Andrea Coombes

We were so thrilled when Andrea contacted us about volunteering with the Economic Development Department.  She has been instrumental in helping us manage our workload, and brings a wealth of industry experience as a personal finance writer.  She is bright, curious, and genuinely interested in our mission and what we are doing.  Andrea is a pleasure to have in the office and we are so grateful that she chose to volunteer with us.”

Diana Freeburg

Financial Services Specialist

Center:  You are involved with our Economic Development program; what inspired you to volunteer with the Center? 

AC: I've been writing about personal finance for about 15 years, and I had been wondering how I could help others with regard to their money issues and concerns, partly because just about every time I tell people what I write about, they say, "Oh, I could use help with my finances!" When I happened to hear about the Center's Economic Development program, I knew that this was exactly the type of work I wanted to support, so I reached out to ask whether I could offer my time. I'm so happy the Economic Development team found a volunteer spot for me! So many of us have money issues and fears, and on top of that there are structural and broad based economic challenges faced by many in the LGBT community (that's something I've learned as a result of volunteering at the Center), yet there are ways to overcome these barriers. I'm really excited to help support a program that helps people move toward stronger economic footing.

Center:  How has volunteering at the Center challenged you personally?

AC: Volunteering at the Center has been amazing on a number of levels. First, it's just a very warm and welcoming place. Second, there is an amazing diversity of experience and life history among the Center's visitors and clients and staff, and I feel blessed to be able to participate, in a small way, in this community. Third, one of the big benefits to me personally has been to learn more about the LGBT community and some of the challenges faced by community members, and how I can do my best to support this community in a way that is respectful and sensitive. The "Respectful Engagement" workshop for volunteers was enormously helpful in this regard; it challenged me to think carefully about how I approach and communicate with all people.

Center:  Is there a memory that sticks out in the time that you’ve been volunteering with the Center?

AC: Most of my time volunteering here has been spent in the Economic Development staff offices, and every time I'm there I'm impressed again by the great work they're doing to improve the economic situation of their clients. For example, I recently took notes during a small-business advisory session here at the Center, where a number of business experts came in to listen to a small-business owner as she described her business and the challenges she's facing. There then ensued a 2-hour brainstorming discussion with these outside experts as well as Center staff channeling all of their years of experience into free advice for this business owner. That was rather awesome. Also, I recently volunteered at the Kickoff Mixer--the party that launched the Center's Economic Empowerment Week--and I just want to say: fun times!