People to Watch: Candace DiGirolamo

From the 08/03/2011 edition

Those yellow and blue bumper stickers with equal signs that you've seen on cars around town are the beginning of an important conversation.

Candace DiGirolamo, co-chairwoman of Membership and Community Events for the local branch of Human Rights Campaign, is used to having people ask her questions about the decals and about gay rights. Human Rights Campaign, which makes the stickers, is the largest civil rights organization in the country working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

"The way I look at it is, every conversation matters," DiGirolamo said. "HRC had a great sticker that said 'Every word is a step,' and I really believe that."

DiGirolamo organizes outreach efforts and events for the group - explaining to potential volunteers how they can help, keeping track of merchandise such as T-shirts (she jokingly referred to part of her home as "the HRC store"), training volunteers how to explain HRC's mission, and planning events that attract both gay and straight crowds. On top of that, she's also a member of HRC's national Board of Governors.

"For me, the whole movement of equality is very personal," she explained. "So why not host an event, get people engaged, have a good time and then also raise money at the same time?"

When she's not working at Verizon Wireless, she's usually donating her time to the cause.

"It's like a second job: before work, after work, weekends," she said.

She helps new volunteers discover how they can get involved in ways that are rewarding for them, encouraging them to take part in lobbying efforts, speak with politicians or simply work the door at an event. People can invest as much or as little time as they want in the organization.

"We've got a lot of work to do, so there's always room for more hands on deck," she said.