Jackson receives Humanitarian Award
Photo: Joan Perry/Roper St. Francis
Eric Jackson, a human services student enrolled at Southern Wesleyan University’s Charleston learning center and an equipment tech at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, was named the 2014 President’s Humanitarian Award winner, the highest honor the system bestows on an employee.
Jackson was recognized for his dedication to mentoring teenagers from troubled neighborhoods. Jackson is the founder of R3 Inc., an organization whose name stands for “Real Talk, Real Action, Real Results.”
“For this man, ‘healing all people with compassion, faith and excellence’ is a mission carried out well beyond the walls of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital," said David Dunlap, the healthcare system’s president and chief executive officer.
Deeply moved when he learned he was being recognized, Jackson said “to God be the glory.”
To be honored in such a way was “a total surprise,” according to Jackson, who thought he was there to make a presentation about R3 Inc. for Trident United Way.
R3 Inc. is a labor of love born out of Jackson’s own experiences growing up on Charleston’s East Side in a home “that had holes in the floor, roaches in the wall, a broken stove and often very little food in the refrigerator.”
Jackson isn’t interested in pointing fingers to blame others for problems; he is committed to “stepping up” with solutions. From the beginning, he has wanted to help teens who were at a disadvantage socially, economically and academically, and he has a message, “school can be cool,” that he backs up with educational, fun activities.
R3 Inc. has grown to serve more than 120 youth, from 8 year olds to teenagers. Their latest project, according to Jackson, is establishing a new teen center dedicated to promoting education and fun in a safe environment for the youth of Charleston. Another program, “Kids Cook,” promotes healthy eating habits for youngsters. Jackson said their focus is not only on teens but now on “bridge” programs for 8-12 year olds. In addition to tutoring and sports, R3 Inc. has taken youngsters to Gibbes Art Gallery, Sky Zone and rock climbing at James Island County Park. Jackson wants to organize trips where teens served by R3 Inc. travel out of town to visit colleges and other destinations to expand the view of the world around them.
“Just seeing that the community we’re serving understands what we’re doing and is supporting us from the ground up, having the parents’ and grandparents’ support – having the kids come in and participate – the most important thing is the community sees we’re genuine and dedicated,” Jackson said.
Jackson says family members never question the need to get up early in the mornings or to come home late because of hours spent volunteering.
”My family is a part of R3 Inc. We pray together. My wife teaches Sunday school, and we take some of our participants to church on Sunday,” he said. “We just want to let people see that we can work together as a family to help our community.” Jackson’s wife, Kimberly Perrineau-Jackson, who earned her master of science in management degree from SWU, serves as R3 Inc.’s CEO.
Jackson maintains that putting God first is the key to his ability to balance his work at Roper St. Francis and R3 Inc., with church and his studies at Southern Wesleyan. Now working on his human services degree at SWU’s Charleston learning center at 4055 Faber Place, Jackson sees both spiritual and professional benefits from being in class at Southern Wesleyan.
“We start class with devotionals; I use that for my focus during the week. It gets me deeper into the word,” Jackson said. “Professionally, a lot of the courses I’m taking help me understand how to work with my team in R3 about programming,” he said.
“The faculty and staff have been so supportive. They make sure your schedule fits your busy life. Professors who have knowledge about human services share so much vital information in their experiences,” he said. Jackson credits one of his professors, Dr. Ronald Dickerson, for giving him grant-writing ideas. The professor is also considering becoming a board member for R3 Inc.
With regional education centers conveniently located across South Carolina, as well as fully online programs for select degrees, Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, visit swu.edu.