Snapshots from Service
Hello, my name is Beth Anne Baugh and I’m an LGBTQ+ youth care coordinator at JASMYN in Jacksonville, FL! I’m serving in our housing department, which means most of my time is spent helping with our housing resource drop-in hours on weekdays or handling rental assistance cases. At our drop-in hours, clients can come in to shower, eat some food, and connect with resources like shelter linkages, assistance with getting vital documents, and pretty much whatever we can help with!
The drop-in center is probably my favorite part; we get so many different kinds of people coming through. Some are regulars, and some only come through once or twice to get help with a specific thing before they move on. Because of the space that we cultivate, it’s also really easy to find queer joy even in situations that don’t have a lot of good to them.
One of the cases that I’ve felt the best about, like I really made a difference in someone’s life, started back in January. A young transgender guy, freshly 18, was dropped on our doorstep after being kicked around by the mental healthcare system, and he didn’t have anywhere else to go. At first, he was quiet and sullen, which I can’t blame him for. A lot of our young people are hesitant to get to know us because of their past experiences with the system. However, over time, that changed. We were able to house him in a hotel temporarily, and he came to the drop-in hours regularly. He opened up and turned out to be one of the friendliest, most creative people I’ve met. He really connected with some of our trans staff members and expressed how excited he was to be in a space where he felt like he could be the man he knew he was.
Fast forward a few weeks, and this client is now placed in a transitional housing program, and we will continue to work with him for as long as he keeps coming back. Serving in housing can feel like fighting a losing battle, because so many of our systems in place for housing are stacked against people in poverty. However, I am often reminded of why I chose this as my host site. Trans youth are so often abused by so many of the systems in their lives that should be helping them, especially trans people of color, and the fact that I get to serve them every day is priceless, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.