14 posts categorized "Volunteering"

July 7, 2015

Finding Fathers in Surprising Places

This essay was originally posted on June 17, 2015, in Nylon Magazine's My World, My Words series. Special thanks to the author, Rae Angelo Tutera, for letting us republish it on our blog.

I had a friend named Lee, who was sweet. The world can be perfect in some ways, so Lee's last name was actually Sweet. We were matched through SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) by a woman who deemed us, very correctly, compatible: You're both collectors, she noted.
 
 
I was an archivist who fantasized about moving into my then-girlfriend's (now fiancée's) brownstone and collecting beautiful things together, and Lee was a retired graphic designer who already had a brownstone full—damn full—of beautiful things, the most exquisite things. I believe he was born discerning: As a boy he asked his dad for a Chippendale for his birthday; I think he was given a baseball mitt instead.

My own grandpa, who raised me, passed away when I was 25. Joining SAGE as a friendly visitor was something I did with very specific tenderness, and an awareness that I might end up having my feelings hurt—I didn't want to lose anyone again. But my desire to connect with someone from my Pop's generation, especially someone like Lee—someone who was critical but sensitive, an introvert whose sudden, cutting wit reminded me of Flannery O'Connor, a gentleman in his 80s who had been in the Army during World War II, who was incidentally gay—eclipsed my anxiety. And all I had to do to meet him and spend time with him was hop on the G train.

When Lee became sick suddenly, I started visiting him in the hospital instead of at his brownstone. I was having a late twenty-something crisis—what did I really want to do? I was becoming a Jack of all trades and what I really wanted was to do one meaningful thing. I said to Lee, "You're old and you're wise." This made him laugh. I continued, "What do you think I should do?"

At the time, he couldn't speak. Remembering this pains me, but also I smile when I think about the fact that Lee and I had become intimate enough for me to compress his tongue to help him strengthen it so he could start speaking again. He wrote down his answer to my existential question, telling me I should go back to the frog pond because I was happy then. 

When I was a kid, my grandpa and I would go "frog hunting" together at the pond down the road. We would roll up in the middle of the night and Pop would shine his bright police light (he was the retired chief of Scarsdale) at the pond and we waded into the water together, bravely disregarding the snapping turtles that were big enough for me to catch a (terrifying) moonlit ride on. I was seldom seen without a bullfrog in those days, or without a net attached to the end of a broomstick, duct taped to another broomstick, voyaging out into the water. Call me Ishmael.

It's no surprise that I told Lee about the frog pond, since it's single-handedly my favorite thing to remember from my childhood. But I couldn't believe that his answer to my question was to conjure this memory, and at first I felt grief that I couldn't go back to the pond, and that I couldn't be with Pop anymore. But I realized that my grandfather had taught me to be patient, get dirty, respect nature, use my body as a tool, to make weird jokes, to love—a love big enough that it included (and includes) tadpoles.

And I realized that as much as I wished to go back in time and be with him again and to learn those things again, what I wanted more than that was to keep moving forward toward a future where I would teach those things to my own child.

My aunt once gave my grandparents (her parents) tiny tapes to record the stories of their lives on. If I remember correctly, my Gram passed on this; she's always been a living, moving thing—like a shark—who, while poised and charismatic is, not at all narcissistic and not at all the type to slow down to record any of her pithy or sentimental remarks. My Pop, though, recorded things like this: "If ever you want to attain immortality, have a little of your better self rub off on a child, for a child is the father of man and he is an image of yourself."
 
The nostalgia I have around frog hunting persists. But Lee gave me a new lens on my beloved childhood memory: I began to see it from my grandfather's perspective in addition to my own. It was a paradigm shift. Over the past weekend, I was up by a lake, the lake my fiancée learned to swim in. It is a fine lake where the gulping sounds of bullfrogs can be heard coming from both the grass and the water. I took off my shirt, and crept along the edge of the lake, until I took off my socks and boots and walked in. I don't mean to brag, but I still have it: I caught a frog with my bare hands, and walked the big guy over to my fiancée to show her while grinning so hard my face hurt. I am 30 now —I'm, as I always joke, the oldest I've ever been. And I've learned I have the capacity to channel my former, frog-hunting self, and my former, frog-hunting dad.
 
