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Pride Donor Spotlight

BY: Trevor News
Pride Donor Spotlight: Gina Mariko Rosales, Erin Arnheim, Nate Koch

For Pride this year, we’re focusing on community. Stories of Pride: The Power of Us celebrates those who have supported LGBTQ young people and made them feel part of something bigger over the years. Our donors are some of the most passionate, dedicated members of the Trevor family and make our Trevor community what it is. We wanted to take some space to celebrate some of the amazing individual donors who make our life-saving work possible and connect with them about their stories. Our donors are the heart of our organization, and we’re so excited to give you the opportunity to get to know them better. 

Gina Mariko Rosales

Gina Mariko Rosales (she/her) is an entrepreneur, experience curator, and nonprofit advocate. She is the Founder & Chief Experience Officer (CEO) of Make it Mariko Events, as well as the Co-Founder & Event Producer of the well-known UNDISCOVERED San Francisco Creative Night Market in SOMA Pilipinas. Gina’s mission is to curate magical, meaningful moments for the community while amplifying the voices of creatives of color. She is committed to curating creative, inclusive, and diverse spaces in the events industry, to challenge the status quo, and pave the way for a new generation of event experience curators.

Why do you think it’s important for an organization like The Trevor Project to exist?

The Trevor Project does critical life-saving work tailored to a really specific community with very specific needs. I have never seen an organization care so much about their audience and about educating all their volunteers, community, and team how to be best prepared to work with such a unique, and at-risk community. They do amazing work.

What is your personal story that brought you to Trevor?

In 2011 my cousin Jonathan took his own life. It was completely unexpected, very tragic, and it shook my entire family, and me, to our core. His death broke us open as a family and it forced me to look at my life in a different way. After his death, I was searching for something, anything, to help me get a grasp on life and feel like I had any sort of power, after feeling so powerLESS in being able to help/save him. I Googled suicide prevention work and found Trevor Project.

Even though Jonathan was not LGBT, learning about how more at risk LGBT youth were at dying by suicide it moved me to want to take action, especially with all the work I had done with LGBT community in the past. I was working at Google at the time and I launched a fundraiser to try to raise $1500, which I then offered to match, to donate to The Trevor Project. At first, some of my family was not supportive as we were still reeling from the loss and there was a lot of shame attached to it. But in the end, my family was very supportive and felt that raising the money helped HEAL us.

After that day, I continued raising money for The Trevor Project, I joined the San Francisco  Volunteer Council, and used my newly launched event planning company, Make it Mariko, to help produce “Trevor Runway ” in partnership with Twitter to raise even more critical funds for Trevor Project. We planned an amazing event with the who’s who of SF’s LGBT community in attendance. Later on I ended up producing multiple other fundraisers and Corporate Giving Campaigns at Google for the organization and I also went on to become a Suicide Chat Counselor with Trevor Project myself! Every Saturday I would log on to do a shift on the chat hotline, getting first hand experience helping youth in need. One day I even helped assist with a youth rescue, where we were able to find the local youth and get them help from their community and principal! This happened near the date of Jonathan’s death anniversary, so I knew it was a SIGN.

Later on I used my training as a suicide counselor to teach workshops to corporate groups at Google about how to recognize signs of suicide early on and how to be an ally and support system for LGBT youth in crisis. 

I’ve probably helped fundraise over $50K collectively for The Trevor Project over the years. It’s been a blessing!

Have you or anyone in your life found The Trevor Project helpful in some way?

All the skills I’ve learned by being a suicide chat counselor have helped me immensely in my day to day work. I learned critical language to help someone in crisis, and how to speak with more empathy and understanding to everyone in my life. I think everyone should go through similar trainings!

What are some words of affirmation you would share with LGBTQ young people?

LIFE IS WORTH LIVING. Regardless of how hard it feels right now, there is something at the end of this dark tunnel that is worth it. And there are people who LOVE you, even if they don’t know you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE 🧡 YOU ARE AMAZING.

