by Kayla Sheely

Pride Month is an important time to celebrate and recognize our LGBTQ+ community. Celebrated in June, Pride commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which changed the course of gay rights in America. Pride is also an opportunity to raise awareness about issues or challenges affecting the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a chance to embrace who you are regardless of who you love.

Usually marked with parades and marches, Pride celebrations this year looked a little different around the world due to the ongoing global pandemic. However, the community still found ways to commemorate the month.

While we work to honor our LGBTQ+ employees year-round, Voice Systems Engineering wanted to come together to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. Each quarter, we host a charity event, and our community team thought Pride would be the perfect opportunity to get more involved.

Despite being limited with COVID and ever-changing guidelines, our community team planned an outdoor walk as a way to get people involved, as safely as possible. Jaclyn Torpey, Charity Events Coordinator, says that when the idea of doing a Pride walk was brought to the team, it made total sense. “Since we are such a diverse, open company and we try to support those causes as it is, why would we not do something for it?” Jaclyn states. “We wanted a way to showcase our support for Pride while incorporating health and wellness, as it is one of our initiatives for employees. We decided that walk would help raise awareness for the cause while also encouraging employees to get exercise.”

Originally planned for June, a heatwave forced the walk to be rescheduled in July. The mile walk consisted of four laps around VSE’s parking lot, followed by lunch and water ice in the office. “I initially thought going back to the office we weren't going to get more than five or six people,” Jaclyn remarks. “I thought the fact that we had around 20 people was awesome, especially considering a lot of our employees are remote. To have 20 people show up under the circumstances we are still in, shows that it went really well.”

All funds raised from the walk benefit The Trevor Project, which is “the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.” While VSE corporate donations usually go to national organizations, our community team picks local organizations to benefit from employee-driven fundraisers as a way to give back to our community. “The Trevor Project was the organization we chose because the importance of mental health aligns with both our services and VSE’s corporate culture,” Jaclyn notes. Since The Trevor Project has a Philadelphia chapter and is focused on both mental health and LGBTQ+, it seemed like a perfect match.

Our community team is already brainstorming new ideas to celebrate Pride next year along with ways to include our remote employees.  

To learn more about The Trevor Project, visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org/.