A Phone Call For Fitting In
Almost fifteen years ago, Brad Becker took a call from a teenager in the Midwest, who needed some advice. He was thinking about coming out. Through their conversation Becker learned that no one had ever told the boy it was OK.
The call wasn’t random, it was coming into the LGBT National Help Center, where Becker is today the executive director. The Center gives out free - and confidential - counseling, advice, and local information to anyone who needs or wants it.
The hotline was founded in 1995, an outgrowth of what was then the New York City hotline, a similar enterprise that focused on the city. Back then, Becker said, there were around 150 local hotlines like this, but each one was specific to its locale, separate from the others. This hotline, Becker envisioned, would be different and would help anyone, anywhere.
Today the San Francisco-based hotline holds over 15,000 resources in its one-of-a-kind database. Many of those local hotlines around the country have since disappeared making the National Help Center’s hotline even more important.
"It put increased pressure on the national hotline," Becker said. "Support from our community has been wonderful."
The hotline is funded through individual donations only. But money is only one part of what’s needed to run the place. The other part is supported by volunteers who answer calls and farm resources out to the public.
Overseeing the volunteers and maintaining the extensive database is Aaron Almanza. The manager of information technology joined the team in 2008.