Staff Reflection: Jacob Lerner

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During my first week at the Jackson Center, I was first introduced to Keith Edwards and Jane Farrar.  During my second week, I went to a Neighborhood Watch meeting where I met Kathy Atwater, Janie Alston and Anita Booth.  Those relationships I have built and continue to build are what sustains me.  These folks are the people who inspire me and make this community so incredible.  Since I began, I have been in a play on the School to Prison Pipeline with Kathy Atwater, I watched the first game of the UNC football season with Matthew Fearrington and got destroyed in a game pool by him, despite him claiming it was luck.  I was treated to a wonderful lunch at Kathy’s house with Janie, Anita and Keith, I ate some of Joe Alston’s wonderful short ribs, and received a tour of Paul Caldwell’s wonderful garden! Elaine Norwood wants to be at every party and is always loads of fun!  Teresa Shaw’s children are always talkative and looking to help pass out the Northside News.  Every week or so, I call through our precinct captains to see how everything is going and I look forward to hearing how calm the students around Estelle Mabry have been this year, especially since we went individually to each of their houses to introduce ourselves at the beginning of the year.  I look forward to seeing Paris Miller and hearing her ideas for initiatives. She even connected me with an awesome lecture on race and privilege in Hillsborough that we went to together.  Anyone who comes to the area must meet her son, Jordan Amir, because he has to be the cutest two year old I have ever met!  I look forward to hearing from Jane Farrar and getting updates on how everything on Sunset is going and seeing if we can find tickets for the UNC sports games for her husband, Clarence Farrar.

However, as Hudson says, community is everyone who works, plays, lives, and worships in Northside!  And the folks I have gotten to know extend far beyond some of the above folks who live here.  I have played Spades with Corey Edwards and his wife, who pick up the leftover food from Heavenly Groceries every day for the farm they work at.  Whenever possible, I try to sneak down to Heavenly Groceries next door to continue to be inspired by the folks from the church who volunteer every day to make sure the food ministry runs!  Ms. Gladys is always looking on the bright side of things, even if the freezing rain made the Food Lions we get donations from lose power, “we just have to make lemonade,” and just move on because things are out of our control.  Ms. Billue is there every day and scolds me when I don’t visit for a while.  Mama Kat is the life of the party and always make sure every new student volunteer feels welcome.  Seeing Hollywood and Brentton joke around always lightens up the mood, and Ms. Lillian is the sweetest woman I have ever met!

These people I have been lucky enough to get to know are incredible and I haven’t even mentioned the Jackson Center staff!  Hudson always is so focused figuring out how to make sure everything flows, everything is getting done, yet simultaneously putting all of us on his back and giving us support.  Elizabeth has a way of helping facilitate though and just synthesizing what we say and making sure it makes sense!  Della always comes in, brings in an excitement and always has a million ideas for us to try! Kai is always good for advice if I want to see what she thinks of one of my ideas.  Jasmine is so good with Fusion Youth Radio.  The couple times I sit in the same room as they work, I am inspired by how she interacts with them and gets them thinking about their topic. And Brentton!  Not to downplay anyone else, but he is the person who keeps me going every day.  He always seems to be in a good mood and our friendly joking, and seeing his love for the work, regardless of how I feel each day, makes me happy to be there!

My time at the Jackson Center can best be described through these people I have been lucky enough to meet and I hope you all come by and hang out in Northside because nothing beats this community I have started to get to know!

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