Dedicated to the memory of Theodore Tutera and Lee Sweet.
April 24, 2015

Honoring Our Volunteers: Jarret and Brian

Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? In honor of our wonderful volunteers, SAGE will be asking a few of them some questions about what they do for our members!  For the past few Fridays in April, we featured a number of extraordinary volunteers. Today, we would like to honor two long-time volunteers Jarret and Brian. They have both been with our Friendly Volunteer program since 2008 and 2009, respectively. Learn why they volunteer below!

Friendly Visitor: Jarret Wolfman

Bills2
Fred and his Friendly Visitor, Jarret

How long have you volunteered at SAGE?
I had to have someone check the records, but I met Fred and Stephen at a Friendly Visitor picnic in October of 2008 -- so I’m going on seven years now!

What do you do as a Friendly Visitor?
During orientation we're instructed to let our friends at home kind of lead the way. Some people want to watch TV with their Friendly Visitor or play cards or go for a walk. It just depends on what they like to do. My guys love to just sit around and talk. So for the most part I just sit there and listen. Sometimes we go for dinner or I go to church functions with them (pancake Tuesdays have become an annual tradition), we go to book fairs and the garden party. I also help Fred organize his apartment and I help him with his computer. My husband and I even had them over for Thanksgiving one year!

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
Oy, that's a hard one. I’m not really good at saying good things about myself. I would say that one thing that I think is helpful as a Friendly Visitor is my ability to empathize. Sometimes that can be a detriment, but in this case it's useful because as a Friendly Visitor you really have to be sensitive to your friend at home's needs, wants, moods, eccentricities, etc. While great friendships can develop over time (I've come to love Fred and Stephen as if they were part of my family - I call them my gay grandpas), we as volunteers are primarily there to be of service to our friends at home.

How does being a Friendly Visitor make you feel?
This is actually the first time I've volunteered for anything in my life. I had thought about it for a while but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do and I kind of felt guilty that there was a part of me that wanted to volunteer because I thought it might make me feel better about myself. Luckily, someone convinced me that there were worse things than "selfishly" volunteering. At least (hopefully) I would be giving back as much as I was getting. And I have to say that there is nothing I've ever done that has made me feel more fulfilled in my life.

What has been your best experience as a Friendly Visitor so far?
I would have to say that it's a toss-up between being a part of their wedding a couple months after it finally became legal in New York state and their 50th anniversary (of meeting) dinner party in 2013. Both were really special experiences.

Bills
Fred & Stephen Celebrating!


Would you recommend others being a Friendly Volunteer?
Of course! I’m always telling people to join up! It’s not always easy but it's extremely rewarding.

Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to talk a little bit about Fred and Stephen. Normally, Friendly Visitors are paired with a single friend at home. I mean, that's kind of the point of the program. To provide LGBT seniors that may have trouble getting out to a SAGE Center or other opportunities to socialize, with some companionship. So when I was matched with Fred I wasn't really expecting to end up with two friends at home. While Stephen isn't "officially" a part of the Friendly Visitors program, he and Fred have basically become a package deal and I can't imagine it any other way. Although inevitably one of them will die before the other and that's something we've talked about. I’ve always thought that I was pretty lucky because both of them are healthy and I haven't had to deal with some of the more difficult issues that many other Friendly Visitors have had to deal with regarding their friends at home. Knowing that I’ll be around to help one of my gay grandpas deal with the loss of the other is both scary and comforting. I just felt like you needed to know a little about them to really appreciate what it is that I do. Cause in the end, it's not really about me, it’s about them.

