Wells Fargo celebrates 30 years of commitment to the LGBT community, including support for organizations like The Trevor Project, GLSEN®, Point Foundation, and SAGE.

30 years of ‘Standing Together’

Wells Fargo celebrates 30 years of commitment to the LGBT community, including support for organizations like The Trevor Project, GLSEN®, Point Foundation, and SAGE.

June 21, 2017

Every week, no matter where she is or how hectic life gets, Stacy Smithers sits down at a computer for three hours to talk to LGBTQ youth who are struggling and need someone to listen. Whether these young adults are considering coming out, having suicidal thoughts, or dealing with other issues, Smithers, a volunteer for The Trevor Project, provides support through TrevorChat, a free and confidential instant messaging service.

“It’s all about making sure they are safe — during the chat and after,” said Smithers, a marketing manager for Wells Fargo in Los Angeles.

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24. Smithers first learned about the nonprofit when she attended fundraising dinners sponsored by Wells Fargo, and she quickly decided she wanted to get involved. She has volunteered with the organization for three years and is currently co-chair of its board of directors.

The Trevor Project was a place for Carmen Jane, right, to turn to as an LGBTQ youth. (2 minutes)

A three-decade commitment

The Trevor Project is one of many LGBT organizations that Wells Fargo supports, and it is one of four featured in a new campaign for Pride Month — Standing Together: 30 Years Strong.

Since 1987, when Wells Fargo added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, the company has provided more than $50 million in support to LGBT organizations. Focusing on internal support as well, its PRIDE Team Member Network has been active for 25 years and currently includes more than 11,000 Wells Fargo team members. In May, DiversityInc magazine ranked Wells Fargo one of the Top Companies for LGBT Employees.

The Standing Together campaign features videos highlighting organizations that are working to address critical needs within the LGBT community and have received significant support from Wells Fargo. In addition to The Trevor Project, GLSEN® (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network), Point Foundation, and SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) are showcased in the campaign.

“A big part of our commitment has been the support we’ve given nonprofits that address the needs of the LGBT community,” said John Lake, Wells Fargo’s LGBT segment marketing manager. “We wanted to turn the spotlight on the impact these organizations have had by telling the stories of real people. These particular organizations were chosen because of the level of commitment we’ve provided and because they address the needs of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community.”

GLSEN

Founded in 1990 by a group of teachers determined to improve the education system, GLSEN has a mission of ensuring that all students are valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Among its efforts, the group conducts research to inform schools about issues that affect students, provides resources like Safe Space Kits to help adults support LGBTQ students and prevent bullying, and supports student-led initiatives.

Jared Fox, right, talks about the support he received from GLSEN when he was bullied as an LGBTQ youth. (2 minutes)

Point Foundation

As the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students, Point Foundation provides scholarship funding, mentoring, leadership development, community service training, and internships. The nonprofit, which awarded its inaugural eight scholarships in 2002, will provide financial support for 97 students during the 2017-18 academic year.

Gabriel Maffuz-Anker, right, describes how a scholarship from the Point Foundation helped with his educational pursuit after being ostracized for his LGBTQ identity. (2 minutes)

SAGE

Dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults, SAGE offers services and resources for them and their caregivers, advocacy for public policies, and training for providers and LGBT organizations. The organization was founded in 1978 and currently has 28 affiliates in 21 states and Washington, D.C.

When Joyce Banks, right, lost her wife, she turned to SAGE for supportive housing for LGBT seniors like herself. (2 minutes)

‘You get a sense you’ve made a difference’

Being featured in the Standing Together campaign helps organizations like The Trevor Project widely spread their messages to places they cannot reach alone, said Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director for the organization. “It demonstrates to the public that major corporations believe in the work that The Trevor Project does and encourages them to use our services, volunteer, and/or donate to us,” he said. “But most importantly, the video encourages young people, their families, and others in communities to open their minds, understand more about LGBTQ people, and reach out to them to show their support.”

When Smithers first attended fundraising dinners for The Trevor Project, the mission of supporting LGBTQ youth and preventing suicide resonated with her.

Stacy Smithers, a Wells Fargo team member and The Trevor Project volunteer, participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle to Los Angeles in June.
Stacy Smithers, a Wells Fargo team member and The Trevor Project volunteer, participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle to Los Angeles in June.

“The most rewarding part is when, at the end of a chat, somebody shares that you helped them and they felt better,” Smithers said. “That’s a big deal when you end. You get a sense you’ve made a difference or maybe helped save a life.”

“I had had a situation with my daughter when she was 13,” Smithers said. “She was being bullied at school and having challenges, but she got help. Also, I’m a lesbian. I initially got involved as a board member and then became a volunteer to be a counselor on TrevorChat.”

Smithers has served on the marketing and board development committees, and after 40 hours of training, she became a counselor in March.

She said the resources The Trevor Project provides are crucial because of the challenges young adults face today. “It evolves,” Smithers said. “Kids are experiencing things younger and younger, and there’s a lot more self-harm. Kids are coming out younger and younger, and if you have these feelings, you want to talk about them.

“The most rewarding part is when, at the end of a chat, somebody shares that you helped them and they felt better,” Smithers said. “That’s a big deal when you end. You get a sense you’ve made a difference or maybe helped save a life.”

Contributors: Kathleen Llewellyn
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