#GivingTuesday Series: Meet Jackie

Each week as part of our MCNW Giving Series leading up to #GivingTuesday, we will share with you personal stories from donors and volunteers highlighting why they give to and believe in Mercy Corps Northwest.

Our second installment in our #GivingTuesday Series highlights Jackie; a former client at the Reentry Transition Center (RTC) who is now an impassioned advocate for formerly incarcerated individuals.

jackie-instagramThe Reentry Transition Center (RTC) lies on busy Martin Luther King Blvd, in the Lloyd District. Its effacing exterior is a sharp contrast to the wall that directly faces it. The wall, colorful and covered with geometric designs, has in large blue letters the words “Rise Up”. Words that aptly embody the spirit of Jackie Whitt and why she gives to Mercy Corps Northwest.

As a former client, she knows, better than most, the power of the RTC. By supplying immediate resources like clothing and hygiene products to long-term resources like one-on-one counseling, the RTC aims to build a pathway to a successful life transition out of prison. Often, formerly incarcerated individuals don’t know where to begin and are stuck in a state of limbo after release. Jackie says “Mercy Corps Northwest helped me define barriers and overcome them” and adds that Mercy Corps Northwest provided her a sense of community, which made her transition possible. Being personally familiar with the hardships and stigmas that follow former incarcerated individuals around, it was the ‘compassion and care’ that this newfound community gave her that fostered her belief that she could lead a better life.

Now as a volunteer at the RTC, she wants to give back and help others succeed like she did. When asked about her favorite memory while volunteering at RTC, she was hesitant to pin-point a singular moment because there were too many. Eventually, she decided upon her involvement in speaking engagements. She takes advantage of anytime she’s given the opportunity to share her story with the aim of building empathy and awareness for people in similar circumstances. “I am excited anytime people are affected by my words and want to learn more. I want to inspire” she says. With much enthusiasm, she describes the people at RTC as, “Strong and insightful people. Our adversity becomes the cause we’re passionate for.” These characteristics and drive are visible when she talks with them on a one-on-one basis; another aspect of her volunteer work that she cherishes.

During this season of giving, Jackie wants to remind people that the RTC’s  “hands-on direct involvement [approach] to tackle barriers”is what distinguishes it as a successful tool for people to get back on their feet—and is always eager to use herself as a prime example.

“People who fall through the cracks find success at the Reentry Transition Center and in starting a new life. I am an example.”

It’s her passion to inspire and help others that has propelled her to want to pursue a career working at non-profits. In giving her time, she has discovered volunteering is a two-way deal: through helping others, you help yourself.

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