April, 2011 / Author: admin

We’re all familiar with that strange and pitiful creature called a volunteer. You know who they are. They are awkward, unattractive loners. They have no lives. They can’t get a date on Saturday night or any other night of the week. If one were ever to sidle up to you at a party, you’d quickly find a good reason to be somewhere else. We’d all be better off if they never left the confines of their mean little apartments.


Well, actually no. Outwords wanted to take stock this month of the value of volunteers to the queer community. We asked ourselves: What would the queer world be like without volunteers? Would we notice a difference? The answer is a resounding Yes, we would notice a huge difference.

Volunteers touch so many facets of our lives in ways we probably never realize. They organize the annual Pride week events and the big parade. Without them we wouldn’t have most of the clubs or any of the dances and special occasions through out the year. 

Volunteers at the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg and its sister organizations across the country have been instrumental in helping people of all ages come out of the closet for years. They continue to work hard to battle homophobia in schools and other institutions. 

Without LAMBDA, queers wouldn’t have a helping hand starting and running their businesses. There would be no Reel Pride festival each year. There would be no Rainbow Curling League or Out There Sports. This magazine wouldn’t exist … and the list goes on.

There are more volunteers than we could ever count. And far from being a bunch of sad-sacks, they are vibrant, creative people who universally love a challenge and are exceedingly dedicated to building a vibrant community. 

We bring you a tiny fraction of the organizations supported by volunteers. They are some of the better known organizations, and we want to salute them and the work they do. You will find a more complete list of the various groups that rely on volunteers at the back of the magazine. Every one of them deserves our praise.


By the numbers:
phone: (204) 474-0212     
Address: 170 Scott St. Winnipeg, MB
e-mail: info@rainbowresourcecentre.org
web: www.rainbowresourcecentre.org

What does it do?

The Rainbow Resource Centre is a not-for-profit community organization that provides support and resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, intersex, queer, questioning and ally (LGBTT*) Individuals, communities and families in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.

How many volunteers work with it?

Active and ongoing: 24
Board members: 11
Fall supper 2010 volunteers: 80+

What do volunteers do?

Board of directors: The Rainbow Resource Centre is governed by an elected board of directors who actively oversee the direction and functioning of the centre’s programs. Directors generally serve for two years.

Centre ambassadors provide visitors with friendly, non-judgmental, and informative assistance

Drop-In counsellors provide judgment-free support to individuals, couples, and families on the intricacies of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Event volunteers are recruited and specifically training for yearly events. Events may include RRC’s Pride events and activities, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the Fall Supper.

Library support volunteers help the librarian maintain the daily operation of the library. For information about the Library, visit: www.rainbowresourcecentre.org/library.html.

Peer support line volunteers provide peer support and information to a wide variety of callers. 

Workshop facilitators share their skills, talents, experience and knowledge in an interactive way with LGBTT* individuals. 

The next volunteer training session takes place May 10 to June 28 on Tuesday evenings from 6-9 p.m. For more information about volunteering, phone 474-0212 or e-mail info@rainbowresourcecentre.org.

What do the volunteers mean for the centre?

As the executive director, my connection to the RRC began as a social work student.  When I completed my training, I stayed on as a volunteer.  I know the incredible rewards that I have experienced here as a volunteer, from talking to kids in Thompson and Flin Flon on the peer support line, to running groups for the community, participating in drop-in counselling, and being involved with the board.  Now, as staff and the director, I have the privilege to work with folks that are committed to making our community better, safer, stronger, and healthier.  Volunteers at the centre are a committed group of folks, passionate about who they are and our community.  I thank them for the work they do and the difference they are making and hope their experiences volunteering are as rewarding for them as they were for me.

– Chad Smith, executive director

The volunteers of Rainbow Resource Centre are truly invaluable. Each volunteer shares their experience, knowledge, and desire of continuous learning and growth. Our team of volunteers and staff strive to achieve a society in which diverse sexual and gender identities, orientations and expressions are included, valued and celebrated. Our combined compassion, courage, and dedication cultivate an energy and an environment in which we can actively promote and maintain dignity, human freedoms and human rights for all. 

