Feel-Good Friday: Dr. Kimberly Jackson Receives 'Woman of the Year' for Her Work With Alabama's Homeless

Dr. Kimberly Jackson (Credit: Crossroads Community Outreach)

Dr. Kimberly Jackson started Crossroads Community Outreach in 2015 with her twin sons, Jordan and Jayden, as a way to help the forgotten and marginalized in the community of Florence, Alabama: those who are on the street, and those experiencing crisis. It acts as a bridge organization, helping those who do not fit the criteria for traditional homeless services or where no services exist that meet the person's specific needs. From their website:

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At Crossroads we realize peoples' circumstances do not always fit the mold of most organizations. We are here to bridge the gap. Our goal is to meet people at whatever crossroads they may face in life & create our service plans accordingly. We believe this process begins with providing any emergency & life sustaining needs such as food, water & shelter.

Over its eight years of ministry, the organization's reach has extended to the other three cities that make up what is called "The Shoals" -- Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals. 

Because of this important work, Dr. Jackson was awarded the "Shoals Woman of the Year" prize on August 29. 

According to the 2021 strategic plan of the Homeless Care Council of Northwest Alabama, Alabama has one of the lowest homelessness rates in the country. However, they estimate that 3,351 persons, including children, experience homelessness. A large number of those homeless individuals are veterans, because Lauderdale County, where Florence is seated, is home to a VA clinic, cemetery, and a range of outreach services to veterans. I can attest that this homelessness is not very visible. In Los Angeles, you can't walk a block without someone soliciting for money or avoiding a rambling individual in the street. While that type of brazen openness has its own problems, it does make you aware that a problem exists.

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In her acceptance speech, Dr. Jackson challenged the audience.

I ask and challenge everyone that is here today. Take a look at the people that are in your community that might not be in your church, might not be in your circle, and lend a helping hand.

So true. Just because there is no open sore, doesn't mean there's not a wound, and awareness of those in need outside of our families and spheres of concern requires a bit of vigilance. 

Unlike the Homeless Industrial Complex™ in counties like Los Angeles, where "Founders and Executive Directors" of organizations like Crossroads Community Outreach rake in six-figure salaries while homelessness balloons, for Dr. Jackson running her organization is not her source of income or a job—it's a ministry. Dr. Jackson has 25 years of experience in human resources and accounting, and runs her own consulting firm which offers Christian counseling, case management, and business and strategy consulting. 

But she carries over all those skills into helping those who, for whatever reason, need a hand up and to be pointed in the right direction. From the award received and the powerful word-of-mouth within the community, it appears her organization actually does the work of not just meeting emergency needs, but assisting people on the margins by setting them on a journey of stability and success. When people reach out to Dr. Jackson and Crossroads Community Outreach for help, they become active partners in the process. 

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Dr. Jackson said: 

Even in your brokenness, if you want to be whole, you will find your well and your source to get your healing. 

The proof is in the pudding.

Bravo and congratulations to this hometown heroine.   

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