The Jackson Center: Crossing borders with service

Dollie Hinch in her living room.
Dollie Hinch in her living room.

Chapel Hill resident Dollie Hinch’s first interaction with The Jackson Center was about the practicalities of Thanksgiving dinner through the neighborhood’s monthly newsletter, the Northside News.

“The newsletter would arrive at my door, and every issue would have a person answering a question,” Hinch said. “My question was, ‘If you don’t want to cook Thanksgiving dinner, where is a good place you can go buy it?’”

She said she got a very helpful answer, although she couldn’t remember what it was now.

“I probably just got it from K&W,” Hinch said.

It was the beginning of Hinch’s relationship with The Jackson Center. Over the year, Hinch was eventually able to obtain help from the center in writing wills and house repair.

The Jackson Center, located at 512 W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, is an organization that seeks to build and renew the historically African-American communities in Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhood. Both neighborhoods share a border with the town of Carrboro.

Adwoa Asare in front of Hinch’s house, directing volunteers to the worksite.
Adwoa Asare in front of Hinch’s house, directing volunteers to the worksite.

The organization’s projects include a food justice program that provides groceries to families, community development initiatives that gather residents and local organizations to improve their neighborhood, youth training programs, and the monthly Northside News that is distributed to members of the community.

Their services often cross the border of Chapel Hill into Carrboro.

“Community is not something that you can put geographic limits on,” said George Barrett, coordinator of organizing and advocacy. “So the kind of work we do often stretches past the geographic limits of the Northside neighborhood.”

An example would be The Jackson Center’s Fusion Youth Radio. High school students from Chapel Hill and Carrboro apply to be part of the program that teaches them how to produce a radio show.

The students’ production airs every third Sunday of the month at 5 p.m. on WXYC (89.3 FM).

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, a nonprofit that aims to provide affordable housing, often partners with The Jackson Center to work on house repairs, particularly with the program “A Brush with Kindness.”

The program offers exterior home repairs for families based on need. Homeowners are only required to pay for the material costs based on a sliding scale of their income, which can be from 10 to 75 percent of the costs.

“With this program, we work throughout Orange County, but we try to focus on certain neighborhoods which includes Northside and Pine Knolls,” said Adwoa Asare, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County’s community development manager. “We do exterior home repair and accessibility renovations such as ramps, new decks, painting the house, cleaning up the yard and replacing broken doors.”

Helping people in need

Hinch is one of the participants of this program. Her house is located in the Pine Knolls neighborhood, right at the edge of Chapel Hill. She first noticed the program three years ago, but never got around to applying for it.

An accident earlier this year forced her to take action.

“My husband had a fall outside on our deck,” Hinch said.

He broke his hip, and has been in the hospital since August. But the problems don’t stop there.

“He’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and there’s no cure,” Hinch said. “The person who left in August is not quite the same person coming back, so everybody has to adjust to that.”

George Barrett working with a volunteer to build a door.
George Barrett working with a volunteer to build a door.

To help with his mobility in the house, Hinch needs to build a ramp and widen the doors so his wheelchair can have access.

“There are a lot of expenses that have to do with the changes in the house, but luckily ‘A Brush with Kindness’ came through in good time and reduced those expenses quite a bit,” Hinch said.

Hinch and her husband are retired. Based on their income, the family only has to pay 20 percent of the total cost.

The home repair service will officially come to Carrboro in spring 2015 as the town has decided to provide funding and support for the program, Asare said.

“We’re looking forward in spring to do repairs in Carrboro,” Asare said. “The town has made the decision to allow some funding to be put towards the repairs.”

Hinch’s husband was due to be discharged on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s very exciting, but also kind of anxious,” Hinch said. “He’s been out of the household for three months, so everybody has to get acclimated.”

This year, she still would not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

“Most likely, we’ll go and buy the meal from one of the restaurants around the area,” Hinch said.

Author of the article

"Nat" is a staff writer for the Carrboro Commons. She is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.