– Rune Breckon, RRC programming co-ordinator

What volunteering means to one woman?

As a married woman who came out in adulthood (at 39), I was required to re-establish nearly my entire life. As I am not one to spend a lot of time at the bar or participate in sporting events, volunteering has provided me a safe, positive place to be an active LGBTTQA* community member. It has also given me some structure and support in building my new life. And my previous work experience allowed me to share my skills and abilities for the benefit of the centre. I have been fortunate to work with Rune and a few other awesome library-committee members/volunteers. The best part is we have lots of laughs while we work. We share a love of books, the LGBTTQA* community, and RRC’s library. We are committed to making the library user friendly and appealing to the community. 

– Angela Bailly, RRC librarian


By the numbers:
Mailing address: PO BO 2101 Station Main, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3R4
Phone: 222-6880
E-mail: volunteer@pridewinnipeg.com

What does it do?

It produce the Pride Winnipeg Festival each year in June. This includes the rainbow flag raising at city hall, and a Pride day complete with a rally, parade, festival, and dance party. The festival features a main stage, kids zone, beer tent, LAMBDA business fair, vendors, and more. There is also 10 days of Pride week festivities that are driven by volunteers and organizations within the LGBTTQ* community.

How many volunteers work for it?

About 100


What do volunteers do?

The entire Pride committee is made up of volunteers. Others help with marketing and Pride Guide distribution, parade marshalling, stage crew, grounds crew, beer tent, and Dance Party.

What do the volunteers mean to the Pride Committee?

Our volunteers step up to be part of the biggest and best LGBTTQ* event between Vancouver and Toronto. Pride of the Prairies volunteers are well known for getting involved in community events and celebrating Pride while being immersed in the movement of Pride Day.

– Barb Burkowski, chair, Pride Winnipeg


By the numbers:
Address: 155 Smith St., Winnipeg, MB.
Phone: 786-1236
E-mail: gios@gios.ca

What does it do?

Gio’s Club and Bar is the only community-based, non-profit GLBTT** organization in Manitoba. It is a place to socialize and feel safe and accepted, a meeting space for community organizations, a showcase for local talent, a dance nightclub, and a genuine centre for diversity of ages, orientations, interests, and tastes. Now approaching its 30th year of continuous operation, Gio’s is one of the longest running clubs of its kind in North America.

How many volunteers work for it?

Nine board members
About 25 from the community

What do volunteers do?

The board of directors sets policy and oversees the operation of Gio’s Club and Bar. The community volunteers do all the things needed to operate the bar.

What do the volunteers mean to Gio’s?

Throughout its long history, Gio’s Club and Bar has inspired countless volunteers. Volunteers work with paid staff to plan and hold events, to fundraise, and to ensure that the Club continues to be a fun, welcoming place. Gio’s Club and Bar highly values its volunteers. Often working quietly behind the scenes for  days and often weeks, these volunteers are a significant part of the reason that Gio’s has been the ‘heart of the community’ for nearly three decades. Mr. & Ms. Gio’s are also part of our volunteer team. They may officially be our ceremonial representatives, but these two have worked tirelessly to entertain the community, while simultaneously raising thousands of dollars. We are often awe-struck by the dedication of all who work to make Gio’s fun and inviting.”

– Jay Rich, president of the board


By the numbers:
Mailing address: Box 1575, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 2Z2
Phone: 944-0354
E-mail: info@lambdabiz.com

What does it do?

LAMBDA is the GLBT chamber of commerce in Manitoba. It provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs and professionals to network and promote their businesses.

How many volunteers work for it?


What do volunteers do?

Run the organization, set up Pride Mart, design and produce a GLBT travel guide for the Province of Manitoba, host monthly mixers.

What do the volunteers mean to LAMBDA?


– Greg Hamilton

To comment on this or any other article in Outwords, write to letters@outwords.ca

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