Samsung Equality Alliance ERG National Chair and Retail Business Performance Manager Nash Gammill spoke with Sofi Goode (she/her), Senior Corporate Development Associate at The Trevor Project about the significance of giving back at a time when our collective support is needed most and the importance of building a sense of belonging for LGBTQ youth within the community.
Tell us about The Trevor Project and the various programs you offer the LGBTQ community.
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning) young people. The organization works to save young lives by providing support through free and confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention programs on platforms where young people spend their time: our 24/7 phone lifeline, chat, and text. We also run TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.
Have the programs and services you provide changed in response to the pandemic?
We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing mental health challenges and created new, unique problems for LGBTQ youth. Across our 24/7 lifeline, text, and chat crisis services, LGBTQ youth have expressed feeling isolated from their support systems, increased anxiety about the future, concerns about having nowhere to go, and economic insecurity, among other issues. According to a recent poll by The Trevor Project and Morning Consult, 40% of LGBTQ youth said the pandemic had impacted their ability to express their LGBTQ identity, and nearly 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth reporting feeling unsafe in their living situation since March.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the number of LGBTQ youth reaching out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services programs has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. In response, The Trevor Project has reaffirmed our commitment to providing every single young person who reaches out to us with the support they need and deserve—wherever, whenever, on the platforms that are most comfortable for them. This year, we are working to double our service capacity and continue building our capacity to serve every single one of the 1.8 million+ LGBTQ youth who seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. To make this growth possible in the midst of a global pandemic, Trevor took our operations completely remote, investing in a new platform to operate the TrevorLifeline outside of our physical call centers and creating virtual support networks for our counselors.
How important is volunteer engagement to your organization?
Volunteers are at the very heart of The Trevor Project’s work, and they undergo 40+ hours of training to support LGBTQ youth. Volunteer crisis counselors learn about sexual orientation and gender identity, suicidology, and understanding risk; they also complete a variety of roleplays to prepare them to interact with youth in crisis. The majority of the people operating our 24/7 crisis services are volunteers, and our work to save young LGBTQ lives would not be possible without them.
For Samsung Gives Month of Service, what initiatives did Samsung employees support?
With Samsung’s support, we were able to recognize and celebrate our volunteer crisis counselors for their dedication to LGBTQ youth! Samsung volunteers joined Trevor’s Holiday Thank-a-Thon to help us send a hand-written thank you card to each and every one of the volunteers who are supporting LGBTQ youth every day.
How do such efforts drive community impact?
The holidays can be a particularly challenging time for LGBTQ youth who aren’t able to be out or whose identities are not accepted by their families, and our counselors work around the clock to offer life-affirming support. Samsung’s volunteerism helps Trevor show our volunteers that they are essential to our mission and that their work is appreciated even beyond our organization. We couldn’t offer our services without our volunteers, and we hope that affirmation and recognition will support them to continue their life-saving work!
Samsung employee Anthony Lopez’s thank you cards for Trevor Project volunteers.