When, in 1968, Joy Jackson, her husband, and children moved from California to Decatur, there were no organized summer activities for Mrs. Jackson’s daughters.
The two boys had options, but not the five girls. Mrs. Jackson was not deterred. She had each of them invite a girlfriend to their home in Oakhurst and, in the downstairs family room, Mrs. Jackson engaged them in activities from sewing to crafts to games.
The following summer word was out that there was a great place for girls to get together and suddenly there were 15-20 girls in the family room for two to three weeks.
Having outgrown her home, the activities moved to a bungalow in Oakhurst, then to Oakhurst Presbyterian Church. All along, Joy Jackson oversaw what became the Decatur/Dekalb Girls Club and eventually became part of the Boys and Girls Club of America and now resides within the Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club in Oakhurst. Until 1994, Mrs. Jackson spent countless hours working with other community organizations to bring in activities, experts, and entertainment for the girls. This also meant summer employment for 75-100 young adults who worked with them. And not just anyone would be hired by Mrs. Jackson. They had to be ‘clean cut,’ respectful, and hard working. She taught them discipline. To this day, many of them see her around Decatur and thank her for giving them their first job.
Although she became an area director over 5 clubs in the metro area, Mrs. Jackson’s heart was always with the day-to-day engagement with the girls. She was honored by the City of Decatur in 1994 with a proclamation of the Joy A. Jackson Youth Service Day.
Even after ‘retirement,’ and during the time she was caring for her ailing husband, Mrs. Jackson was called back to fill in when a director unexpectedly left one of the clubs. With her commitment to that complete, she agreed to stay on as a consultant until 2002.
Her home has been filled with her children and grandchildren and she has been caregiver to ailing relatives. Eventually, it was time for Mrs. Jackson to accept help or, as she put it, ‘You give and you get back.’
Six years ago, the MLK Service Project assessed her home and brought in volunteers to build a ramp to her kitchen door to make it easier for her to bring groceries inside, insulated the attic and pipes to improve energy efficiency, and repaired a toilet. According to Mrs. Jackson, the volunteers were ‘genuine, sweet people’ who put ‘everything’ into their work. She thinks of them every time she brings groceries back from the store.
Asked if she would like to move back to California, Mrs. Jackson smiles and proclaims she ‘would never leave Decatur.’