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    Giving: It Feels So Good

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”

    —Maya Angelou

    Donate here, give to this, volunteer for that event: our inboxes are bombarded daily with requests for us to part with some green for a cause when we ourselves may also be in need. But what to give to? And how and what to give?

    Twenty-five years ago, soon after I moved to San Francisco, I was coming out of a challenging relationship and was consumed with doom and gloom and uncertainty. A friend, David, said to me quite bluntly, “Get over yourself and go and give time to a cause for others.”

    It was Thanksgiving and the place was St. Anthony’s. I volunteered as a greeter and table prepper for a Thanksgiving luncheon. For one precious day I was no longer in my head about my own stuff, worries, and woes. My personal upset shifted to gratitude that I had a home to go to later that day and a warm meal cooked with love by friends awaiting. I got the bug. I didn’t have any cash to spare for a donation, but I did have the precious commodity of time. It felt so good to share that gift.

    I have spent many other Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings over the years at other nonprofits serving others: Project Open Hand peeling potatoes, Meals on Wheels doing ride-alongs, or Glide serving meals. It’s a wonderful way to spend those mornings, and to be on the receiving end of that gratitude is quite something. It leaves a mark in your heart for sure. To those who have dedicated their lives to service and giving, thank you. Our homeless shelters, food kitchens, and nonprofits would not survive without you.

    Another nonprofit near and dear to me is the SF LGBTQ+ Center. One of my best friends, Tony Lee, donated to the capital campaign when the Center was built in 2002. His name adorns the Center walls along with hundreds of other big, giving hearts.

    “The LGBT Center is extraordinary,” Lee told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “My small donation came from empathy with their mission. When I was coming out in the U.K., many years ago, I would have welcomed such a safe space, with its kindness, acceptance, and community.”

    Danielle Siragusa, the Center Development Director, recently spoke with me about the importance of giving and about the upcoming April soirée.

    Liam P. Mayclem: Is the need for support greater this year?

    Danielle Siragusa: Yes, the need for support is especially great this year as many of our community members have been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic and rely on the Center for critical services like employment counseling, financial services, small business services, and connections to resources for food, housing, and legal advice. During these uncertain times, we have quickly and successfully pivoted, bringing many of our services online and doubling down on our mission to connect people to the resources they need. The Center has continued supporting those most in need, including unemployed LGBTQ+ jobseekers, youth in need of housing, and transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.

    Liam P. Mayclem: Does every dollar and every gift count?

    Danielle Siragusa: Yes, every single gift helps us reach our $200,000 goal and supports the Center’s vital programs and services. 

    Liam P. Mayclem: Why is it important to support the LGBT+ Center?

    Danielle Siragusa: The SF LGBT Center serves the entire spectrum of LGBTQ+ community members in San Francisco and the broader Bay Area. At a time when those who already face systemic discrimination—like Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community members and transgender and gender nonconforming individuals—are experiencing compounded challenges related to the pandemic, the Center’s services are more critical than ever before. Programs and services include Youth Services, Host Homes, Community Programs, Financial Services, and Employment Services.

    Liam P. Mayclem: When can we hope to have events again at the Center?

    Danielle Siragusa: We hope to host in-person events again once state and local officials determine it’s safe to gather again, which of course largely depends on the vaccine rollout. In the meantime, we are continuing to offer virtual events and plenty of ways to connect to community online. We can’t wait to see everyone in person at the Center when it’s safe to do so!

    Liam P. Mayclem: What can we expect at this year’s Soirée?

    Danielle Siragusa: This year’s Soirée will be a virtual event celebrating our community’s strength in the face of adversity, particularly for the most vulnerable among us—a theme which has hit home especially hard over the last year. Soirée is an opportunity to invest in the Center’s vital services, which help thousands of community members make it through the toughest of times. Soirée will welcome several hundred guests virtually to enjoy an evening filled with entertainment, an online silent auction, specialty food and beverage experiences, and a vibrant celebration of LGBTQ+ community.

    I will be part of the hosting team for the virtual Soirée alongside Juanita MORE! and Sister Roma. Please join us on April 10, 2021.

    To learn more about Soirée or to sign up to support, please visit

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information:

    Published on February 11, 2021