A Yearning to Help: House of Ruth Executive Director Sandra Jackson
After serving two years as Director of Operations at House of Ruth, and six months as Interim Executive Director, Sandra Jackson was hired as Executive Director on November 14, 2016. Here’s some of the who she is and why she relishes this valuable and important role.
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Early on I saw myself as someone who was going to go to college – I had a track laid out for me in my mind. Where does that come from? For me, it came from my mom, who raised 5 children as a single parent. I am the youngest of those five.
She was a determined, persistent woman who did not go to college herself but she taught us all that we could do what we wanted to do. She was the matriarch of our family, as well as caring for her mom and dad when they were elderly– she took that on. My momma was my first social worker, she showed me what social work looked like.
I didn’t call it social work, but I knew I wanted to help people. I actually went to nursing school first—UDC—and I went into nursing. At some point, I decided that a better career path, that more fit who I was and what I wanted to do, was social work. I became familiar with Howard’s graduate school of social work and it was the best decision. It brought me back full circle to my mom and my yearning to help others.
I love working at House of Ruth because I do get to help people. Just last week a woman called to thank us for helping her. This woman was educated, employed and in her own home—but domestic violence was there and affecting her and her son. We serve many unemployed and undereducated women, but she shows what we all need to understand: domestic violence crosses all lines – it is not limited to people living in poverty. Because of the depth and breadth of support we offer at the House of Ruth, she is now living on her own again, and equipped with new emotional, financial and survival skills that she didn’t even realize she would need. From her and many others I’ve learned that domestic violence is always something that happens to someone else—until it happens to you.
But, as executive director, I do more than help people. I also raise funds to provide the help—and we have to talk about the shifting funding priorities and the unknowns around government funding right now. As these funds continue to shift and change, the House of Ruth cannot be beholden to those funds. Our mission cannot be compromised because of shifting government priorities. Too many women and children depend on us.