tears as I took photos throughout the performance, and it's a memory I will always cherish.

Kurtandbob

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