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A one-woman Community on a Mission

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LORAIN - When opportunity comes knocking, it may look like Fanecia Jackson.

She has been canvassing Lorain neighborhoods since 2007 with a single mission - helping people build success.

The single mother started Community on a Mission Team Support in Lorain to help people achieve their goals, even when those goals had long been forgotten.

"I knock on the door and ask, ‘How can I help you build your success story?` " Jackson said.

Surprisingly, she has yet to have a door slammed in her face, although people often want to know what she`s selling or what`s in it for her.

The answer is nothing.

So far, she is seeing results, too.

She has helped 17 people enroll in college, seen two people obtain their General Educational Development (GED) diploma and one start pursuing it, and she helped one former gang member sign up for the Navy.

She also provides rides for those who need them and even went as far as to let one young man stay with her when he needed a place to live.

Whatever it takes, she is willing to do.

Armed with information, resources and contacts, Jackson provides the 65 members of Community on a Mission with what they need to get started.

She also provides them with the motivation to keep going.

"Some of these people have forgotten their dreams or just felt like they couldn`t accomplish them anymore," she said. "If it takes someone to go out and push, then I`ll be that incentive."

When Jackson knocked on Tami Rogers` door about a year and a half ago, the 41-year-old mother of six and grandmother of three didn`t know what to think, although she did wonder if Jackson was going to try to sell her something.

But after speaking with her a few minutes, Rogers quickly formed a positive opinion.

"I thought it was a blessing that she was here," Rogers said.

With Jackson`s help, Rogers enrolled in the Ohio Business College to become a medical transcriptionist.

She`s still working toward her goal through illness and other roadblocks.

"Without her, I wouldn`t have done it," Rogers admitted. "There are a lot of us out here raising our kids on our own. There is the stress of it all and the feeling that there is no one to talk to, no friends. She came in and befriended me."

The goals of the members of Community on a Mission are as varied as the people themselves.

Some are looking to further their education; others want to make a better home for their children.

Still others are trying to overcome what Jackson calls the "single-parent stigma."

Participants are asked to start a book to track their goal.

When it is completed, Jackson provides them with an award and asks them to start a new book.

"I`ve always been a person for action for people," Jackson says. "One night, I was in my living room praying to God to tell me what he wanted me to do. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to buy a laptop and started doing this."

Armed with just her laptop, Jackson does all of the work on her own time, using her own money.

She said she hopes to work with the city to get office space so members can visit her there.

But for now, she relies on herself and a handful of family and friends who volunteer their time and money.

"I`m not going to stop in Lorain until every home is successful," Jackson said.

While her program is similar to what many social-service agencies can do, the difference is that Jackson does not wait until there is a problem or a person or family falls below the poverty level.

She wants to help everyone, and she wants to do it now.

Jackson, who works part time as a parent liaison in the Lorain Schools, has no formal training as a social worker. 

But she grew up in a single-parent home, taking care of her mother from the time she was 11, and is a single parent herself, so she knows many of the issues people are dealing with.

"My background is my experience," she said. "It`s my heart."

Rogers said she appreciates everything that Jackson has done for her.

Rogers said she has a bit of advice for any other Lorain residents who might receive that unsolicited knock on the door.

"Let her in," she said. "Let her in and talk to her. She`s very, very good at what she does. She got my spirits up. She`s kept up with me and never let me down. And she`ll keep pushing until I get there."

And she won`t give up on anyone - making monthly, biweekly and even weekly visits as the case may warrant.

Although some of her members have ended up back in jail, she isn`t ready to say their books are closed.

"This is a gift," Jackson said.

Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.



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