Volunteer of the Year - Chris Milazzo

In 2011, I was emerging from a dark time in my life.  I had been battling depression for a long time, and I was also coming out as gay during that time.  So, it just seemed almost serendipitous that Easton Mountain came into my life at that time.

Many first timers like to get their feet wet by volunteering.  I didn’t just get my feet wet – I plunged.  My first visit was in September 2011.  The retreat that weekend was a celebration of the autumn equinox, which was done through a sweat lodge ceremony.  As wonderful as it was for me, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to come back.

In mid-2012, I had begun to research Tantra. As luck would have it, Easton had advertised a Tantra weekend.  Having seen the serendipity of the moment and an opportunity for me to expand my horizons, I immediately registered for the event.  Not only did that retreat ignite my study of Tantra, it also forged my long and amazing relationship with Easton Mountain.

Over the next two years, I attended many more retreats, but I had never volunteered.  In 2014, I decided that it was time for me to give back to a community that had given me, and continues to give me, so much.  Nowadays, as a seasoned Easton volunteer, I can say with certainty that volunteering is a great way for first-time visitors to get their feet wet and to get to know the community.  Depending on the retreat, you can also interact with the guests, many of whom are also long-time members of the Easton community.

Every time I come back to volunteer, I feel that I am doing my part to help keep Easton alive.  I remind people that Easton is mostly a volunteer-run organization, so volunteers are vital to its very existence.  Volunteers perform many tasks, including prepping meals in the kitchen, keeping the lodge clean, doing laundry, and, depending on the weather, working on the land itself.  No task is too big or too small.

People have asked me what I get out of volunteering at Easton, and why I volunteer.  The one word that seems to stick out is “gratitude”.  I’m grateful for all that Easton has given me, so I have a strong desire to give back.  There is also a desire to help create a safe space in which people can do any deep work that they need to do, are volunteers are very much in the background helping to create that safe space.

Easton Mountain has changed my life in so many ways, and I feel honored to be a part of such an amazing community of queer people.