As a key sponsor of both the Seattle and Spokane Pride Parades earlier this month, Premera showed up in each event in a huge way, and I was honored to march in both. Last year was Premera’s first year as a major sponsor of the Seattle Pride Parade.
“Putting a roof over someone’s head”
This year, we wanted to show our commitment to the community in a real way. We marched with a powerful and inspiring community organization we already support through the Premera Social Impact program—Cocoon House. Together, we had almost 400 people march with our float (also new this year).
Back in March, we committed to helping Cocoon House in the construction of its new facility in downtown Everett, the Colby Avenue Youth Center. This facility will allow the organization to further their capacity in serving homeless youth and families in Snohomish County where Premera’s corporate headquarters is based.
If you’ve read anything about Premera Social Impact this year, you’ll know the fundamental goal is to improve healthcare in the community by addressing behavioral health issues, including addiction, impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACES), resulting homelessness, and more. As our vice president of Corporate Communications, Steve Kipp, put it at the groundbreaking ceremony,
“Putting a roof over someone’s head is the best thing you can do for their health and wellbeing.”
Some of our most vulnerable community members are teens who identify as LGBTQ, and the normal struggles of growing up often come with a lack of acceptance from family and peers. Many of them are kicked out of their homes. LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness as a result, and one in three will attempt suicide.
We are so lucky to have an organization like Cocoon House in our community who can help these young adults. They provide a full continuum of services through outreach, housing and prevention to more than 2,500 young people and their families each year, about 30 percent of which identify as LGBTQ.
We’re still working and growing
Showing up in the Spokane Pride Parade on June 9 was a new and exciting experience. Despite the rain, the energy was infectious as the parade of a few thousand people traveled through downtown Spokane.
All this to say, our pride is growing here at Premera. We know the work in achieving equal human rights throughout our region and the world is far from over. This was simply one more step in the right direction.
As we see behavioral health issues and suicide continue to rise, and ongoing homelessness increase, we should ask ourselves: “What would life look like if we all did what we could to love, support and respect each other?”
I think it would look a lot like the celebration of diversity and love I experienced at the Seattle and Spokane Pride Parades.
Lisa Silvestre is vice president of National Accounts and Public Programs Operations at Premera.