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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Heroes of the Week: FORGE Volunteers

Forge Milwaukee
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FORGE began in the Milwaukee/Chicago area 20 years ago as a support group for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and communities, those in the female-to-male sphere and SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family and Allies). Today, this nonprofit’s programming spans the nation, offering support, education and advocacy for the rights and lives of these individuals.

“We are closely involved with national efforts to improve federal policies related to LGBT issues,” said Loree Cook-Daniels, FORGE’s policy and program director. “We sit on national coalitions working on LGBT aging, anti-violence and general transgender issues and policies.”

FORGE’s work in Milwaukee continues to grow and relies heavily on volunteers. This branch hosts two support and educational groups monthly: one for parents of transgender children/youth and one that’s open to everyone. Support and educational tools are available nationally through online webinars. The nonprofit also sponsors stand-alone education events each year, is a regular partner with the Milwaukee LGBT Film and Video Festival, has co-sponsored the Health and Wellness section of PrideFest for several years and, this year, worked with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Medicine group at the Medical College of Wisconsin that provided training to more than 100 health care providers on transgender health needs. The local chapter is also working on expanding its referral list for therapists and physicians interested in working with the transgender community.

FORGE is currently seeking volunteers interested in helping with graphic design or those with other professional skills. In addition, the nonprofit will be holding an online discussion open to the public titled “Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Sexual Assault Victims” on Wednesday, June 25, from 1-2 p.m. with guest hosts Cook-Daniels and michael munson, co-founder and executive director of FORGE. Visit ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum for more information.

To learn more about FORGE’s programming, to donate or to find volunteer opportunities, visit forge-forward.org or email AskFORGE@forge-forward.org.