Joseph Kimmer is a father who is spreading the word about The Trevor Project, the nation's leading non-profit organization dedicated to crisis intervention and suicide prevention amongst LGBTQ youth. For him, it's more than volunteerism; it's a personal mission.
"My son, Michael, was brave; always positive on the outside, but on the inside, he was suffering. When we lost him… How much he suffered is something I can't imagine. Every parent and every school district in the country should know where to turn to if they suspect that their child is in silent despair," Kimmer told Windy City Times during a Trevor Project fundraiser, held at a private residence on the 1400 block of West Addison Oct. 16.
Fortunately, the organization is gaining visibility. What began as suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth 14 years ago is now a multi-faceted organization that provides services ranging from access to mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors; transitional housing resources; even workshops for parents and educators to recognize and respond to kids in crisis.
Trevor Project CEO Charles Robbins said, "There were over 34,000 suicides in the U.S. last year. Our call centers have received 30,000 calls this year alone. Regardless of someone's sexual orientation or gender identityno matter what their background iswhen they reach out to us, they usually have one thing in common: They feel different. As we've learned, feeling different can manifest into feelings of isolation, the result of which can be deadly," Robbins said.
"Obviously we're seeing more incidents of bullying online and on school campuses, which is why we're pushing to get our suicide awareness and prevention curriculum into more schools, especially public schools, many of which lack any awareness, training, or policies concerning the plight of LGBTQ youth," Robbins said.
The Trevor Project was founded by James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award®-winning short film, Trevor. The plot underscores the pain felt by a 13-year-old boy ( Trevor ) , whose peers reject him because he is perceived to be gay, and his subsequent attempt to take his own life. Read more story below....
For more information on volunteering, donating and spreading the project's curriculum in schools, log on to http:// www.Trevorproject.org . For more on Trevor Project happenings in Chicago, check out http:// www.Facebook.com/ChicagoTrevor . Text by John Fenoglio and photos by Denver Smith; see more online at http:// www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .