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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Meet LGBT ally and volunteer Melanie Laura Cabardo

Melanie Laura Cabardo, who prefers to be called "Mel," is an enthusiastic member of San Diego's LGBT community who considers herself to be an ally.

At 26 years old, she has spent most of her life in San Diego, although she was away for about three years on two occasions in Twin Falls, Idaho for cosmetology school and to help her parents run their business.

Mel says she is currently single, still looking for the right one, and enjoying learning about the LGBT community by working at a local bar and grill, and getting involved in community groups, including San Diego Remembers.

What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?

I’ve always been a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words. Though I haven’t volunteered much for any organizations yet, I am excited to start putting as much positivity out there as I can!

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

A lot of people think that they are only one person and can’t make a difference. I see it differently. All it takes is one person, and hopefully I can be someone who empowers others to make the choice to promote positive change.

Do you volunteer because of your work, or not? And what do you do for a career?

I want to volunteer because I’ve been fortunate enough to feel empowered through a positive attitude and wanting to help others. If I can make a positive difference for even one person, why wouldn’t I want to volunteer my time?

What is something that many people do not know about you?

I keep a notebook with me that I write things down in I want to remember. Usually it’s a quote, but sometimes it’s a funny one-liner I got from a friend during brunch!

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

More unity and empowerment. As accepting as the community is, sometimes there can be a sense of complacency. It would be great to see some more unity in empowering one another to be unique!

What do you like most about the local LGBT community?

What I love best is the zest for life! I firmly believe that if I only have one life to live, I should work hard and play harder. Something I’ve always thought is so great about the LGBT community is wanting to enjoy life and making the most of it every single day.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?

Cliché as it may sound, I laugh EVERY day. I surround myself with amazing people from the community who are warm-hearted, colorful and funny, because I honestly feel that my life is better because of it. Of course it probably helps that I work at Bourbon Street, one of San Diego’s most popular gay bars, but who’s counting?

If you could host a dinner party and invite three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Martin Luther King Jr., Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres.

I would love to meet Martin Luther King Jr. for so many reasons. He was brilliant, innovative, patient, strong, determined … he dealt with more in his lifetime than most men and women see today in theirs. The adversity he had to deal with, the heartache, the fight he had to endure … I couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of a person one would have to be do have dealt with that while influencing the world in such a positive way.

Laugh if you want, but I’d want to meet Lady Gaga not because she’s famous or because I love her music (those things would just be an added bonus), but because of how hard she works to empower people to not only be individuals, but to be damn proud of who they are. I was once told that to empower someone, you have to be willing to understand that sometimes they may fail. Maybe I don’t know her personally, but from everything I’ve seen, she has been an excellent advocate for understanding that everyone comes from different backgrounds and that no matter what that background may be, it is NEVER too late to be who you really are … and to be proud of it!

Ellen Degeneres is another individual who is obviously a big advocate for equal rights. She promotes equality in such a unique way and she’s FUNNY! She proves to people all over the world who look up to her every day that one person can make a difference these days … and she does it while making us laugh uncontrollably! Who wouldn’t want to meet someone like that?

If you or someone you know should be profiled on SDGLN, contact Ben Cartwright at ben@sdgln.com.