Connor came to Juma with more than his fair share of challenges. Growing up in the foster care system as a transgender male had been not only difficult but, at times, dangerous. Being part of the system also made it challenging to fit in a job and balance it with other priorities like school and meetings with his counselors and social worker. Yet Connor knew he needed a job to gain experience, as he was expected to support himself when he aged out of the system. He also needed to pay for school expenses like his cap and gown so he’d be ready for graduation.
For Connor, Juma provided stability, income, and a support network as well as the flexibility he needed to maintain a job. “At Juma, even when there were no games to work at the ballpark, there were workshops and things I could go to so I was always connected.” He learned skills like money management and resume writing and started saving money for his long term goals. After he mastered the basics of professionalism and customer service, Connor’s Juma Program Coordinator helped him transition into an internship with Skate Like a Girl, an organization dedicated to social justice and empowerment through skateboarding. At Skate Like a Girl, Connor mastered new skills while retaining his Juma support network.
Through his time in Juma’s social enterprise and his internship, Connor’s confidence grew. “I’m grateful that Juma approached work differently and provided a supportive space and access to resources.” In the future, Connor will attend college where he hopes to major in Theatre. He aspires to become a voice actor and continue his advocacy for representation and awareness for the transgender and foster youth communities. His coworkers and the Juma Seattle staff have no doubt that wherever he chooses to go, Connor will be a relentless force for positivity and inclusiveness, and an asset to his community.
Juma: Noun/joo-ma/ 'Work' in multiple African dialects.