Friendly Visitor: Brian Donnelly

Brian and Mort and MarleneHow long have you volunteered at SAGE?
Michele D'Amato matched me with Mort Silk in August of 2009, soon after my Friendly Visitor training.

What do you do as a Friendly Visitor?I've been visiting Mort once a week since that August of 2009! I mostly sit and talk with Mort about current events in the news, my work, issues in education (he was a teacher and assistant principal), happenings in our lives, theater experiences, and our pasts - family, friends, schooling, pivotal experiences in our lives, etc. 

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
My greatest strength? I try to be a good listener, and I try not to share my day-to-day frustrations at work and in my personal life or bring it into our space/time together. There are times when I may share some personal struggle I am experiencing, but I do that to seek advice. Mort's a very good listener and has enormous reserves of empathy. I think that being consistent and reliable in my visits is another strength. My colleagues at work, my partner, family members, and friends know of my commitment to my regular time with Mort, so I so very rarely need to reschedule a visit with him. When I travel out of town, I try to call and send a fun postcard. 

How does being a Friendly Visitor make you feel?
Being a Friendly Visitor reminds me that I have the capacity to make room in my busy life to commit to something important on a regular basis. I feel good about that. Oftentimes, I know my time with Mort is the most important 3 hours of my week - again, for me, maybe sometimes for him. I'm no longer a volunteer because we're simply friends at his point.

What has been your best experience as a Friendly Visitor so far?
I can't pinpoint my best experience so far, but I get a kick out of him asking me to reread a passage from an article, like a theater review in the Times. He enjoys words, the way that people use words to express something interesting, funny, or profound. He'll re-experience a passage, in the way a child returns to the line of a roller-coaster after experiencing a thrilling ride. I love that smile on his face when he hears that passage again. Simple joys.

Would you recommend others being a Friendly Volunteer?
I certainly recommend this experience to others. I am still learning and growing as a result of my relationship with my 93-year old friend, Mort.

Are you interested in being a Friendly Visitor? Contact Matilde Busana for more information at mbusana@sageusa.org.

April 17, 2015

Honoring Our Volunteers: Kyla Knight

Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? In honor of our extraordinary volunteers, SAGE will be asking a few of them some questions about what they do for our members!  Visit the blog on Fridays throughout the month of April for their stories.

Ginger SprinklersThis week’s highlight features a special interview with Kyla Knight from New York Life Insurance. Kyla has been volunteering with SAGE since 2013 and comes from our corporate volunteer program.

Hi Kyla. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about your volunteering at SAGE!
It’s my pleasure! Firstly, Let me just say, I love SAGE.  I think it is so important to have our community age with equitable resources, community and dignity.  SAGE is taking tangible strides to making that a reality and whatever small part I can make to support SAGE’s staff is the least I can do. 

We are so glad to hear that! When did you first volunteer at SAGE? 
I went to my first volunteer information session in July of 2013.  At first, I was paired up with the HR Director two times a week from 9-11 am for several months to help out with some extra work. I then wanted to help out with actual events and constituents and in 2014, I was able to organize two events for SAGE through the help of many people kind people and organizations. 

What events were those?
The first event was with DL21C on expanding LGBT services in the outer boroughs.  Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-Central Bronx) and Deputy Executive Director & CFO of SAGE, Tracy Welsh, spoke about the importance of LGBT senior services and how the expanded funds to SAGE from the City Council will be used. I am so proud that there are now SAGE Centers in the Bronx, Harlem, Staten Island and Brooklyn!

The second event was facilitated through the extreme generosity of my co-workers at New York Life Insurance.  Individual employees signed up to donate over 200 gifts and we hosted a Holiday Gift Drive Dinner at SAGE Center Midtown.  We ended the night with singing a karaoke song… Just Like a Prayer and everyone had a great time.

That sounds amazing! And you sound busy! Are you able to volunteer often?
I wish I could volunteer more, but I normally organize an event or two a month.

