By Maria Gurovich for The Island Connection
One of four siblings, 48 year-old Chuck Jackson was raised by a single parent in Charleston’s Eastside public housing located on Johnson Street.
“Growing up in the ‘projects’ was hard,” remembers Chuck. Early in his life, there was a sense of community in the neighborhood. However, by the late 80s, when illegal drugs became available, the living situation got rough.
“People (living in the projects) always got shot, but now (in the late 80s on) they got shot for different reasons and with bigger guns,” remarks Chuck.
None of the siblings finished high school. Although Chuck talks about having a rough life, he stresses that he chose “the streets” over doing something else. Not everybody ended up like him.
One of his best friends was able to get out of projects and now owns a successful heating a cooling company in Boston, MA.
Chuck was never homeless, which he attributes to his mother, who passed away at 67 in 2012.
“My mom came to the Neighborhood House to receive help. She dug through the trash to put clothes on our backs.”
Although Chuck doesn’t like to blame anyone for the way his life turned out, he admits to not having a positive male role-model or real direction in his life and following the footsteps of guys who made quick money on the streets.
Throughout his life, Chuck struggled with substance abuse, but stresses that he never used crack cocaine or heroin. He decided to change the direction of his life, after some troubling events. For the last nine months, Chuck has been working as a cook at Jake’s Café on George Street. Chuck has a 19-year-old daughter, Destiny, whom he sees once a month.
Now he tries to stay healthy by keeping busy, working, staying physically active riding his bike, and volunteering with the Our Lady of Mercy Neighborhood House’s clothing room.
“I volunteer to help others, of course, but also help myself keep busy and stay out of trouble,” said Chuck with a smile.
Editor’s Note: Volunteer Spotlight is a column in The Island Connection highlighting members of the community who give their time to help others. If you know of a volunteer who deserves the spotlight email email@example.com.