“I love to volunteer, and as a way to honor the memory of my uncle, I connected to The Center as a crew member for Cycle for the Cause: The Northeast AIDS Ride. On my own, it took a very long time to be comfortable with who I am—and by finding a community with the people at The Center, I felt like I belonged. The acceptance and the love from everyone involved in Cycle is something that I don’t take for granted, and I’m honored to be a small part of this community.
Throughout the pandemic, being socially distanced from my chosen family at The Center was really hard. After Cycle for the Cause 2020 was canceled, I participated in the virtual 275 Challenge that was adapted from the ride, because it was still very important for me to support the cause. And this year, as soon as I learned The Center was hosting a one-day in-person Cycle outdoor event, I started crying. I was so grateful to see everybody’s faces again and to say “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve missed you. We’re okay. We’re safe.” It felt like the weight of last year lifted for just those few hours we were all back together again.
The Center is so important for so many people. There are folks who are not safe where they’ve had to quarantine—and who may have reached out to The Center needing support, interaction, and comfort to know they are loved. Everyone that walks through the doors of The Center is family, no questions asked. I am so excited to come back to the building, I’d offer to open the door for anyone who stops by!”