How do you explain Trevor’s work to other people? Have you been able to convince other people to get involved with Trevor?

The Trevor Project does critical life saving work to help at risk LGBT youth to know that they are loved, they are valued, and their lives are worth living. They provide support and resources to some of the most vulnerable communities. 

Trevor is a supportive community for LGBTQ young people, but also for each other. Talk about how Trevor has helped you find community.

I’ve met so so so many amazing people through the Trevor Project events that I’ve done. It’s helped me connect deeper into the community and build relationships that I treasure!

At least one supportive adult can lower the risk of suicide for LGBTQ young people. How do you show up for LGBTQ young people in your community?

I show up by creating safe spaces for LGBT youth to exist and just be through community events. 🧡

Nate Koch

Nate Koch(he/him) lives in Milwaukee, WI with his partner and two dogs, Bennington & Chester.

Why do you think it’s important for an organization like The Trevor Project to exist?

For me, an organization like The Trevor Project provides hope and visibility for the community, especially to those that may not have a strong support system around them at the moment. Many years ago when I was growing up in a small suburban town, I felt isolated and thought that I was all alone trying to hide who I was and convince others I was someone different. At the time, that felt like what I was going to have to do my entire life. It didn’t feel like another option was possible. As I got older, visibility for the LGBTQ community increased, and my exposure to a world outside of where I grew up came into view, I realized that my life didn’t have to be one that I hid, but one that I could own and celebrate. I could just be me. 

Even at a young age, just knowing that The Trevor Project existed and that there were others who felt what I felt and that there were adults affirming a life of honesty gave me a different outlook, even if I still wasn’t ready to share who I was. It would have changed my internal dialogue and that would have made a world of difference.

What is your personal story that brought you to Trevor?

In 2013, I threw a 10-year anniversary party of the day that I came out to my family and close friends. I invited all the people in my life who supported and celebrated who I was, and it was a moment in time where I could reflect on having become my authentic self and all the love I had in my life. That evening one of my co-workers and friends donated to The Trevor Project in my honor. I tweeted about my friend who donated to The Trevor Project saying it was the best gift, and Trevor Project responded. They asked me how I summed up that past 10 years of my life and I replied sharing a blog post that I’d written as a reflection. They then asked if they could share it and ended up tweeting out my story. I ended up getting so many emails and comments and realized that I had the power to make a difference in the lives of those around me, and maybe even another generation who was growing up feeling just how I’d been feeling those 10+ years before. This started my connection with Trevor and I’ve been a supporter ever since, presenting The Trevor Project as an opportunity for my company to support (Kohl’s), which they’ve since supported for 5 years, and as a place for to raise money with our #PrideAtHome campaign that we started during the pandemic to spread Pride in our community even though all Pride gatherings had been shut down. 

Have you or anyone in your life found The Trevor Project helpful in some way?

I know that friends and coworkers (who are parents) have shared that they came to learn about The Trevor Project through things I’ve shared., I know that those people I’m connected to have talked to their kids about it and shared who The Trevor Project is and why it exists.

What are some words of affirmation you would share with LGBTQ young people?

Support and love is out there. It may not always feel like it, and in some places it may be hard to come by, but there is a full world out there that will love and accept every part of who you are. And when you can find a safe space to live authentically, you will thrive and live a life you’ve always dreamed of. You’ll take pride in who you are and be unapologetic for it, and you’ll realize how strong you were all along.

How do you explain Trevor’s work to other people? Have you been able to convince other people to get involved with Trevor?

I explain Trevor as an organization that provides support and resources to LGBTQ youth and their parents/caretakers, and provides immediate support in the prevention of teen suicide that disproportionally affects the LGBTQ community.

Trevor is a supportive community for LGBTQ young people, but also for each other. Talk about how Trevor has helped you find community.

