“Everybody has a story. That story may be about defeat, depression, hardship or something else. But we all need champions.”
A community service project in high school ignited a spark in Jackie Godlock that set her on a path to helping those with disabilities.
“As a teenager, I started working with Special Olympics,” explains Jackie, “and just found myself being closely connected to individuals who wanted to have a sense of normalcy regardless of what their differences were.”
A graduate of Ashworth College and North Carolina’s Leadership Department of Health and Human Services program, Jackie has devoted more than 25 years to community service in Rutherford County and surrounding areas, focusing especially on enhancing inclusionary opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
“Everything about my life has always been about working with those who had different learning styles and abilities,” says Jackie. “My job is about giving people the tools to be the best ‘them’ they can possibly be.”
She has served the last 15 years as a business relations representative for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, covering a four-county area to help people remove barriers to meaningful employment. With domestic abuse, poverty, drug abuse and accessibility to quality health care challenging those in the area, there are people walking through her door every day needing help.
Recounting one particularly memorable story, Jackie said, “One day, a woman came in who had been contemplating suicide. Her husband had left her and her kids, and she thought they would be better off without her. There were a lot of obstacles in her way to the life she envisioned.”
But Jackie helped her go through her list of obstacles and eliminate them one by one through vocational rehabilitation and community resources. She went on to finish her degree, advance in her job, and now she and her family are thriving.
Jackie’s history of community involvement includes serving on the board of trustees for both Rutherford Regional Hospital and Isothermal Community College. She also serves as an ambassador for Rutherford and McDowell County Chamber of Commerce and as a mentor for The McNair Educational Foundation, which fosters college and career awareness, readiness and success for all students in Rutherford County.
Mentoring students has taught her about looking at the whole person and the whole situation. She’s learned to ask questions, but also to pause and wait for the story. And then help them get the tools they need.
“It’s not just about having conversations,” says Jackie. “We also need to get in the trenches and walk through it with them. That’s something I’m hoping to do as a part of the Dogwood Health Trust Board.”