Deidra Bergmann knows what her community needs and works hard to provide it.
An out and proud lesbian, Bergmann says there are many endearing qualities to her gay and lesbian friends.
“We are very active people, proud people and educated people,” Bergmann said during a recent telephone interview with SFGN. “I’m proud LGBT people are moving towards a greater acceptance in the world and we should have equality.”
Bergmann met her lifetime partner, Jodi Greenwald, under unusual — and painful — circumstances. Bergmann fell off a 15-foot ladder, fractured her spine in several places and needed surgery. The ordeal got worse when, in the midst of physical therapy, Bergmann collapsed in the hospital and a code red respiratory failure was called, landing her in ICU for nine days.
That’s when Jodi, a nurse, came into Bergmann’s life.
“It was really romantic to get to know each other,” Bergmann recalls. “I was in a full body brace so there was no sex, which was great because we got to know each other and became friends first.”
In her retirement from a career as a general surgeon for Broward County, Bergmann continues a hearty lifestyle. In the fall of 2009 she founded WINgrlz, a championship softball team in the South Florida Sports Foundation League.
“Being a board member of Women in Network, I felt that forming a team was a good way to support our organization and provide a healthy activity and promote networking with other teams,” said Bergmann, who managed WINgrlz until her back injury sidelined her from the diamond in 2012.
But even injury cannot stop Bergmann from caring, as displayed in her recent participation as a motorcycle escort for the SMART ride, a cycling event through the Florida Keys which raises money for HIV /AIDS groups.
“Deidra is a force of nature,” said Kristofer Fegenbush, Pride Center Chief Operating Officer. Fegenbush gleefully recalls her level of commitment during the recent SMART ride, saying he still thinks of Bergmann “waving a flag — cheering on cyclist after cyclist by name, often with a humorous comment.”
Fegenbush, who works closely with Bergmann on many causes and projects, said her motorcycling is an apt way of describing her role in the South Florida LGBT community.
“She sits at the intersection of so many organizations, groups and events, invested deeply in relationships,” Fegenbush said.
Currently, Bergmann holds board positions at SunServe and the Pet Project while serving as a director for Women in Network, one of the oldest lesbian organizations in Florida.
A lover of pets, Bergmann has two cats and two dogs. The dogs, a Boston Terrier and a Boxer, are rescues. She also owns an Amazon Parrot. Pet Project, is a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance (food, vaccinations, etc.) for pets in low income households. Proceeds from Bergmann’s thrift shop, Hidden Treasure (2200 NW 9th Ave., Wilton Manors), go to fund Pet Project.
Bergmann admits to having a certain skill in raising money for charity.
“My favorite saying is ‘Please help me, help them,’” Bergmann says. “It is kind of my motto to help people. I have, with love, been called the Non-Profit Mafia. Usually when a business sees me coming for donations they just give it up to get me out of their establishment/business. They know I will win.”
Socially, when going out for fun on the island, Bergmann likes to frequent Rosie’s, 13Even and Rumors.
Because of Bergmann’s ongoing commitment to charity SFGN has named her the third recipient of its 2013 Achievement in Excellence awards. The other two named were Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Terry DeCarlo of the Broward House.