Hello everyone my name is Jazz.
I’m transgender. And I have had brain damage since I was a baby. It is hard to understand things, but I know I will go through the right path in time.
Before coming to Causeway, I had been homeschooled, but hadn’t finished high school, and I wasn’t working. I wanted to go back to high school. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to finish things off as an adult and go there and, you know, get a job.
I heard of the Solutions for Youth program at Causeway. The process to get in was very quick. I’ve made a few friends there, I like the people who work there.
We started in the program by setting goals, but it was tricky to try to set my goals. I didn’t know what goal to set. But basically, I was going each day, and it wasn’t just like, “Okay, I want to do this, let’s start with that.” It changes every day for me.
I think about my brain first, figuring out how to do things. As it panics, my brain panics like “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” and I’m like, “Can you do this ?” I needed to push it, you know? The first thing I had to do was getting my brain used to the same patterns of going to the Solutions for Youth program each day. My teacher, Erin, was very patient and accepting. I learned a lot too, like understanding other people – don’t judge a book by its cover. Think about what other people are going through. It showed me patience, honesty, kindness, and how to work with many different kinds of people. I feel like I fit in, because we all came to understand each other.
I was the first one in the program to get a job placement, but I would stay after work every single day until all of my friends started getting jobs. I wanted them to know I was still around and still here for them.
My placement was with Krackers Katering. It’s fast paced. I’m loving it though. They’re really nice. Everyone is nice and patient with me. I kind of ask the same question over and over because my brain always worries, like, “Can we just ask to be sure we’re supposed to be doing it like that? It could have changed since last time.” So that’s really fun.
I help with the dishes and getting things ready – I might learn more about how to prep the food, which I’m excited for. I also do the customer service, which I’m told I’m good at. Apart from working the cash register, that’s the worst part of the job, that thing pisses me off! but I didn’t give up on it and now I’m good.
I like being part of a team, and showing them that they can rely on me, you know, to get the dishes done, or take over the cash. They can trust me with all this stuff. Before I even got hired, I used to hide and I used to watch them cook everything, every single day until I started. I thought it was fantastic.
After my placement, Krackers hired me on, and I was so happy to keep on working there. I’m still working on my brain, and on handling my anger. Sometimes because I’m struggling to keep up with my team as being the new guy I can be afraid of asking for help, but I have to stop being afraid of that. I’m always looking out to see who else needs help, and I can pick up on the energy of someone when they’re struggling. Now I’m better at setting boundaries, and telling people when I have to save my
energy for another setting, like sometimes when I mentor a group at [an LGBTQ2S+ organization] and a conflict comes up, I know I’ll have to give my patience to that conflict. I practice in the morning to show up as calm and happy, to create a better environment for everyone.
Working at Krackers has shown me not to panic, as well as shown me, like, you have to go fast, but not too fast, you have to be safe. I’m part of the team. If you’re running out of patience, I’ll give you my patience. We’re giving each other that balance. It’s very wonderful for me to be part of Krackers.
Things have changed for me since coming to Causeway and working at Krackers. I feel like I have control over myself, and over my life. I have a lot of people who believe in me, like Michelle Ball. Causeway manager, our teachers, my friends and family and my co-workers and my boss at Krackers. Now I feel like I have confidence in myself that I didn’t feel in a long time. Like I can go to Krackers and learn something each day. I’ve learned by seeing and sometimes doing, and, you know, I’m just being me without feeling someone’s going to judge. That’s what I have experienced.
I’m most proud of making the friends that I’ve made here, me and my friends gotten close I feel like it’s about having trust, and giving big trust. It was tricky at times, some of them didn’t want to talk to me. But I showed my goofy side, I showed I’m funny. You can have my trust and if you give me 1% of your trust, that’s great, I won’t take 5%. I’ll take any percent that you feel comfortable giving to me, and I’ll earn the rest. Just being here with people, noticing them have a smile on their face just because I’m talking to them, just being here makes my day, making other people smile here at Causeway.
For other people, if you’re having a hard time, if you’ve been through some of what I’ve been through, I want you to know that it is hard. It is. But it gets easier eventually.
One of my friends is now in Solutions for Youth, because I took him. I told him that Causeway can help you, so you will no longer be struggling. I always check in on him as much as I can. I tell him “just take it one day at a time, you will be okay.” It will be hard, it will be. I’m not gonna say it’s going to be easy like that. it’s going to be hard. But you have to take it one day at a time and try to be patient with yourself, because you can’t get anywhere if you’re not patient. I had to learn that the hard way. I had to wait for years for my ID to be changed. I had to wait for top surgery, and I had to be patient. And I finally got what I wanted. I can be me.
We need to get Causeway out there more for people. I know people are struggling in life, but if they see what Causeway’s like they can come in and you guys can help them, and people will feel happier in the world, and they will give back to others. Causeway will help you as much as they can – if you need a job, they can help. If you need bus tickets to get around, they can help you with that too. You don’t have to be afraid to come in.
From where I started, to now, I have a lot of support. Without you guys, and my friends and family I wouldn’t be here. And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for every person in this building and thankful for the support of my friends and family. I believe that their energy goes into making new people feel safe and welcome. That’s what I see in Causeway.
I want this to be a chain reaction that I’ve started. I’m spreading the word, and you can too.