By Stacey Prince, Beyond the Bridge
Three years ago on a rainy October day, my wife, Teri Mayo and I, took a long walk across the Aurora Bridge. The events of that day evolved into us starting a nonprofit that has become one of the biggest priorities and greatest joys of our professional lives.
That October walk was a vigil and march designed to bring community awareness to suicide and the need for greater prevention efforts. There were a startling number of LGBTQ youth suicides in the news and I had seen the devastating effects of bullying, family rejection, homophobia and transphobia in my clinical practice. Teri and I organized about 40 friends and colleagues, printed t-shirts and information cards on the risks of suicide among LGBTQ youth and marched alongside the original event participants.
After the march we wanted to galvanize the energy, support and enthusiasm it had generated and to create a sustained effort to address the challenges facing LGBTQ youth. We decided to build a fundraising organization that could provide support to the many great community organizations already working on these issues. Partnering with The Pride Foundation, we established an Area of Interest fund and Beyond the Bridge (BTB) was founded.
In just two years, Beyond the Bridge has raised over $25,000, mostly from individual donors, and has made grants to 11 local organizations working to reduce risk factors and increase resilience among LGBTQ youth. In addition to direct suicide prevention efforts, these organizations focus on some of the most significant risk factors that contribute to LGBTQ youth suicidality, including bias based bullying, family rejection, homelessness, messages of intolerance from faith communities and the homophobia and transphobia that fuel these issues.
While fundraising and grant making are BTB’s primary goals, we also focus on community awareness and education through a resource-filled monthly e-newsletter, social media postings and face to face events. BTB also acts as a clearinghouse, connecting people to organizations and organizations to each other.
Teri and I are looking to build a community of supporters and increase our grant making capacity by expanding fundraising efforts to foundations that are committed to supporting LGBTQ youth. Even in the face of great advances like marriage equality, there is still so much work to be done. LGBTQ youth still experience suicidality and associated risk factors at disproportionate and alarming rates. The vision of Beyond the Bridge is a world in which all youth can not only survive but thrive, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We continue to raise funds and awareness, in the hope that some day organizations like ours will be unnecessary.
We were honored to be spotlighted at the GSBA "Women on Top" event at Safeco Field! What a unique opportunity to take in the sweeping views of the field and mingle with old and new friends. We so appreciated getting to speak to the 100 plus women in attendance about the work Beyond the Bridge has accomplished in our first two years and plans for the future. Thank you, GSBA, for supporting local non-profits in such a creative and fun way! - Stacey Prince, Beyond the Bridge
Editor’s Note: Stacey Prince is a psychologist and part of a large group practice on Capitol Hill and Teri Mayo is a massage therapist and owner of a busy clinic. You can learn more about Beyond the Bridge on their website, . BTB was also spotlighted during GSBA’s Women on Top event at Safeco Field on April 4.