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Honoring Jack Jackson this St. Patrick's Day

Although we lost one of our best friends, Jack Jackson, to complications of pneumonia in 2006, our 21st Annual Bringin’ in the Green wouldn’t be complete without his presence. Every year at the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Jack dressed as the party’s mascot leprechaun, soliciting funds for MCC’s programs and distributing shamrock stickers to donors. If you attend the party on Friday, March 12, you’ll no doubt notice the (almost) life-size poster of his likeness that we display every year in his honor.

Jack will forever be remembered as a friend who lent his time and talents to the organization as a volunteer, fundraiser, and Honorary Board Member. In addition to his work for Montrose Counseling Center, Jack organized Houston’s first care team for persons with AIDS in 1982, initiated America’s first safe-sex pamphlet in 1983, participated in the Walk for Unity in 1984, and co-founded the Stone Soup project of AIDS Foundation Houston in 1985. Over the years, he received multiple community awards, including the Diana Foundation’s Award for Service to the Community in 1986, the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service from Kathryn J. Whitmire in 1990, Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade in 1991, EPAH’s Community Service Award in 1992, Houston Black Tie’s Humanitarian Award in 1995, MCC’s Stella Scott Community Service Award in 1998, and EPAH’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. “The bottom line,” said Jack, “you’ve got hands. They might as well be helping hands.”

Even in the years since his death, Jack’s service to Houston’s GLBT communities continues. His life and experiences were the inspiration for MCC’s Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years (SPRY) program. As Jack grew older and his health started to deteriorate, Jack was hesitant to accept services. Afraid that as an openly gay man he wouldn’t receive quality care, Jack was reluctant to bring help into his home and he refused to enter a convalescent hospital, unwilling to spend the last years of his life back in the closet.

SPRY also works with local senior service providers to train them to better meet the needs of the GLBT individuals they serve. When this training began, some service providers had never considered that some of their patients were GLBT. One said, “We don’t have anyone gay here. Our patients are too old to be gay.” The need for SPRY was never more apparent.

SPRY began in October 2005 with a three-year grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Now that the grant funding has ended, the program is able to continue uninterrupted because of the generous support of donors like Bringin’ in the Green hosts John Danielson, who opens his beautiful home to attendees, and Dwane Todd, who donates and prepares the delicious hors d’oeuvres. Because of their donations, 100 percent of the funds raised at the event goes directly to client services. Their support, and that of the event’s sponsors and attendees, allows us to continue providing services not covered by government grants.

Please join them in sustaining programs like SPRY by supporting Bringin’ in the Green. Tickets are $30/$25 for seniors and may be purchased at the door or online, with “BITG” as your designation. Sponsorship opportunities range from $50 – $5,000 and include tickets to the event. For more information, click here or call 713.800.0872.

At the party, be sure to visit the poster of Jack, where you can pick up a shamrock sticker in his honor for a cash donation.

To read the 2005 Outsmart article about Jack Jackson’s work as a super volunteer of Houston’s GLBT communities in honor of his 80th birthday, click here.

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