FSU and Sodexo volunteered at this year’s Worcester Pride, a three-day event which celebrated the Central Massachusetts LGBTQ+ community, according to a Sodexo press release.
According to James Donadio, dining retail manager at FSU Sodexo, the volunteers set up and broke down the festival space at the Worcester Common, which included checking in 50 vendors and setting up the performance stage and sound equipment. The event included a festival, block party and parade, and was held from Sept. 8-10.
Donadio said every June, which is national Pride month, Sodexo PRIDE members submit ideas for community outreach activities. Working with Worcester Pride was Donadio’s idea.
Last year, Donadio organized a group of Sodexo employees to march in the Boston Pride parade.
“I did not want to repeat the same event this year,” he said. “But when I reached out to many LGBTQ+ groups in the area … most of them were focused on Boston Pride.”
He added Worcester Pride holds its event in September to accommodate the colleges within the city. Sodexo agreed to sponsor the event even though it occurred in September instead of June.
“Working with them seemed like a great opportunity to have an impact on the Central Massachusetts community, specifically youth and young adults, as well as a means of connecting with everyone involved in diversity and inclusion here at FSU,” he said.
The group of volunteers was organized by Donadio and included Chon’tel Washington, director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence, and Kim Dexer, director of Equal Opportunity, Title IX and ADA Compliance.
Sodexo employees from Belmont Hill School, Health Alliance Hospital and Sodexo’s Healthcare Sales team participated as well.
Donadio said volunteering for Worcester Pride was “incredibly impactful,” especially in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting which occurred this past June.
“While June 2015 was a time for celebration after the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, June 2016 was a painful reminder of the hatred and discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community continues to face,” said Donadio.
He added, “As Worcester Pride occurred after the attack at Pulse, it was able to acknowledge the loss during a number of events, and it meant a lot to me personally to be a part of that.”
While Donadio is unsure whether Sodexo PRIDE will be involved with Worcester Pride next year, he said he will be attending Worcester Pride 2017 with friends and family. He hopes “ to have members of Sodexo and FSU communities there as well.”