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
My greatest strength is that I’m a very stubborn person! This dedication to my passions helps me show up and at the end of the day, showing up is all that really matters!  We don’t have to be perfect, or the best—but everyone has tremendous value to bring to the table.  Even if I don’t know how to do one particular task, I am certain someone I know does!  I have met so many new friends and have been taught many new skill sets along the way through work and volunteering. For that, I am very grateful. My hope is to try to highlight the work of amazing people who bring about positivity and courage for more of our community to start to feel included. 

How does volunteering make you feel?
Volunteering makes me feel at home.  Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my mom in a hair salon in Lavender Heights (Sacramento’s ‘gayborhood’).  It was so much fun telling stories, joking around and seeing people have makeovers, looking pretty and expressing their true gender identities! This was a huge influence in shaping my dream to move to New York as a queer activist, because I saw the importance of organizing events, rallies and showing up for our community. 

What have your experiences been like at SAGE?
SAGE gives me “the why.”  SAGE gives me a tangible vehicle in which to focus my passion for our community.  I am so grateful to stand upon the shoulders and the sacrifice and work of many LGBT+ sheros and heroes.  I am so proud of the amazing stories SAGE members have and every time I go to the SAGE Center I have had SO much fun! 

Brigadier General Tammy Smith, the first openly lesbian of the U.S. Army Reserve, said, “Never underestimate your ability to give others hope.” SAGE gives so many hope and dignity and I feel very lucky to be included.

So when is the next time you come back to volunteer?
I am very excited to volunteer Sunday April 26, 2015 for the next Women’s Spring Dance!  I am happy that a handful of coworkers agreed to help out as well!

That dance is amazing! Glad you and your coworkers are going. Is there anything else you would like to share?​
During a lazy Sunday afternoon I took my 11-year old woofderful pooch, Ginger, to the Lesbian Herstory Archives.  By accident, I found SAGE’s box upstairs and pored over various documents.  I completely lost track of time nerding out on organizational charts and event flyers!  SAGE took me in under her wing and helped me to verify many of my interests, strengths and passions.  I am now enrolled go to Baruch College for my MBA in Organizational Design and HR Management in the fall semester.  I hope to help the effort to reach economic parity within the queer community regardless of gender identity, race, class or sexual orientation.   

Volunteering with SAGE has given me back so much more than I can really explain and I know that many people I’ve met along the way feel the same about their experience with SAGE.  The fun part is that every volunteers experience is different and this solidarity helps to make SAGE so special. THANK YOU SAGE!

Wow. Thank you Kyla! It was so much fun to interview you and I look forward to hearing about your future volunteer activities at SAGE.
No, thank you!

April 10, 2015

Honoring Our Volunteers: Jeff and Tess

Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? In honor of our extraordinary volunteers, SAGE will be asking a few of them some questions about what they do for our members!  Visit the blog on Fridays throughout the month of April for their stories.

Corporate Volunteer: Jeff Kern from BlackRock


Intranet Photo_Jeffrey KernWhen did you volunteer at SAGE? What did you do?
I have volunteered quite a few times at SAGE. Last year, I helped serve a holiday meal on Christmas. The LGBT Employee Network at BlackRock  has also partnered with SAGE to speak about retirement readiness for LGBT adults. This past fall, one of our HR professionals and I hosted a "Turbocharging your Career Search" -- a chat about job searching and how to better position yourself for success for the SAGEWorks program.

Do you volunteer often?
I try to volunteer as much as I can. I love getting involved in the community. When I was in college, several organizations made a huge impact on me. They showed me that I could be an authentic LGBT leader in business. I want to pay it forward and contribute to equality, globally, and ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect on a very basic level. 

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
I am really organized. To make a big impact, it’s crucial to be organized. In my opinion, organized people can accomplish more.  

How does volunteering make you feel?
It all comes back around to paying it forward. I do it because it is the right thing to do and it is good for everyone. 

