Discovering The Drop-In Center
Back in the early month of July. I came across the discovery of the drop-in center which is a incognito comfy tight knit space located right off South Maryland Parkway and Almond Tree Lane.
I never knew that this space even existed so let me tell you a little about this safe space and how I became a volunteer staff and later got on board as an official member of the Las Vegas TransPride Planning Committee this year and hopefully for the next years to come.
When I first stepped into this safe space, I immediately felt a deeper connection to the drop-in center and with Rev. Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou, who is one of the first trans woman to be ordained in the ministry after transitioning (Mary Magdalene Friends UCC) , and whom so happens to also be the Leader/Founder of the Las Vegas TransPride non-profit organization.
I recalled the first time going down to this space, I took Lyft, all dappered up and just got off work. I was running about 5-10 minutes late feeling nervous and anxious to participate in my first bi-Thursday meetings for Las Vegas TransPride, which is a six day event every year on November 15th to November 20th, to celebrate transgender individuals.
A colleague had told me about this non-profit organization and the planning committee who needed more members to join so I decided to check it out but little did I know, I grew attached to this safe space and fell in love with what it had to offer to the Transgender Community.
Upon getting to know Jamie and her husband, David Ballou, along with the senior committee members; Bobbie Miller, Barbara Jean Jasen, and Annamarie Walsh, I saw that there was much needed work among our Transgender Community and that this space needed to be known!
In early September, I made the commitment and dedication to attend most of the meetings and events because I was determined to contribute and make a difference there. I see so much potential in this safe space to grow, expand, and succeed.
A Little Back Story of Rev. Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou & The TDOR Wall Display & The Birth Of Las Vegas TransPride
Jamie first created the Transgender Day of Remembrance Wall Display project, which is a collection of data based on the victim's names, age, residence, date of death, cause of death, and profile of all the transgender individuals who had been murdered just for living authentically as the being they are. She created the wall to commemorate and remember all the precious lives that were lost due to the results of bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, gender discrimination, and heinous hate-crimes against transgender individuals especially towards trans women of color.
Jamie felt that they never had the honor of a proper burial and some had no marked grave stones so this wall is a memorial of each and every victim's resting place. Every time I look at the wall and closely pay attention to the age of those who were murdered, it deeply saddens me, as some among the many victims that had been killed are as young as 16 months old.
It was in these moments of empathy for the tragedy, the loss, and sadness that Jamie created the non-profit organization via Las Vegas TransPride, which became an alternative outlet to positively celebrate all lives of transgender individuals who are still standing, who are alive, and thriving today.
Las Vegas TransPride was created for the soul mission and purpose to bring all transgender individuals together. To stand strong as a Transgender Community in pride, unity, and solidarity as well as to spread awareness, educate one another and others, share our stories, be visible, be active in the fights for our transgender rights to exist in public spaces, be supportive, and be connected to one another. No transgender person is ever alone on their journey!
When It Comes To Stepping Up & Taking Initiative...
I recently took it upon myself to take initiative and assisted Jamie during the mid months of September to work on some digital graphics design work for the drop-in center and create some flyers and postcards to help promote this year's Las Vegas TransPride 2017 events and Transcending The Gender Box such as planning Trans Youth Night which is an event that I will be hosting on Monday November 20th at Game Works in Town Square.
I have also volunteered to help open and close at the drop-in center when and if the other senior voluntary staff members needed to be out either sick or need some time off. After about 2-3 months of volunteering my time at the drop-in center, visiting, and utilizing the space as much as I can as well as spending my free time socializing with Jamie, David, and the senior staff members, I strongly felt like I wanted to do more for our Transgender Community so I did take extra steps for the drop-in center such as offering my professional photography and graphics design services for free (no charge) for Jamie.
I didn't feel comfortable taking funds from the space as I felt that the space needed every penny to help those who are really in need among the Transgender Community especially transgender individuals who are facing unemployment and homelessness.
On Thursday September 28, 2017 during one of our bi-Thursday committee meetings, Jamie had asked, "Kan, would you be interested in becoming a member of our board?" I immediately replied, "Yes, of course. I would be honored!" At first I wasn't sure if it meant officially so I had asked, "Like officially?" Jamie nodded, "Yes, officially!" Now in order to be on board of the Las Vegas TransPride Planning Committee, one must dedicate the time to come to the meetings to help plan the events, and as far as I know, the drop-in center has become my secondary home.
I am literally there most weekdays, about 2-3 days a week to be exact shifting between Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday depending on my work schedule. I use the space mostly to focus on projects for the drop-in center and finding better ways to get other transgender individuals and allies to come utilize this space.
The Drop-In Center Welcomes All Transgender Individuals & Allies!
I recommend everyone who is LGBTQ+ identified to come check out this space if you have never been here before.
While it is solely operated by an open and friendly transgender staff of volunteers such as Jamie, David, Annamarie, Bobbie, and myself, who are willingly and voluntarily giving of our free time to keep it up and running to cater the needs of other transgender individuals, we absolutely welcome all LGBTQ+ identified individuals to drop by whether it is just to visit or hangout, have a gathering, hold meeting or events, create social activities, get resources, reach out and connect, or create private groups.
This is a really safe space for everyone! Jamie, myself, and our entire voluntary staff members will make sure that this space continues to be a safe space, accessible and available to all, stays up and running, and remains extended out to everyone within the LGBTQ+ community as well as to all our lovely allies, both transgender and cisgender persons alike.
For more information about the drop-in center via Transcending The Gender Box/Las Vegas TransPride and location, hours of operation, events, or groups, please check the main website: https://lasvegastranspride.org/
Thank you for reading my blog!