Elizabeth Campbell: It Takes a Community

Published 12:12 pm Saturday, April 9, 2016

By Tammee Greer

The Orange Leader

“It takes a village to raise a child,” is an old African proverb, has been said by so many people. However, it takes a healthy, educated village to join together in teaching and raising the children to be fine, upstanding and educated citizens of the community. The Jackson Community Center in Orange strives to do just that. Therefore, living up to their logo, “Lifting Our Community Together”.

In fact, the community hosts a garden for the local children on 5th Street in Orange. They grow tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, squash and green beans. Volunteers teach children how to tend the garden. Not only do the children learn to take care of the garden, but they learn life skills such as, teamwork, listening skills, and how to handle responsibility.

After harvest time, the children get to take the fruits of their labor home to their families and give excess to the community. What a way for children to learn to give.

Jackson Community Center (JCC) is temporarily located at 520 W. Decatur Ave (off of 6th Street and Decatur), #107in Orange. The hours are Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.   Sometimes, the hours are different and include some Saturdays, depending on which events the center is hosting.

The idea of the Jackson Community Center was birthed by Elizabeth Campbell. She is the executive director of the JCC and is in charge of seeking out and applying for funding from various sources. She is currently seeking to acquire capital funding to build a permanent facility for the JCC on 5th Street, where the children’s garden is located. She is also searching for grants to fund the programs the JCC desires to provide.

The JCC is also accepting donations of any kind and any amount in the forms of financial donations, equipment, furniture and supplies. Donations can be sent to the address listed above or, for larger donations, such as furniture, Elizabeth Campbell can be reached at the JCC at (409) 779-1981.

An important service Jackson Community Center offers is free income tax service for individuals with an income up to $54,000.00 per year. The income tax service is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact Elizabeth Campbell at the phone number listed above.

A native of Orange, Campbell had moved away after high school and returned to Orange after Hurricane Ike upon her retirement. When she returned she noticed the needs of the families and children of the community of Orange. So, she started the Jackson Community Center and began a garden for the children. She is also expanding the center’s programs to include a senior program.

The new facility, hoping to open by the end of 2017, would like to provide the teaching of life skills such as money management, effective communication, time management, home maintenance, child rearing (how to discipline) and healthy eating (alternatives to fast food)/meal planning. It will even offer a graduation from every class attended by an individual. They’d also like to continue the Career Development course for the kids and teenagers, usually offered during the summer.

The Career Development course is designed to teach children to set future goals and come up with the most logical ways to meet them. The children make a “Vision Board”, which has pictures cut out from magazines, books, etc. showing images of what they would like their lives to be like in the future. Then they map out how they plan to reach the life they want, such as high school, college, etc. It’s a great way to keep the children focused on their future.

The JCC is always accepting donations of any kind and of any amount, especially now in the aftermath of the flood. The Jackson Community Center is going to be an avenue for the people of Orange to get things they need. Everyone’s generosity is appreciated at this turbulent time. There are several ways to donate: their website address is jccorange.org, mailed to the address above or the phone number of the JCC. A reminder of the address and phone number of the Jackson Community Center are 520 West Decatur Ave, #107, Orange, Texas 77630 and (409) 779-1981.

Also, sometime before the building of the new facility, Campbell has said that there will be a fundraiser selling bricks to honor someone special to you or have your family name on it to be included in the construction of the new facility.

Campbell has such a passion to give back to the community, because she was so blessed by God to give each of her three daughters a good education. In fact, all three of Campbell’s daughters have doctorates in their fields of expertise.

Campbell mentioned as she thought about the community center, God said, “Do not be afraid of the community.”

After all, everyone needs significance.

One of Campbell’s favorite things to do is read real stories of how God has touched other people’s lives and she loves to sit in her beach chair setting in the water at the beach while feeling the water cascade and pool around her feet. Perhaps, one day, she’ll be sitting in that same beach chair reading a true story of how God touched someone else’s life through her.