Kelly Jackson serves as Executive Director of a non-profit organization called StandUp! For Change, which was derived from her childhood. Kelly’s grandmother was a community caretaker. They spent most of their summers cleaning peoples’ houses, yards, laundry. What they did during those summers… something took root. Kelly started a neighborhood project, and it has turned into a non-profit. Now they are full-fledged in the community helping the homeless.

Interview Q & A

1. What is your business/Business Name?  What does your charity do?
StandUp! For Change – We provide outreach services, we provide education; and we have other initiatives. We focus on the homeless within the youth community. We teach classes, service the kitchen, prepare packages and distribute those. I Rise, teaches them to be leaders through service. They have something intrinsic to each of them. They painted a 15X20 foot mural at the City’s largest homeless shelter. We have a winter initiative where we collect hats, coats, gloves, scarves. It’s called, Campaign Cover Me. We are located in Cleveland, Ohio.

2. Why did you get into this field?  What opportunities did you see?
I went through college, and got my undergraduate and masters degrees. I worked in a college, and felt the constant tug, and answered the call, and this is where it led me.

3. What have been your biggest challenges?
Funding – I think it’s the biggest challenge for any non-profit. But we get it done. The need is there. We have homeless shelters that are overflowing with people who need service.

A lack of awareness about the community. There are so many myths and misconceptions about the homeless community. 

4. What has been your greatest reward?
Being able to help, and see the smiles on people’s faces. Seeing the expression on people’s faces when you come. Knowing that you’re doing something important. That’s especially important for the kids because of the transient nature of homelessness.

5. If you could change something, what would it be?
I would eradicate homelessness completely. The fact that we have a country this abundant in resources, the fact that we have people sleeping on the sidewalks is mind boggling.

6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be?
Just do it. I think you have to walk into your purpose without any restraints or inhibitions.

7. Social Media.  Yay or Nay?
Yes.  We use it. We show tidbits of what we’re doing. We have to be careful of what we post to not show faces. We share a lot of stories of what’s going on within the homeless community in the country.

8. How do you market your service?
Word of Mouth. We started at the city’s largest shelter. A lot of community members know about what we do.

9. What is unique about your charity?
I think… We are fiercely dedicated to the people we serve. We are on the ground, in the middle of our community. In the middle of winter, in a snowstorm, we’re handing out blankets.

10. How can people get in touch with you?  What’s your website/Contact information?
They can go through the website.

We’re also on social media – Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

11. Anything else?
Meal project, “Operation Beautification” —  We took youth down to feed meals to the homeless population. One of the youths said, “This is depressing Kelly”.  I asked the youth what they thought we should do, and they said, “We should paint”.  It led to an awe-inspiring mural. In addition to it meaning so much to the men in the shelters, it meant so much to the kids who were participating.