San Carlos, CA March 27, 2020 – The San Mateo County Pride Center and its lead agency, StarVista, welcome its newest Director, Francisco “Frankie” Sapp. Since 2017, the Pride Center has been a champion of support, education, and advocacy. Frankie joins a team of six mental health clinicians and case managers, five staff, and 30 volunteers, just in time for International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st; a day celebrating transgender people and their contributions to society, and raising awareness about discrimination.
Many transgender people experience social rejection, fear, and violence, and research suggests that around 40% of transgender adults attempt suicide, most before the age of 25. “The good news,” said Frankie, “is it only takes one caring and accepting person to save someone’s life.”
Speaking of his experience as a trans person, Frankie explained, “For 15 years, I wished I was dead. I just knew I was different and different was wrong. When I finally came out as queer, and then trans, everyone accepted me; my parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, classmates, everyone! I’d hated myself while everyone around me loved me for who I was. That’s what I want for others, and for them to know that acceptance is possible.”
In the midst of COVID-19, the Pride Center is taking steps to ensure its community stays connected. ”Our services are ‘virtually’ open,” said Frankie. “Our peer support groups and volunteer program are moving online, and counseling and drop-in services are available by phone and web applications. We are the community we serve, and we are here for you.“
As an essential social service provider, StarVista continues serving community through our nearly 30 programs. “We have effective, safe solutions in place to ensure we are reaching clients,” said StarVista CEO, Sara Mitchell, adding, “Many of our neighbors are experiencing unemployment and mental health challenges right now, but helping people overcome life’s challenges is what we do best and is what we will continue to do.”
StarVista’s 24/7 shelter and crisis support services are open. Need support? Call Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Hotline (650) 579-0350 or (800) 273-8255 or Differential Response Resource Line (650) 489-2097.
The San Mateo County Pride Center is an Innovation (INN) program under the Mental Health Services Act, funded by San Mateo County Behavioral Health Recovery Services (BHRS). It is a collaboration between StarVista, Outlet of Adolescent Counseling Services, and Peninsula Family Service.
StarVista is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 that delivers high impact services through counseling, skill development, and crisis prevention. For more than 50 years, StarVista has helped children, youth, adults, and families navigate life’s challenges by empowering individuals, inspiring hope, and strengthening communities.