What was your experience like at SAGE?
The SAGE Center Midtown is incredible. Just chatting with people there, looking at the different opportunities, it’s clear how diverse and engaged the LGBT community is. SAGE does a great job of facilitating the connections, resources and support needed for the community to thrive.

Would you come back to volunteer?
I definitely plan on it!

To learn more about our Corporate Volunteer program, please contact Elise Colomer at ecolomer@sageusa.org


Friendly Visitor Volunteer: Tess Thompson

Teresa ThompsonHow long have you volunteered at SAGE?
I connected with SAGE in the Fall of 2011. After meeting with the Friendly Visiting staff and going through some basic orientation, I met my friend-at-home for the first time in December of that year. I'm amazed to realize it has been almost three and a half years - on one hand, our friendship has developed so much during this time, but on the other hand I haven't noticed the months passing by so fast!

What do you do as a Friendly Visitor?
Every Tuesday evening I go over to my friend-at-home's apartment, and we chat, hang out, feed his cat, maybe watch a show on Netflix. Pretty much we spend a couple of hours doing what I would normally do when visiting any friend's home. My friend-at-home is housebound and therefore somewhat isolated, so I provide companionship and the knowledge that there is someone there who cares. We also chat via email a couple of times a month, sometimes he will send me a recipe or I will send him the trailer for a movie I think he would like.

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
I think my greatest strength as a volunteer is my ability to listen to people and see things from their perspective. In all friendships sometimes people disagree or don't see things eye to eye, but if you can understand where each other is coming from then you can have compassion for each other instead of conflict.

How does being a Friendly Visitor make you feel?
I feel lucky to be a Friendly Visitor because I have expanded my community to include my wonderful friend-at-home. My life is enriched by his companionship, wisdom, and the laughter we share together.

What has been your best experience so far?
I'm not sure I can pick just one! It's special to celebrate with my friend-at-home near the holidays. Spending that time together always reminds me that community and caring for each other is what's really valuable in life.

Would you recommend others being a Friendly Volunteer? Why or why not?
I would definitely recommend considering becoming a Friendly Volunteer. We all need to connect more with each other - this experience is so meaningful not only for the friend-at-home, but also for the volunteer.

Anything else you would like to share?
Thanks SAGE, and keep up the good work!

To learn more about our Friendly Visitor program, please contact Matilde Busana at mbusana@sageusa.org

April 3, 2015

National Volunteer Month: Honoring Our Volunteers

Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? In honor of our extraordinary volunteers, SAGE will be asking a few of them some questions about what they do for our members!  Visit the blog on Fridays throughout the month of April for their stories.

Friendly Visitor Volunteer: Stacey Britt Fitzgerald

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.04.44 PM
Jerre & Stacey

How long have you volunteered at SAGE?
I've been volunteering with Jerre, my 97-year-old superhuman friend, for the last 6 years! I honestly forget that I'm a "volunteer"--Jerre is like family at this point. 

What do you do as a Friendly Visitor?
I hang out with Jerre for an hour or so every week. Our activities have evolved over the years. In the beginning my visits were on Sunday afternoons so we would sit and chat and go on walks in the neighborhood. Now our schedule is to meet on Wednesday evenings, so we usually eat dinner together, do some stuff on the computer, and mostly just make each other laugh.

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
Probably sense of humor. Being able to make fun of each other has connected us across a 65-year age difference.

How does being a Friendly Visitor make you feel?
I honestly feel so lucky that I've been able to build a relationship with someone who's experienced so much and has shared such amazing stories with me.

What has been your best experience so far?
Oh gosh, there's so many. Maybe the time I horrified Jerre by bringing enormous 9 and 6 balloons to a restaurant for her 96th birthday. Or the time she taught me to play Scrabble only to be appalled by my (lack of) skills. Or the time we journeyed to the Brooklyn Museum to see the HIDE/SEEK exhibit. But definitely the most meaningful was when Jerre told me that she thought SAGE did a pretty good job matching us up together. I agree.

