Prideful D.C.

Although D.C. Pride did not have the same uniquely perfect timing as the San Francisco and NYC (and others’) Pride weekends enjoyed – theirs inaugurated with the historical moment of marriage equality for all ushered into America last Friday – it nonetheless provided for a week of amazing Pride-ful presence across the nation’s capital. Granted, my experience of the Pride Week was undoubtedly enhanced by the fact that I work for an LGBTQ non-profit organization and thus was able to march in the parade, work a booth for the festival, and even visit two local schools to spread the good vibes and awareness to youth in D.C.

That week, I visited both Woodrow Wilson and Cardozo High School for their Pride Day Celebrations as a Trevor advocate – an experience that brought back warm memories of the various efforts and endeavors of the QSA (Queer Straight Alliance) from my own high school. The group was active and motivated when I was a student there – and hopefully still is – and my involvement in the QSA was paramount to the development of my interest in LGBTQ rights and advocacy, especially in relation to LGBTQ youth. Generating ideas among a group of inspired teenagers, all working towards the same common ground, can be such a rewarding experience. I saw that same enthusiasm and interest expressed in students today at the event as groups of friends made their way over to the Trevor table and asked us questions about how to get involved and best protect their peers and themselves against the risks of suicidality and mental health issues.

I really enjoy working in the advocacy and public policy sphere of the Trevor Project. The work keeps me involved and attached to current LGBTQ politics and issues, even though I am not responsible for working the lifeline resource itself. I have such admiration and respect for the Trevor volunteers who spend their time serving on the lifeline and providing that vital support to the youth that need it most – and I’m honestly not sure if I could serve in that position myself, day in and day out. The stories we hear from the lifeline can be utterly devastating. But this opportunity today was unique and heart-warming in that I gained firsthand exposure, even if just for a couple hours, to the population of youth that we seek to support – and so many of them seemed genuinely interested in and thankful for the work that we do. I hope the young people in this country continue to hold onto that drive and inspiration.

A Month Down: City Livin' and Workin' in the District of Columbia

Last spring, I applied for the Williamson Fellowship—a subset of the Davidson Impact Fellowship Program—and was awarded the opportunity to work with the Trevor Project in Washington D.C., the nation’s leading nonprofit organization that promotes mental health wellness and suicide prevention among the LGBTQ youth population of America. Due to a somewhat sudden shift in circumstances, with the departure of two key employees (one of whom had been appointed as my supervisor for the fellowship) from Trevor’s D.C. office, I was given the option to work out of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) office while still technically working as a Trevor employee. At first, I was a bit hesitant about the switch, but I am now so glad that I agreed to it.

the-trevor-project

 

My main project for the next twelve months is the development of a suicide prevention model policy for institutions of higher education across the nation—a mission that the Trevor Project is spearheading, with AFSP as a partner organization as well as the enlisted help of Active Minds and the Jed Foundation. Therefore, although I am working remotely for Trevor right now (which is subject to change in a couple of months once the D.C. office rehires the positions of the two employees that left), it is wonderful to have immediate, direct access to the partner organization for the project . The AFSP office in D.C. is small, intimate, and has a great vibe among its employees. I am nearing the four-week mark of my job, and I have really enjoyed it so far. Plus, my office has full-length windows and even my very own door: any new-to-the-workforce gal’s dream come true.

AFSP-Logo-Large

 

The transition of moving to a new city was hectic and a little hard at first; I’ve called North Carolina my home for 22 years, so it has been a big adjustment. I’ve always been fond of the city of Washington D.C., though—it was by no accident that I selected to work in the Trevor Project D.C. offi

ce (there are also offices in West Hollywood and NYC). It has most anything you’d want out of a fun, good-to-live-in city: interesting groups of people everywhere you turn, gorgeous architecture throughout the diverse neighborhoods, super clean metros, countless good brunch spots (people here are honestly obsessed with brunch, but I won’t complain).

Next blog post, I’m sure I’ll have more to report on the details of my job life, as my primary project picks up momentum. But so far, so good!

P.S. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day! Make sure to spread the word and your support. 🙂

suicide prev day

 

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