Although Michele jokes that as long as there’s tasty food and cold beers on hand, she’ll be there, I know that the work we do and the impact we have is a huge motivator for her to give so much of her time. I had a chance to talk to Michele Rider, our October Volunteer of the Month, about why she volunteers and here’s what she said:
Why do you volunteer with RTSF? I enjoy seeing all the other amazing volunteers – I’m routinely blown away by how generous everybody is with their time and resources. And of course, the smiles on the faces of the clients as their homes/facilities are transformed after a mere 6-8 hours is truly memorable.
What’s the most memorable story or experience with RTSF? For me, it was documenting the work done at the University Mound Ladies Home. Sitting and talking with many of the residents as they regaled me with stories was one of my favorite experiences. (Check out the photos from that project HERE )
Why RTSF? For me, it was the opportunity to photograph such a wide variety of people, places and activities that are happening in this wonderful City we call home. That and a friend/staff member is very enthusiastic about recruiting!
Would you recommend volunteering at RTSF to others? Absolutely, and I do all the time!
The Background: In 2009, I was just a naïve and overly enthusiastic Program Coordinator and when I first recruited Michele, I had just barely a year under my belt at this amazing new job. In fact, I was so enthusiastic that I was shameless about recruiting volunteers and often hunted them down from just about everywhere – the bar during happy hour, on the MUNI train, peoples’ weddings and from my new roommates pool of friends (as the case was with Michele). At the time, we were still doing this great work of repairing homes and facilities each April but only had a handful of actual photos and most of them were not very good. While an elevator spiel is important, just talking about our work doesn’t do it justice. What we really needed was compelling photos that really captured our work – the enthusiasm of volunteers, the joy of our homeowners and facility partners and examples of the work done.
Which is where Michele, of Light Rider Images, came in: her close friend was my roommate and both of them were impressive professional photographers, often spending many hours discussing the latest camera toys, techniques and scheming up new art projects. At some point over beers in our living room, I convinced Michele to be my volunteer photographer ‘guinea pig’ – I was determined to create a system where we could recruit and rely on 10-15 photographers each April to capture and submit compelling and beautiful pictures from all of our projects. The fact that we’ve been able to successfully do just that is a testament to Michele’s patience, thoughtfulness and dedication to our work. Not to mention she is both incredibly skilled and deeply passionate about her craft – Michele’s ability to capture our clients, volunteers and those moments consistently amazes me, as evidenced by the handful of some of my favorite photos here.
Since 2009, Michele has helped me fine tune everything around our photographer volunteers – how to recruit, what information to provide, how many projects to send them to and what sort of turnaround time works for best for photographers. Not only has she been pivotal in helping RTSF get to the point where we are now in engaging photographers, she hasn’t missed a single Rebuilding Day. Michele is always a joy to work with and her professionalism, amazing eye for the perfect picture and overall flexibility with our projects have always been greatly appreciate – it’s no small feat to be organize 20-50 projects and 1,200-1,400 volunteers, but her ability to roll with it has been a tremendous relief. Thank you so much for all your hours and support Michele – homemade tamales and cold Anchor Steam beers are always on us!
To see more of Michele’s work, check out her website here: www.lightriderimages.com
Or her Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Personal-Paparazzo-San-Francisco/142541937284