TMI Project recently had the opportunity to interview Jeff Rindler, the executive director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center and 2019 TMI Project Agent of Change honoree about his life-changing experiences, his motivations, and what being an Agent of Change means to him. Jeff has spent the past 20 years dedicated to improving lives within the LGBTQ community. Read on for our Q & A with Jeff!
TMI PROJECT: What does being honored as a TMI Project Agent of Change mean to you?
JR: Bring honored by TMI Project is an acknowledgment of the great work we have achieved at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center under my leadership over the past three years. It’s an understanding by TMI Project that the work of the Center has meaning and impact in the LGBTQ and wider community. And most of all, it’s a real surprise! I do what I do because I love it and the LGBTQ community…and being honored for it, while a little embarrassing, also feels my heart with gratitude.
TMI PROJECT: What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work, the goals you hold personally?
JR: I’m motivated by the understanding that there is still a great need for support, education, socialization and stigma-busting in our community. In these absurd political times, I am motivated to continue to fight for our rights, and preserve the rights we fought for only a few years ago. My greatest goal is to make the world a little safer, happier, and joyous for everyone. That may sound hokey, but it’s the truth.
TMI PROJECT: Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell us about them.
JR: In the early 1980s, I was a dancer in Ballet Trocedaro in NYC. AIDS hit the company hard and we lost serval dancers, one of whom was a great friend. Because of my own personal challenges at that time, I was not able to be there for him and later felt deep regret. The following year I decided to change my career (I was running my dad’s office supply store in Ridgewood, Queens), and dedicate my life to helping those with HIVAIDS. I started to volunteer at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis as a receptionist and my first day they offered me a job (which was my secret hope). 20 years later, I was the agency’s COO. I had the privilege of helping thousands of clients, of creating new and innovative programs, and advocating on a city, state and federal level for those living with the virus. It was a time I will never forget. I will always remember those brave, loving and extraordinary people.
TMI PROJECT: What’s next for you in your work in our Hudson Valley community? What are you looking forward to?
JR: The LGBTQ Center recently launched the LGBTQ Well-Being Institute and we are now able to offer free short-term individual and group counseling. We have also been able to greatly expand our health and wellness programming so we can support the community in mind, body and spirit.
TMI PROJECT: Complete this sentence: One thing people can’t tell by looking at me is…
JR: I have over 75 vintage black and white panoramic group photos that line the back wall of my home.
We hope you’ll join us in honoring Jeff at this year’s Voices in Action Benefit & Storytelling Showcase, taking place at BSP Kingston on September 21st.