#TogetherWeCan Volunteer

By Lavender June 11, 2015

Categories: Family & Friends, Our Lives

By Amy Ongaro

Honoring Two Brilliant and Benevolent Twin Cities Pride Volunteers

Eric Zimmerman. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Pride

Eric Zimmerman. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Pride

Eric Zimmerman

How did you start volunteering with Pride?
Eric Zimmerman: I’ve been involved with Pride since 1999. Bill Nienaber, a good friend, coworker, and also the PR director of Pride at the time, was the one who got me involved. I was newly out at the time so it was a great way to get to know the community and contribute to a good cause. I started attending the meetings with staff and board members and in 2001 I signed on as full-time volunteer helping with IT, computer, and other tech support for Pride. Being involved with Pride continues to be meaningful to me because it’s a way for me to help my community within my expertise and what I enjoy doing.

What’s your current role with Pride?
EZ: 
I am the festival IT manager. During the festival, our team is manning the operations area and ensuring everything is running smoothly.

What are your most memorable moments of Pride from over the years?
EZ: 
There used to be mass commitment ceremonies at the main stage before the concerts started — my favorite part of the festival. I’d ask someone on the IT team to cover for me so I’d be able to watch. Another memory from the earlier years was when I was up in the trees running a line through for the Internet from the main park building on 15th street in preparation for the festival!

What other activities or hobbies are you involved with?
EZ: 
I consider myself an environmentalist, as an active voter and volunteer in local environmental causes and initiatives. I love bicycling, hiking, camping, and just hanging out outside. I’ve also gotten into nature photography recently.

What would you tell someone else who was thinking about volunteering with Pride?
EZ: 
Some people are intimidated when it comes to volunteering because it’s outside of their comfort level and they aren’t sure what they can contribute. Every person has something to contribute. While I started with my technology expertise, I’ve contributed my voice to many other areas. To get started, think about what skill sets you have now and know you’ll be offering that plus more to a community that would greatly benefit from your help!

An inspirational quote that guides you?
EZ: 
This quote has been poignant for many situations in my life. It will all work out in the end. “It will all find its way in time.” – Tori Amos

 

Karen Broman. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Pride

Karen Broman. Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Pride

Karen Broman

How did you start volunteering for Pride?
Karen Broman: At the time, I was in a relationship with a woman and not completely comfortable sharing that fact with people. I thought volunteering with Twin Cities Pride might afford me a nonjudgmental setting where I could talk about my relationship openly. I was correct about that, but in hindsight, I needn’t have worried about being honest with my friends and family, either; they have been wonderfully supportive. This is my 10th season volunteering with Twin Cities Pride.

What’s your current role with the Pride staff?
KB: 
I am currently involved as a consultant for the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade, after serving as the parade coordinator for seven years. Although I have scaled back my official year-round duties the past two seasons, I cannot resist the frenzy and anticipation on the morning of a parade, so you can always find me involved during Pride weekend as well.

What’s your personal Pride story?
KB: 
In 2006, I volunteered for the Pride Block Party held at Bryant-Lake Bowl, as a safety and security volunteer, and in a somewhat nebulous role at the parade. During the parade, I found myself serving as a sort of personal assistant to Dan Mendez, then-parade director. After the event, he asked if I’d like to be involved in a more formal way, and I was so flattered, blissfully unaware of just how much work I was signing up for, that I happily accepted. Over the following years, my work with Twin Cities Pride has given me the space to continue learning about myself while surrounded by a diverse group of accepting individuals. Through my involvement, I’ve gained a tremendous number of capable mentors and dear friends I may have otherwise never met.

What does volunteerism mean to you personally?
KB: 
My job as a forensic scientist is important work, but also fraught with stress, serious situations, and potentially life-altering consequences. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to use my natural talents and abilities in a (usually) less-harried environment. It is also a great way to network and become informed about parts of our community that I don’t interface with on a regular basis. Whenever I’ve thought I might be interested in something or needed to learn more, volunteering for a related event or organization has always let me peek behind the curtain, so to speak, and find out what that thing is really about. Plus, giving back is just good karma, in my opinion.

What would you tell someone else who was thinking about volunteering with Pride?
KB: 
First and foremost, we’re a pretty wacky group of people, so prepare to laugh often. Second, everyone involved with Twin Cities Pride is on a personal journey that probably intersects with yours in some fashion, so no need to worry about judgment here. We encourage all involved to be their authentic selves; our diversity makes us better. Third, having volunteer work — especially, but not limited to, year-round positions — on a resume is always a bonus in life. Last, but not least, the weather in late June can be kind of crazy.

An inspirational quote that guides you?
KB: 
“I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and the desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E.B. White

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