Gay Desert Guide’s Woman Crush Wednesday for April 7, 2021 is Gay For Good Executive Director, Anne Friedman. Anne chatted with Gay Desert Guide’s Jeff Denean Jones this week for our Woman Crush interview.
GDG: You are Gay For Good’s Executive Director and the lead champion for good. Gay For Good sounds great. For those out there who are not yet familiar, what is Gay For Good’s mission? And, where can we find a Gay For Good champion in our community?
ANNE: Gay For Good (G4G) is a nonprofit that provides training and resources to diverse community leaders who create meaningful opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQ+) volunteers to connect with the broader community through volunteerism. We have 17 regional chapters across 12 states and connect with nonprofits (mostly non-LGBTQ) to increase LGBTQ visibility, build bridges, and foster inclusion with a unique “boots on the ground approach” to uniting neighbors though volunteerism.
There is no cost to join G4G and volunteers can sign up on our website, gayforgood.org, to learn about volunteer events in their region. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Folks in the Coachella Valley can visit our website to join the Palm Springs chapter, or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/G4GPalmSprings
GDG: How did you get involved with G4G initially?
ANNE: I was looking for ways to connect with the queer community when I came out (later in life) and I stumbled upon G4G on social media. I attended my first volunteer event in Los Angeles in 2010, and was immediately hooked. I became a local chapter leader, shortly after was invited to join the board of directors, and today I have the honor of being G4G’s first employee working alongside our board of directors to support our 70+ regional chapter leaders.
GDG: Why did you leave your corporate career to be the Executive Director of G4G? And, was it an easy decision for you?
ANNE: Prior to my role at G4G, I worked at a community foundation for 5 years. In January of 2018, the 19 year-old gay son of a friend was murdered in an act of hate, and that day changed me forever. This event was the catalyst to me quitting my job, putting together a plan for scaling G4G, stepping of the board, and into the role of Executive Director to expand on the mission of G4G’s founders. It was a scary, and risky, decision to leave behind a well-paid position with great benefits and a 401k, to run a nonprofit with a small start-up budget, but I haven’t looked back since. Today we are 17 chapters strong, and growing, and I am inspired daily by the acts of kindness and service I see carried out by my G4G volunteer family.
GDG: In terms of G4G calls to action, are there moments you can share with us when you were like, yes! this is working?
ANNE: Yes. There are countless stories of G4G volunteers starting a project alongside other volunteers who appear closed minded or unwelcoming of our group, giving way to team work, collaboration, open interest, and open minds. I hear stories of volunteers who are isolated in their daily lives driving hours to spend a morning connecting with other queer people in a welcoming and healthy space, or who volunteer with us to find community and make friends in the face of family rejection.
GDG: How has G4G impacted the world? What impact do you know G4G can have?
ANNE: G4G has a twelve-year proven track record of building bridges, using volunteering as a non-partisan vehicle to bring people together. We’ve held 1300+ service projects in support of over 530 different nonprofits and the impact of our work is widespread.
In a typical month, G4G volunteers can be found filling care packages for veterans, singing with seniors, sorting clothes for job seekers, planting trees alongside a scout troop, beautifying a neighborhood school with students and parents, distributing food at a church, wrapping holiday gifts at a teen center, delivering meals to people with HIV/AIDS and other medical illnesses, cleaning parks and beaches with neighborhood groups, serving meals at shelters, assisting special Olympics athletes and the list goes on.
G4G volunteers serve as a critical resource for nonprofits who rely on volunteers to operate, saving them the cost of hiring paid labor, and to date G4G has donated more than $1.6M of volunteer time.
GDG: Considering the amount of change the world has gone through due to the pandemic as well as social and political unrest, looking forward, what words of encouragement might you share with folks throughout our community?
ANNE: Find moments of joy where you can. Be kind to others, our planet, and yourself.
GDG: When you are at an event, or a volunteer group activity, or in a restaurant or retail store, and a song starts to play that you absolutely love, what do you do? Do you dance, sing, ignore it, or quietly smile inside?
ANNE: I am a closeted singer (think in the car, alone at home) But, if a popular line dance song comes on and my fellow line dance friends are around – look out cause it’s time for an impromptu dance party!
We cannot wait to have a dance party with you, Anne. Thanks for taking some time to share with us more about you!