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Ferndale Pride 2018 Welcomes Volunteer Help

By |2018-04-25T15:24:17-04:00April 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|

With Ferndale Pride 2018 just around the corner on June 2, festival organizers are still welcoming interested volunteers to help facilitate one of metro Detroit’s biggest LGBTQ+ celebrations of the year.
Preparations for Ferndale Pride 2018 began as early as a year ahead of time, with the festival’s core organizers working the past 10 months to schedule live entertainment, track and maintain the event budget, coordinate vendors and raise funds — among many other
necessary things. Organizers are now enlisting the help of volunteers to work the day of the event.
“We need people for set up, we really need people for tear-down and we need people
throughout the day as runners who can carry things to the main event,” Ferndale Pride Chair Julia Music said. “It could be as simple as running a paper to a vendor … so many people need to be accommodated.”
Music said that close to 100 volunteers are on the ground to help run the event every year, and that this year, the event’s footprint will be “dramatically” different than past years. That’s because the festival is zoned to run straight down 9 Mile from Woodward to Livernois road. And, volunteers will be needed to help accommodate both festival attendees as well the 41 extra vendors that are now afforded a space thanks to new layout.
Shawn Starkey, head coordinator of logistics for Ferndale Pride, said volunteers are especially needed during the early hours of the festival.
“At 5:45 a.m. we literally have volunteers using spray chalk and marking where different
vendors set up,” Starkey said. “They help set up tables, chairs and the tents. There are
also volunteers there to help vendors when they arrive, to show them where they are
and unload chairs.”
For those interested in helping out, the official Ferndale Pride website provides a complete list of volunteer opportunities needed on the day of the event. Examples include setting up and/or monitoring the children’s area, manning the check-in tables, collecting donations, assisting the DJ, guarding the barriers and providing general assistance as needed. Volunteers are also needed to photograph the event and monitor the festival’s “sober space.”
“Photography volunteers are a crew of volunteer professional and hobby photographers that help us record the entire event,” Music told BTL. “The sober space is a dedicated area for those in the sober community or those interested in becoming sober. There are games, literature and activities. Volunteers in that area engage participants and help make sure the area is running smoothly.”
Just as crucial as the day-of volunteer work are the promotional efforts leading up to the celebration. Greg Pawlica, finance coordinator with Ferndale Pride, said his team uses volunteers to spread the word online and in-person about the event.
“We ask people to distribute save-the-date cards to businesses,” Pawlica said. “In the next couple of weeks we’ll be distributing to bars and restaurants and commercial businesses, putting them on cash registers or desk areas where people pay their bills. We’ll also be putting up posters announcing it’s coming. A lot of times, we need volunteers for that – it’s hard for one person to go to all the businesses.”
Perhaps most important, however, is what individuals can do to support the festival financially, as Ferndale Pride organizers are known to give back a percentage of funds raised for the event to local nonprofit groups.
“When we first started, we wanted to make sure the event wasn’t just about spending the money the sponsors give to throw a party,” Pawlica said. “We always wanted to make sure there’s money leftover we could donate to local LGBT organizations to help them move forward.”
Residual donation money has grown year to year, Pawlica said. Ferndale Pride’s first outing in 2011 saw around $1,000 given back to local non-profits, while the 2017 celebration racked up $24,000. Pawlica is hoping to give back even more with Ferndale Pride 2018.
“Our goal this year is to raise $81,000, and we want to give back $26,000 or $27,000,” Pawlica said. “Everything is volunteer. All of us who work in co-chair positions or chairs of committee, we don’t get paid.’
The official Ferndale Pride website provides two options for donations: the “Rainbow Sponsorship” at $200 and the “Unicorn Sponsorship” at $50, $100, and/or $200. Perks for both packages can be found online.
Those looking to financially support this year’s festival are also encouraged to attend one of the several upcoming fundraisers being held across Ferndale. Other Ferndale businesses like Rosie O’ Grady’s, Rebel Health and Fitness and Otus Supply will also host Pride-related events in the coming weeks.
For more information on how to get involved with Ferndale Pride 2018, including a full schedule of volunteer meetings, visit

About the Author:

Drew Howard graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a B.S. in multimedia journalism. His work has been featured in Gazette Media, Forbes, LearnVest and NPR station WDET 101.9.
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