Friday Evolve! party helps fight youth suicide

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imageThe Bill Lowe Gallery once again provides a posh setting for the annual Evolve! fundraiser set for Friday. An open bar, hors d’oeuvres and DJ Travis Roache provide a festive backdrop to help a serious issue.

The event (photos from Evolve! 2009) benefits YouthPride’s suicide prevention program, which provides professional counseling for at-risk teens as well as their families.

Evolve! was started in honor of Keith Cheung, a YouthPride supporter and volunteer who committed suicide. Reaching not only the youth themselves, but the people closest to them, is vital to recognizing warning sides that can help drop the far-greater suicide rate for LGBTQ youth than their heterosexual counterparts, says Terence McPhaul, executive director of YouthPride.

“The event as well as other funding programs are critical to help youth who are suffering in silence, may be having some of the same thoughts Keith had,” McPhaul says. “We need to make sure we’re getting through to people that resources and counseling are available and that suicide isn’t necessary.”

When the program began, “we didn’t realize how significant the problem was,” McPhaul says.

But five years later, the session schedules are fully booked for three counselors—one full time, one part time and one volunteer dedicated to the program. Licensed therapists are also available for crisis intervention.

“We’re so grateful to them for all they do,” he adds. “It’s more than a job to them; it’s a commitment.”

imageThe fifth annual Evolve! fundraiser on Friday is more crucial than ever to keeping the program up and running. To that end, an open bar, a fajita bar provided by No Mas! Cantina and beats provided by Travis Roache are designed to open your pocketbooks for a worthy cause.

The event is free, but donations are strongly suggested. It will take place among the art of the gay-owned Bill Lowe Gallery, “so it should be really special,” McPhaul says. “People like Bill who give of themselves and recognize the importance of our programs and want to help are invaluable.”

Even more special? “We’ll have a few celebrity guests dropping by,” he teases, but he says you’ll have to attend to find out who they are.

“We’re really looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing all our friends and supporters. It should be a great event.”

View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from last year’s event.

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