Welcome to another installment of our ‘Behind the Scenes at ATC’ series. Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to Angel Baten, our newest Supportive Services Counselor. Angel recently joined our team and is already making a significant impact with his unique background and heartfelt dedication to our mission.
Angel comes to ATC with a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the complex issues facing our community. He also brings with him a passion for being a proud representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Angel sat down to share his thoughts on what makes ATC unique and how he envisions contributing to our ongoing projects and initiatives.
Q: Tell me a little about your background?
I was born and raised here in California. Before coming to ATC, I spent the last 4 years as an Assistant Supervisor working for an organization helping to provide supportive housing and services in San Francisco. During that time, I was also in school working to get my certification in Community Mental Health.
Q: What brought you to ATC?
One thing I’ll never forget about my work with my past organization is it represented a position that offered me a second chance. I had some personal challenges I was overcoming, and it was an opportunity to work and build up some skills. I’ve never forgotten that, and it’s something that I hold on to pretty dearly.
So when I heard about At The Crossroads and the mission behind ‘meeting people where they’re at,’ it struck a chord with me because that’s something that worked very well for me. If I could offer that same chance to others, I know it could do the same. One of the things I’ve learned in my journey is “you can’t keep unless you are willing to give it away.” And this is why I’m here. To be there for others as others have been there for me so freely.
Q: What makes ATC unique to you?
The intentionality of the leadership team and how thoughtful everyone here is about what is needed to be successful in the work we do. Everyone is willing to make time and space to maintain healthy balances. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced in other jobs or organizations.
One thing that took me a while to realize was the unhealthy asks that different organizations I’ve worked for had for employees. Once the day was over, it was quite often that I was taking work home with me in one capacity or another. In this type of role, it’s also so common to have something go wrong and to immediately think, “OK, that happened, just deal with it and move on and keep doing your work.” So far here at ATC, even if something minor happened during outreach or a 1:1 conversation with a client, it’s so normalized to be given a space to talk about it before moving on. It’s super different. It’s super cool.
Also, I love how volunteers are so engaged here! We might not have a lot of volunteers, but the ones we do have, come back and support us because they feel appreciated and they care deeply about the work that we do. We’ve had some volunteers who have been here for 5-10+ years! It makes me feel good to be a part of that work!
Q. Anything that has surprised you so far?
The level of autonomy here is also pretty unique to this role. I’m used to having some kind of supervisor constantly watching over me and my work. But here, there is a deep level of training that happens at the start, and then there’s a level of trust that you can operate without the fear of making mistakes. What makes that so reassuring is that’s the same kind of space we like to try to create for our clients. We try to ensure they always feel like their choice and control are never being taken away. It’s not often you see that practiced so organically internally and externally.
Q. What do you feel like you uniquely bring to the team?
There’s a lot of diversity here and skillsets that make up this team. It’s something that I love! I think it’s always important that certain communities are represented in organizations so that individuals of those communities who may be potential clients can naturally feel a little more sense of comfort and belonging.
It’s also very important for the people we serve and the wider community to see that members of the LGBTQ+ community can hold roles like mine and work in this field. I feel like I am able to bring my full authenticity to this role every day, be proud of it, and hopefully be a beacon to others as well!
My story is one of resilience, having to deal with housing insecurity, bouts of addiction, and mental health issues, but looking back and understanding how important a long-term unconditional support system is to those going through similar struggles amplifies why I feel like this is the kind of work I belong doing.
Q. What message do you have for the community to help better serve our mission?
One thing I think we can all do is just talk about it more openly. Ask ourselves tough questions about what it means to prioritize the needs of our clients. We must be more open to creating safe opportunities for young adults to get the non-judgemental support they need.
It’s important to know people don’t need to be aged out by a certain age. People of all walks and backgrounds need support sometimes, and every situation looks a little different. If we can open our minds and sit with the idea that many short-term programs don’t necessarily work. Long-term unconditional relationships are what truly count as impactful support. If more people can start talking about this and engaging with this idea, I think it can create a movement in our community.