One of Us

Dr. Helen Jackson

Posted

Tell me about Women of Color Cultural Foundation.

The purpose of the foundation is to address the unmet needs of people of color to eliminate disparities in health, education and economic development and other areas that affect equality for our common good.

Annually, we have the Heart of a Woman Luncheon, and that is a forum that addresses cardiovascular disease in women, because we know that one out of every four woman dies from cardiovascular disease. And for people of color, that number significantly increases.

So, we have speakers like cardiologists, pharmacists, dieticians, licensed clinical social workers, financial planners come in and talk about all aspects of the heart. And how we can better take care of our hearts.

Another thing that we do in the health area is something similar but for women’s health and addressing issues like cancer and diabetes and obesity, because we also know that these are health risks that impact people of color twice as bad as it does any other population.

As far as education, we’re very focused on our young people. We have a Universal Teen Scholarship Program every year where we promote global awareness by focusing on issues that impact our young people: their leadership skills, their communication skills, their ability to have real-life skill management tools to work with throughout life. We also address issues related to their inner beauty and inner worth.

Since the initiation of our program in 2000, we have managed to give out over $170,000 in scholarships to young people going off to college.

We have several individuals who have gone off to become doctors, managers in different companies. Some have started their own businesses. We have two Ph.D’s and about five master’s degree finishers.

Of the people that have begun and completed our 10 weeks of training in the Universal Teen Scholarship Program, we’ve had a 97% success rate of those finishing college.

We also take about 1,000 to 1,500 youth to the zoo every year.

We were the first program to start addressing the issues around 9/11 and how that impacted New York and all the military personnel, firefighters and also our police officers and medical staff. We started recognizing the importance of first responders.

For the 10-year anniversary, we worked with the sheriff, the chief of fire and rescue, all of the different components of the military and the medical profession, bringing them together and honoring them on Sept. 11.

Every year, we do that in conjunction with giving back to the community. One year, we had 3,000 bags of groceries donated. On behalf of the first responders, we gave those to needy families.

Another year, we cleaned up the cemetery down on Union Street because it had been neglected. In areas around the military folk who have lost their lives, we did a special tribute and cleaned up their gravesites.

We do a lot of different things to make a difference in our community, because we truly believe in giving back.

Tell me a little about your background.

I grew up in Detroit from very humble beginnings. I’m from a family of four. My father was a factory worker at Ford Motor Company, and my mother was a teacher. So, I grew up there, got married, moved down here to Florida.

I retired as the director of nutrition and chronic disease from the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. I am a pastor with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. And I sit on various community boards. Right now, I am president for the Jacksonville Women’s Network and currently serve on the board of directors for Leadership Jacksonville.

What do you like most about living in Ponte Vedra Beach?

I love the area, I love the people, I love my neighbors and I love the beach. I love walking on the beach. It’s such a thrill. It’s a nice community to be in. It’s a nice community for families.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Believe it or not, I love traveling … Been to Antarctica. Been to Africa, Europe, Asia, South America – just all over. Been to the Holy Land, which is the thrill of a lifetime.

If I get an opportunity, I’d love to go and stay at the Ice Hotel. It’s over in Greenland. So, between Greenland and Iceland, you know, that area is not well-populated, but it’s something that intrigues me about being close to nature and able to see things in their original state.

And I love reading. And I love walking.

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