Our volunteer, Laura, became our first Condomino when we commemorated World AIDS Day at Palomar College on November 30.
Hi Laura! What do you do when you’re not Condomino?
I’ve been a nurse for seven years and I work in an ER. But I’m thinking about going to law school next — maybe specializing in criminal law.
Why are you a nurse?
I like helping people. Nursing is hands-on. Doctors are so smart but they’re mostly big-picture thinkers. Nurses are more “bedside.” What I’ll miss is laying hands on people and helping them. You learn a lot by seeing people at their most vulnerable, often on the worst day of their lives. You really have to adjust your attitude.
Nurses get into nursing because you know you have a purpose. It is your job description. You help someone every day. You can leave your work there, too. And there are definitely personality traits associated with different types of nurses, too! ER nurses like the fast pace, adrenalin, triage. It’s ever-changing.
Where are you from, and when did you start volunteering?
I moved here from Maryland. I started volunteering with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest last January. I also volunteer at Generate Hope [an anti-human trafficking organization].
Why Planned Parenthood?
It’s the organization that has the most resources to do the most good for the most people. With its future — THE future — in jeopardy, I wanted to use my time to make sure Planned Parenthood can continue. I’ve had friends who’ve used the services and I want to make sure everyone can continue to do so.
How did you get to be Condomino?
Planned Parenthood sent out an email that they needed volunteers to hand out condoms during a 2-hour shift at Palomar College — including one to wear a condom costume! I replied the next day, worried that someone would already have taken it, but no one had. They asked me about my height, and I downplayed it because I really wanted to do it! [Volunteers should be around 5’7” or shorter to play Condomino.]
Why do you like being Condomino?
In costume, I can take off my nurse’s hat for my own values. Patients have all different values, of course. Actually, it felt like Halloween. It’s been a lifelong dream to be a mascot!
What was the experience like that day?
Everyone thought I was a guy. They all assumed I was a guy and they were surprised when they heard my voice. Interestingly, it was mostly just the guys that assumed I was a guy.
It’s easier to interact when you’re wearing a suit. Without one, you avoid eye contact. But you’re friendlier in a suit!
People took a lot of pictures, and they were very polite. A lot of them were perceptive and noticed the mouth hole in the costume, then told me there shouldn’t be a hole in the condom, etcetera. So I’d say “Here, take a condom that doesn’t have a hole, we’re giving them out!”
I’ve made signs for Pride, and done mailings, but I never imagined I’d be wearing a condom costume. It was a crazy twist and I really enjoyed doing it!