/ Community

After his partner died in the 1980s, James began volunteering. He’s been volunteering ever since.

I was there at Stonewall. I remember the tear gas and people running in every direction. It was scary and it was exciting – and I was proud to see my community fighting back. We were sick and tired of being treated like third-class citizens.
I started volunteering at God’s Love in 1987.
My lover had passed away, I was very depressed. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was working, but I was still very depressed. It was so hard for me to even get out of bed. A friend of mine told me about God’s Love. I thought I’d go work for them in honor of Donald.
I went and spoke to Ganga in her apartment, and Jane, the founders of God’s Love. They immediately put me to work delivering meals. This work was so meaningful, it gave me something wonderful to think about and to do. God’s Love rescued me from my deep depression and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.
During those days, there was no kitchen. Ganga would call restaurants and they would donate meals out of their kitchens. After work I’d go to the restaurant, pick up the meal, take it to the address that Ganga. I’d make maybe 3-4 deliveries at a time, 5 days a week. I did that for a couple years.
The restaurants were so generous, and there were so many all over the City that donated. Midtown, uptown, downtown, I’d go anywhere to deliver. The restaurant owners were so loving, compassionate, and caring and responsive to the AIDS crisis. They were so happy to give.
They said thank you for doing your work, gave me the meal in the takeout bag, I took it to the person. I was happy to make these deliveries, and take a little bit of time for each client to check in on them, see how they’re doing, and connect. I felt like I was giving back in a way in honor of the friends who took care of Donald and me while he was sick.
 I think about Donald every time I volunteer. I do this in his memory. I hope that my legacy is that I’ve served, that I’ve helped people.
I can hardly believe it’s been 50 years since Stonewall. I’m so proud to have been a part of this movement that has made us all feel equal. I’m proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community, and I’m so proud to be a volunteer at God’s Love.