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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Carin Scheinin

This week's community profile is Carin Scheinin. Originally from San Jose, California, the 32-year-old has made San Diego her home since Nov. 2001. She loves singing and being a part of something that brings women and the community together through music.

Also an avid bicyclist, Scheinin is currently gearing up to participate in her second AIDS Life Cycle this June, and is happily taken.

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

San Diego Women’s Chorus (SDWC): I joined SDWC in 2002, after being in San Diego about a year. I was relatively new in town and fairly recently out of the closet. I missed singing and wanted a way to connect with the lesbian community and make connections here. In SDWC, I found an incredible group of women who truly became my family.

Our motto is “Come for the music, stay for the heart” and it’s such a true statement. SDWC is a loving group of women. I am who I am today because of my involvement in the chorus. I was on the board from 2003-2007 and again 2009-present.

I am currently the board president, which is a great deal of responsibility, but I love being a huge part of making this incredible organization thrive.

The chorus is celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this group. I love singing with them and I love sharing our voices with our audiences.

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC): I rode in my first ALC last summer in 2011 and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I didn’t take up cycling until I started considering doing AIDS/LifeCycle, so the idea of riding from San Francisco to LA was daunting to say the least. I still can’t exactly explain what drew me to ALC. It felt like a really big challenge, but if I’m honest, it looked like a lot of fun. It fell into the category of something I thought I would never ever do, but decided to do anyway.

My attachment and dedication to the cause started once I began training and after I started meeting the amazing people involved in the cause. I really became dedicated to raising money and awareness when I started learning the stories of people.

Being involved in ALC just feels like the right thing for me to do. There is so much humanity in this organization and in the people involved with it. Riding in ALC is like being a part of the most caring, giving, encouraging world. It’s the world we hope to have – except, of course, without HIV or AIDS.

Through my involvement in ALC, I met so many incredible people who have been living with HIV/AIDS for decades, who had just learned their positive status, who had lost lovers, partners, children, parents, people struggling and grieving and searching. I am proud and humbled to have met so many heroes through AIDS/LifeCycle and I'm inspired by them daily. It's such a testament to the human spirit that an amazing, positive, hopeful, beautiful community has emerged from such sadness, grief, pain and sorrow.

I am riding again this coming June and am also a Training Ride Leader this year, which means that I help organize and lead the training rides in San Diego and act as a mentor to new riders.

The thing I love that is true with both organizations is that they present opportunities to be a part of a team that cares about each other. Both bring people together who have similar interests and goals and helps them create something greater than themselves. I love that.

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

I love connecting with people, learning their stories, and finding a way to hopefully make things run a little better/smoother/easier. I think one thing that connects both organizations that I’m involved with, is that they have incredible heart and they foster collaborative work. They are both very rooted in spreading love and happiness.

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

Not because of work, though my work is in the administrative side of social services. I work for the Head Start program as a Management Analyst.

I work with a team that oversees eight Head Start sites and do program management and service delivery tracking. I work primarily with our social service staff on documenting the services they provide to children and families. I also monitor the program for compliance and provide technical assistance to staff.

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

I tend to be shy and kind of socially awkward in situations where I don’t know a lot of people (or don’t know people well). I have a hard time making decisions. I call my parents once a week. I love "Cake Wrecks." I like football and get very into games (that one seems to surprise a lot of people).

My girlfriend wanted me to mention that I have an amazing girlfriend -- it’s true, but everyone who has met her knows that. ;)

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

I’d like to see a stronger, more cohesive community, especially between the men and women in the LGBT community.

I’d also really like to see us become more inclusive of the transgender and bisexual communities. I think sometimes because the struggle has been so hard for members of our community, we can get a little self-focused. We’ve fought so long and hard for the rights of lesbian and gay men and women, but we can’t forget that we shouldn’t rest until all people have the right to live openly and proudly about who they are.

Certainly, I’d also like to see an end to HIV/AIDS and a continued reminder that it is still a risk – I think sometimes young people, especially, are immune to that idea and think AIDS is an epidemic of the past.

What do you like most about the local LGBT community?

We are lucky in San Diego to have a strong LGBT presence within the city. We have Hillcrest, which gives us a place that can be ours and offers a sense of safety. I also really love that we have LGBT and LGBT-allied representation in San Diego and from San Diego. We can see ourselves in our local and state government and know that our representatives have our interests in mind.

I also love our strong ally community. I think being involved with SDWC and AIDS/LifeCycle, as well as prior volunteer work with the No on 8 campaign, has allowed me to realize how many people are willing to step forward, be a part of something and take a stand for something that may not have to do with their personal identity, but that they feel strongly about. I’m constantly in awe of that.

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

Singing with the San Diego Women’s Chorus and cycling with AIDS/LifeCycle enriches my social life tremendously, so the amount of time I spend doing both is really enjoyable.

In addition to those, I love country dancing at Kickers, practicing yoga, going to dinner, coffee, or playing games with friends. When I’m not training, I still get together to go bike riding with friends. I love to travel and scuba dive (in warm water!). I keep myself pretty busy!

Carin blogged about her photoshoot (top right photo) for ALC. To read what the experience meant to her, click HERE.

Note: If you or someone you know should be featured in an upcoming community profile, e-mail Ben Cartwright at ben@sdgln.com.

Top left photo: The San Diego Women's Chorus. Middle left photo: Carin after a recent SDWC performance -- photo credit, Amber O'Grady / My Amor Photos.