Celebrating the Power of Making a Difference

Guest blogger Stacey Prince founded the Beyond the Bridge Fund at Pride Foundation. Here, she reflects on her experiences and how she believes positive changes are being made for LGBTQ folks since founding the fund in 2010.

“What do you want for your birthday?”  People asked, and I didn’t know what to tell them.  Really, I don’t need anything – I have a wonderful spouse, a job that I adore, a loving family and community, and two of the sweetest dogs ever.  Life is good, and I’m feeling happy and relatively un-angsty about turning 50.  But it’s a big one, and people wanted to know, so I told them one thing that would always make me happy: a donation to the Beyond the Bridge fund at Pride Foundation.

My partner, Teri Mayo, and I started Beyond the Bridge about two and a half years ago, during the fall of 2010. At the time there were so many terrible stories in the news about LGBTQ youth taking their own lives and in my own practice as a clinical psychologist I was seeing the negative impact of homophobia, transphobia, bullying, family rejection, and messages of intolerance.  We wanted to do something about this – not just to encourage LGBTQ youth to hang in there until things get better, but to do something to make a difference in their lives now.  So we created Beyond the Bridge with the goal of raising funds to support organizations in Washington State that work with and on behalf of LGBTQ youth, reducing the risk factors that contribute to suicidality and increase their resilience and support.

In our first two years we raised $25,000 and made grants to eleven great organizations.  We’ve held community events and raised awareness through e-newsletters and social media postings.  We’ve met amazing, creative, dedicated people, and have been blessed to have the support and enthusiasm of Pride Foundation behind us.  It’s been pretty sweet, and best of all, we feel like we’re helping to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth in Washington State.

This year we wanted to expand our grant making capacity by applying to some foundations in addition to the fantastic circle of individual donors who have generously supported us thus far.  We decided to start with The Looking Out Foundation, Brandi Carlile’s philanthropic foundation dedicated to supporting under-served communities through music.

We love Brandi and have followed her career since the early days when she used to open for the Indigo Girls.  When we saw her perform at Benaroya Hall last November, we learned that she had started the Looking Out Foundation in 2008 and donates $1 of every ticket sale to non-profits.  Looking at their website and the great organizations they have funded, many of whom are much better established than we are (such as The Trevor Project, HopeLink, Washington United for Marriage), we weren’t sure we had a shot.  But we decided to go for it, and to our great surprise and joy we received a grant for $5,000!

Words cannot express how meaningful this support is and what a boost of confidence it is for us, especially coming from someone whose beautiful music and powerful voice we have loved for years.  Plus Brandi, a hometown girl from Washington State, is a fantastic example of the power musicians, actors, athletes and other public figures can wield when they take a stand for equality and against hate, bullying, homophobia and transphobia.

The Looking Out Foundation’s donation reached Pride Foundation last Monday.  Then, as an amazing week unfolded, the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and Prop 8 took place.  We know we won’t hear the ruling until June, and it may not be exactly what we all want to hear, but still it’s still a step in the right direction. The strides our community is taking are at times breathtaking.  I’m thinking this might have been one of the best birthday weeks ever.

Stacey and her spouse, Teri, founded the Beyond the Bridge fund at Pride Foundation in 2010. For questions on Pride Foundation funds, or to get in touch with Stacey directly, please email Jody – jody@pridefoundation.org.

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