Jae Edgar Bennett
Founder of Street Medicine KC
Jae Edgar Bennett was a fearless, innovative, and authentic man, who worked tirelessly to take care of people. Drawing from his service in the Navy and early career navigating corporate healthcare systems, Jae took the leap in 2014 to establish a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on the needs of the most vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness in Kansas City. As a person with his own mental health challenges, Jae understood the realities and circumstances that many of his clients faced, and connected with them to build trusted relationships. Jae sought to know and serve people who so often in society are overlooked. In his own words, "You have to meet the people where they are physically and mentally to get anywhere."
The non-profit became known as Street Medicine KC, a chapter of the larger Street Medicine national network. As Executive Director and Case Manager there, Jae solidified his commitment to providing vital medical and psychological services directly to those living on Kansas City streets. Jae's energy was contagious, and over the years, he built a supportive network of volunteers and partners to enact the mission. His passion and enthusiasm could be heard in board rooms, hospitals, non-profit agencies, and the streets themselves. He was a fierce advocate, calling for a smarter system that works better for the people it serves. He was never afraid of the "boots-on-the-ground" work required so often of him.
Jae Edgar was a pioneer for the people, and of-late, was developing software to revolutionize community health called "JOYYN". If you were ever in a room with Jae, you'd witness him taking a call at any hour, coordinating a ride pick-up, prescription call-in, or apartment deposit for countless clients who communicated directly to him, 24/7. After 5 years operating mobile medical & mental-health services, Jae secured a physical location for the organization at 8th & Paseo, expanding today to offer 4 exam rooms, dental services, clothing closets, and showers. At SMKC, Jae established HepC & HIV rapid testing, drug-user triage on weekends, as well as IDs, showers, housing, and other social services for his clients. Jae was also instrumental in creating community health services 5 days a week in Wyandotte County. During the pandemic and below-zero temperatures this past year, SMKC continued to offer warming rooms and shelter when most other providers' doors were shut.
A man who would proudly state, "I only read the red words in the bible," that is, the words directly from God, Jae was someone you count on showing up, 100%, as his honest, authentic-self. Call him for a favor, a wild night on the town, loud karaoke, or a trip across the world... Jae would be there.Jae was of proud Belizean-descent, and before all else, a loving father to his daughter, Ava. For his dedication, trust, and commitment, Kansas City will be forever changed.