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Young Professionals Step Up for Trevor

Young Professionals Step Up for Trevor

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Star Trek alum George Takei and Tony award winner Lea Salonga were among the special guests at a party hosted by the Trevor Project Young Professionals Collective on Thursday night in New York City to raise money for LGBT youth suicide prevention.

Held at the Theory flagship store in the Meatpacking District, the first annual Fall Fete drew more than 400 guests and raised over $30,000 for the organization's general operating budget, according to Trevor Project major gifts officer Johnny Cooper. He said the event was "totally successful" and represented an exciting new step in the organization's ongoing expansion.

"Trevor's been going through a very significant growth period," said Cooper, citing increased outreach to different demographic groups, program growth and increased development opportunities. Founded in 1998, the Trevor Project is the leading accredited national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth, offering advocacy and services like its 24/7 helpline, which counsels tens of thousands of callers each year.

Hosts said that the event, which they started to organize about eight weeks ago, took on special meaning in light of the past month's highly publicized LGBT youth suicides. As media overage reached its height, so did interest in the benefit, which sold out more than a week early and drew attendees including Bravo's Andy Cohen, Scott Herman, Maulik Pancholy, Erica Williams, former Clinton LGBT adviser Richard Socardies, and The A-List cast members Reichen Lehmkuhl, Mike Ruiz, and Ryan Nikulas.

In addition to overwhelming interest in the inaugural fall event, hosts said that in the past month the nonprofit has seen more calls to its helpline, a surge in web site traffic and more demand for Trevor, the 1994 Academy Award-winning film that is the organization's namesake. Film director Peggy Rajski, a founder of the Trevor Project, summarized the mixed mood of the evening.

"We're here in one way to celebrate the great work that we're doing, but also with pangs of sorry over the tragedies of the past month," she said.

Takei and his husband, Brad Altman, talked about the importance of the Trevor Project's mission, with the Heroes star offering words of encouragement from his own experience growing up in internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"Having had that, I was strengthened," he said. "It made it more possible to be resilient when I came out. Here I have a vibrant career, a wonderful husband of 23 years. Life does get better. Brad and I are examples of that."

The event is one of two that the new Young Professionals Collective, a development subcommittee of the Trevor Project, plans to present in the fall and spring with the goal of tapping into the social networks of their peers. The inaugural Spring Fling was held last March and raised $14,000.

"Our work is another component to all the things that Trevor does," said Peter Yacobellis of the Young Professionals Collective. "We're trying to penetrate the youth, professional, urban market."
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