If you’re a regular reader of our Community Stories, you’ll see that we frequently profile the many activists who participate in BRAKING AIDS® Ride. While we deeply appreciate rider and crew member; we get especially excited when our own staff dedicates their personal time and effort to fundraising, training, and eventually riding the 285 miles as part of the event. Heidi Tannenbaum, Bookstore Cafe Manager, is one staff member who is especially enthusiastic about the Ride, throwing happy hours at the Bookstore Cafe to raise awareness and funds for our mission. Read below about Heidi’s BRAKING AIDS® Ride experience, and why she’s back for her second ride.
Housing Works: How did you become involved with Housing Works?
Heidi Tannenbaum: I’m a reader and had frequented the bookstore over the years. When I moved back to New York in 2012 from New Zealand, I signed up to volunteer and dropped off my resume, hoping I might get lucky. And I did! I’ve been working at the bookstore for over two years now.
HW: What is your favorite event at the bookstore?
HT: That is a really tough one, we do so many different kinds of things! On Wednesday mornings at 10:30 am I get to pretend to work while I’m really listening to Amy and Jo doing Kids Storytime and Sing-a-long. As for grown-up-ish events? We’ve had Punderdome here a couple times and are having it here again on August 19th, I’m really excited for that. Also Literary Speed Dating is a really fun concept, especially because we have weddings here. (Seeing the bookstore transformed for weddings is incredible! The Works does an amazing job!)
HW: You rode the ride last year, what made you decide to do it again?
HT: Plain and simple, I loved the ride. It’s a beautiful route, an inspiring group of people, an unbelievable challenge, and also the most pampered I get all year! I can’t oversell the crew—-they are amazing, and are there every step of the way to make sure the riders are feeling good in body and soul. I loved the whole experience, and once my body recovered I knew I would sign up again.
HW: Do you have any tips on fundraising or training to share with other riders and potential riders?
HT: Start early! For both! I get people constantly asking me “Did you do that ride yet?” because I’ve been doing long rides and hitting them up for money starting as early as March! But it’s not stressful if you’re doing it gradually. Also, involve your community! I’m lucky in that I have the support of bookstore staff, volunteers and customers—I’ve got a donation box by the register and we’ve thrown a couple happy hours to help raise money.
HW: What does the BRAKING AIDS® Ride mean to you?
HT: Well It definitely gives new meaning to “No pain, no gain”. When you’ve got 200 miles behind you and another 100 to go and every part of you hurts, there’s plenty of time to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. The ride means more to me than I ever could have anticipated. It’s activism on wheels. It’s community. It’s pushing my physical limits beyond where I thought they could go. It’s honoring those who are no longer here. It’s believing in the real potential for change. And it’s being spoiled rotten by the crew!