Awww, that is so sweet! Would you recommend others being a Friendly Volunteer? Why or why not?
A resounding yes! These seniors are the warriors who came before us! They fought the good fight and they deserve our respect and service. And maybe a younger person who lives to embarrass them.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
I'm so grateful to SAGE for providing crucial services for our LGBT elders.

We are so grateful to you and others who do such great work! Thank you!

Corporate Volunteer: Alyssa Nieves from Barclays SPECTRUM Network

Barclays Night at The SAGE Center
Barclays SPECTRUM Network at SAGE

When did you volunteer at SAGE?
Last week! March 30th, to be exact.

What did you do?
I served dinner to SAGE members. This was quite an experience as I never worked as a hostess/waitress. I moved around the room and mingled with the members while they were having dinner. Engaged in some wonderful conversation and met wonderful extraordinary people.

Do you volunteer often?
Yes, I often volunteer. I believe in making a difference and giving back. Each time I volunteer at any event I learn so much from people. I feel so blessed and honored and the only way for me to give back is to volunteer and let people know that strangers do care and people do matter. One can make a difference.

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you volunteer?
Hmmm, this one is difficult to answer. I get my strength from others. I learn and I try to give back. This may sound silly but recently I learned how to make a rose with a pen/pencil and duck tape. I then took this learning skill and showed it at one of my other volunteer events. So I take and give back. If ever I get invited to a SAGE activities arts/craft event I can show them how to make roses too!

How does volunteering make you feel?
Oh my so blessed and rewarding. If I can make someone happy or do something good for someone this makes it all worthwhile. If I make a difference then I served my purpose. When I was serving dinner at SAGE so many people were thankful. I received some great hugs and words of gratitude, that alone is worth it!

What was your experience like at SAGE?
The SAGE team members welcomed us with open arms. The staff and members were so excited that we were there for them and expressed their appreciation. I even got invited to the SAGE Talent Show in April 30, 2015, which I plan on attending!

Would you come back to volunteer?
Most definitely!

 

 

April 25, 2014

Recognizing Our Volunteers: Emilia Tamburri

Did you know that volunteering is good for your health? A fun fact for April being National Volunteer Appreciation Month! As part of our recogniztion of SAGE volunteers, we asked Friendly Visitor volunteer Emilia Tamburri, a few questions about her experience at SAGE. Interested in volunteering? Visit us on the web for info on our many opportunities!

Emilia
Emilia in Friendly Visitor action.


Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer because of the rewarding feeling I have after shifts. There is nothing quite like it.

What makes volunteering at SAGE special or different?

SAGE has a wonderful community of volunteers and staff - all admirable and dedicated people. I enjoy working both with older adults and the LGBT population. I also appreciate the lifelong reciprocal friendship with the woman I volunteer for.

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

Roughly four and a half years.

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

The woman I volunteer for is an accomplished poet. I attended a poetry reading of hers and she surprised me with a poem about me entitled Friendly Visitor.  It is a witty and touching poem and I was deeply moved and proud to be her friend.

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

December 5, 2013

A BIG Thank You to our Volunteers

Today is International Volunteer Day and we would love to recognize all of the amazing work our volunteers do for SAGE. The United Nations started this international observance back in 1985 and this year's focus is "Young. Global. Active." While the U.N. recognizes the contributions of all volunteers, they are paying special tribute to youth volunteers. We want to celebrate ALL of our volunteers, young and old, because SAGE volunteers run the gamut.

From our recent Thanksgiving event, where our volunteers spent the day with us, instead of with their own family and friends, to our Friendly Visitors, who make the lives of homebound LGBT seniors a bit easier, to those leading our karaoke nights, our volunteers fulfill a crucial part of our mission -- to improve the lives of LGBT older adults. 

Volunteers are truly the backbone of SAGE. Without them, we would not be able to offer the breadth of services and programs at our main SAGE office and our SAGENet affiliates across the country! We appreciate everything our volunteers do and if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, be sure to check out the options on our site.

