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Celebrating National Volunteer Week: Edi Castro (JASMYN)

April 17, 2023

For National Volunteer Week, April 16-22, United Way of Northeast Florida asked the community to nominate outstanding volunteers to be recognized on our blog and social media. Congratulations, Edi! Hear from Edi and why she is passionate about giving back through JASMYN.


Describe the person or event that inspired you to give back to the community?
Meeting Cindy Watson at one of the first JASMYN houses inspired me to get involved. Seeing the difference she was making to keep LGBT+ young people safe got me started as a volunteer taking hotline calls in the late ’90s.  It was an eye-opener for me to help young people who needed love and support. I was in a good place in my life and realized serving others was something I was called to do.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect about volunteering?
Knowing young people have JASMYN to turn to for a safe space and caring staff that provide support and resources with lots of love is worth it! As a board member, being a part of working to keep the “doors open”  is very rewarding.

Describe the moment you realized your volunteer efforts were making a real difference.
When we had an opportunity to buy the first JASMYN house in 2006. I knew we would leverage that opportunity to always have a permanent safe place for young people! Being a part of that step was monumental in making young people feel like they had their own place!

Why is it important to you to help communities who are often overlooked?
This is my community, and I know how it feels to be overlooked. Giving back to young people at JASMYN helps them become confident and proud adults. Volunteering at JASMYN has done the same for me. I am proud and appreciate all that our LGBT+ community has to offer.

What does it mean to you to “Amplify Good” (United Way’s tagline)?
As a founding member and co-chair of the JASMYN Coming Out Day Breakfast event for almost 18 years, it makes me feel like were spreading the word about JASMYN’S great work. Together, we have multiplied and grown as a caring community of allies from the corporate, business, nonprofit and larger Jacksonville community.  When you tell the JASMYN story and provide compelling stories that are happening all over the country — from phenomenal LGBT+ people and allies — everyone listens. It is a heart call to get involved!

Interested in becoming an outstanding volunteer like Edi?  You can find a variety of community service projects all year long at United Way’s Volunteer Hub. Have any questions about volunteering with United Way and our partners? Email volunteer@nulluwnefl.org.