Jackson Community Center, founded by Elizabeth Campbell, strives to help educate the community.

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

By Krista Salter

The Orange Leader


Elizabeth Campbell believes that the “turbulent times of the Civil Rights era did not dampen the community spirit of African Americans growing up in Orange.”

She said she fondly remembers the dedication of the civic leaders and educators as the “nucleus of her childhood experience” in the city, before growing up to become a banker elsewhere.

In 2009, Campbell returned to Orange to create the Jackson Community Center, a nonprofit organization designed to be the catalyst that transforms local neighborhoods – and lives.

Since then, Campbell said funding through a partnership with United Way of Orange County has ensured a dedicated team of staff and volunteers carry out the organization’s programs, designed to assist and uplift the community, year-round.

Campbell described the mission of the Jackson Community Center as being three-fold: to revitalize Fifth Street and the surrounding area “weakened by long-standing blight and disinvestment;” to raise the quality of life for the residents of the area; and to attract even more nonprofit organizations to serve the needs of the communities and residents in Orange.

The Jackson Community Center has worked since its creation to fulfill their mission by offering several different community service programs, focusing on local youth and young adults.

“Giving young people personal attention through mentor-mentee relationships will aid in building their self-confidence in the classroom and on the job to soar above their challenges and equip them with the skills they need to transition from youth and young adults into a successful future,” Campbell explained.

The organization offers community service programs to the youth and young adults in the area that focuses on building a future not only for them but for the community, according to Campbell.

Money management, employment readiness, and academic assistance are all part of the program, offered year-round to adolescents in the community. They include life skills and career development workshops, after school and summer tutoring sessions and enrichment activities like gardening, Campbell said.

For 16 to 25-year-olds in some of Orange’s underserved areas, life skills management workshops provide information on independent living, parenting skills, money management, effective communication and nutrition, and wellness to support the future residents of Orange.

The youth vegetable garden, planted and maintained by children of Orange, teaches the youth not only to plant and take care of their vegetables but serves as a tool for teaching about responsibility, commitment, and teamwork.

Campbell said partnering with United Way and the assistance of other local organizations has paved the way to begin a capital funding campaign to build the Jackson Community Center its own physical location, as well as a computer lab coming in 2019 to offer workshops for older adults.

Campbell said, “Through programs and workshops, and with a team of dedicated staff, volunteers and funders, the Jackson Community Center has formed a new nucleus of support that together is lifting up communities and their residents in Orange.”