You can also read why Mark Galvez volunteers at SAGE, view some pictures of our volunteers in action this Thanksgiving or watch our video below celebrating our Friendly Visitors!

 

October 25, 2013

The 2013 SAGE Awards & Gala

On October 21, 2013, SAGE staff, board, supporters and constitutents gathered at Gotham Hall in NYC to celebrate another year of providing services and advocacy to LGBT older adults. We all extend a heartfelt thank you and congratulations to the honorees and supporters of the 18th Annual SAGE Awards & Gala.  With your support, we were able to exceed our fundraising goal of $500,000! Our honorees included the amazing Roberta Kaplan, Jay Lesiger, Chris Kann and Jewish Home Lifecare for all of the work they do on behalf of our LGBT older adult population.

August 14, 2013

Overcoming Barriers While Looking for Work

Howard.leifmanToday's guest post is written by Dr. Howard Leifman.  Dr. Leifman is a NYS licensed psychotherapist and career coach.  He works with individuals and corporations to assist them better themselves and their organizations.  He has been a SAGE Volunteer since 1990.  He regularly runs workshops for SAGEWorks.

Looking for work has never been easy! Somehow when we were younger, it did seem easier, but the truth is, it never was easy.  We just either cared less or didn’t seem to be aware of as much as we do now. 

The challenge is we look at ourselves and see more doubt, more possible rejections and sadly more barriers! As a therapist and professional coach I work with individuals of all ages work through these barriers, both the real and the perceived ones.

I make this distinction because yes there are some very real barriers to finding work but then there are also some barriers that we put up ourselves. I’ll share some of the most common ones I hear and how I work with people to do something about them.

1. I’m too old!

My response is too old for what? If you believe you are too old to do the job and bring that thinking into the interview then guess what, your interviewer isn’t going to try and challenge you on it.  If you don’t believe you can do the job, it is not the responsibility of the interviewer to persuade you otherwise.

One of the biggest changes I try and get clients to make is go into an interview with your strengths showing not waving a banner of your weaknesses! Once again, I am not going to say this is easy, only be careful not to sabotage yourself before you get started! 

Some of the ways to overcome this is to think about the requirements of the job that are stated in the job description.  Think about experiences you have had in the past that are similar and that you have been successful at.  Think about examples you can share with the interviewer that demonstrates where and how you have done this and what the outcomes were. Be ready to share a story that has a beginning, middle and end!  A short story not a novel! Have a point of view and come to it quickly.

2. They’re never going to hire me!

With thinking like this you are correct!  We call this the self fulfilling prophecy.  If you go into the interview already defeated there isn’t much place to go. If you go into the interview saying, I can do this, I have done this and they would be lucky to have me then you have a shot.  Don’t be cocky just confident. 

Again, here is your opportunity to share where and how you have done something like this or similar to this.  Here is your opportunity to share with them how you made a difference. 

3. There are so many people to choose from, why would they choose me?

Granted there are a lot of people, of all ages, to choose from. However, because you are more mature than many, you can bring more experience, more knowledge and more understanding to the job than many, you might also be better than most! But you have to believe it.

4. So much has changed in technology I can never learn!

The truth is learning how to go from a typewriter to a computer was more of a change than going from one format to another! While there are a number of new programs and technological skills out there, the basics still remain. Still nervous? Take a computer class or visit YouTube for a wealth of how-to tutorials and brush up on your skills.

The real key to overcoming barriers is trying, learning and practicing! If you aren’t willing to try, it won’t happen; if you are not open to learning new things, it won’t happen; and if you don’t practice it, you take your chances that it won’t be successful. 

I’m not saying it is easy, but then again, what is.  What I am saying is I see people succeeding everyday so I know it is doable!!  This is also where SAGE is so helpful.  They have the people and the resources to help you TRY, LEARN and PRACTICE!        

So I leave you today with this one thought.  Have you tried, learned and practiced something new today?  If not, contact SAGE and let them share with you how you can!