I’ve found Trevor Project to be a unifier. When you talk about supporting LGBTQ youth, most understand what that means and are willing to support however they can. Even someone that doesn’t agree with you politically. When you localize and humanize what Trevor Project does you find that most people want to support its mission. 

With more awareness surrounding mental health, I think more parents are also looking for resources and ways to support their kids and will come with questions or ask for information that they can share with someone they know. It has made me realize, when it can be hard to see, that there is a support network out there that is large, strong, and willing to be an ally and advocate.

At least one supportive adult can lower the risk of suicide for LGBTQ young people. How do you show up for LGBTQ young people in your community?

Each year my partner and I set out a sign telling people to take a free Pride and/or Trans Flag to display in their yard for Pride month. While you don’t have to, we ask that if people can that they make a donation to The Trevor Project for our team donation page. We do this each year and have organized this as a #PrideAtHome campaign where we have over 80+ families that do this with us across the country. It’s a great way to show up and drive support in our local communities for Pride.

The best story has been when my parents participated in our second year of doing this, and in my childhood neighborhood which is very conservative, they got a handwritten letter in their mailbox from a kid that said this was the first showing of support that they felt and thanked my parents for setting out their sign and flags. This is just one of many stories we’ve heard of people having from doing our sign and flag campaign, and we look to grow it larger and larger each year. More about it can be found here: https://natepk.com/2022/02/28/prideathomecampaign2022/

Erin Arnheim

Erin Arnheim (she/her)holds a BA in Business Management from St. Edwards University in Austin, a MA in Secondary Education in History & Social Sciences from DePaul University in Chicago, and obtained a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Texas in Austin in May 2021. After working in the financial services industry for over 20 years, Erin transitioned into the nonprofit sector and joined Legacy Collective in April 2020, currently serving as the CEO. She hosts Legacy Collective’s “Elevating Their Impact” podcast & videocast, where she highlights nonprofits from around the world that are making sustainable impacts on systemic issues. Erin has spent the past 25 years volunteering and serving on various boards focused on foster care as well as college persistence programs. In her free time, Erin loves to travel, try new restaurants, and soak in the culture along the way!

Why do you think it’s important for an organization like The Trevor Project to exist?

The Trevor Project is saving lives! They are doing the research to know what needs done to help those most affected in their community and they are providing the services and resources to support LGBTQ young people all over the world — these resources are saving lives, providing immediate and long term support, and helping those supported thrive long-term. We need those we serve to thrive; we need their hearts, their skills, their talents in our communities. And The Trevor Project is making that possible.

What is your personal story that brought you to Trevor?

My father came out to us when I was 19. And part of his story involved his struggle with attempted suicide due to his identity and his struggle with mental health. When Liz Dyer from the Mama Bears suggested The Trevor Project to me as one of the first grant recipients for the Mama Bears Giving Circle under Legacy Collective, I knew we had to partner with them. We also have a donor couple who had simultaneously been helping me connect with Trevor Project on possibly funding some of their incredible research initiatives. 

What are some words of affirmation you would share with LGBTQ young people?

You matter. Each of you has been placed in this time with such specific gifts, stories, and purpose. And you are beautiful humans just as you are! We are so privileged to benefit from what you bring to each table you join and create. Know that this world is a more beautiful, wiser, kinder place with YOU in it!

How do you explain Trevor’s work to other people? Have you been able to convince other people to get involved with Trevor?

Trevor Project provides life lines to LGBTQ youth and young adults in crisis and with resources for longer term support. Trevor is a supportive community for LGBTQ young people, but also for each other. 

At least one supportive adult can lower the risk of suicide for LGBTQ young people. How do you show up for LGBTQ young people in your community?

I make sure that every single young person in my life knows I celebrate the LGBTQ community so that if they are in this community, they know I am a safe space for them. I am very vocal about my love and advocacy for this community personally and professionally. 

How have you seen Trevor grow over the past years? What are you most excited for in the future? 

I am excited to watch them help fight and overturn anti-LGBTQ legislation! This will be such a key factor in helping those they serve.

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