At Compass, our volunteers do so much - they are host committee members for special events, they offer behind the scenes assistance with mailings and cards, and many of them are the face of Compass each and every day, for everyone who walks through our doors.
One of our long-time volunteers is Wayne Lefkowitz, who not only has been a reliable and friendly face at the desk for over five years, but also gives of his time and talent as a professional photographer. Wayne was recently nominated as Volunteer of the Year in the Hats Off Nonprofit Awards presented by Nonprofits First, so we’d like to shine our spotlight on him this month.
Wayne first moved to Palm Beach County from his home in New York City in 1988. After years of struggling with confounding health issues, Wayne received a diagnosis, and began to feel better.
At that point, he knew he was ready to give back to the community in some way. He had often seen the Compass outreach team in the local gay bars, handing out condoms and talking to people about HIV. He was hearing a lot about the center and its good work in the community, and decided to see what he could do.
He still remembers the day he walked in and announced that he wanted to volunteer. He was met by Executive Director Julie Seaver, who gave him a tour and welcomed him so warmly, he left thinking to himself: “Wayne, you’re home.”
Ever since, he’s been welcoming others to the center with that same warmth. He tells the staff that he loves the immediate gratification of helping someone by sharing what Compass is about, or connecting them with a person who can help them right away.
But Wayne does more than man Compass’ front desk. Wayne is a fixture at nearly every Compass event, grabbing lively candid photos, creating group shots on the fly, and generally making sure Compass has great photographs to share with the world the work we do and the community members who are involved in that work.
He says it’s important to him, because the LGBTQ community is not only about bars and parades (though he LOVES working the Pride Parade!). As he says, we eat together, we meet and play together - in settings that are both happy and serious. His is an effort to “fully document our lives” for the world to see.
Wayne also brings people together himself, hosting a six-week photography class several times over the past year, right in the center. He charges nothing for students to participate. Since he began the Photo Club classes last summer, dozens of people have taken part in both the beginner class and his ongoing master class series, which is for those who’ve completed the beginner class.
Compass couldn’t have the impact we do in the community if it weren’t for volunteers like Wayne and so many others who give selflessly and creatively of themselves to the center and to the community.
If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Compass, please contact our center director, Ernie Gonzalez at