Ep. 11: Jackie Craig

Jackie Craig | The Green Chair Project

Jackie Craig began her career as an account executive with the John H. Harland Company. She and her husband moved to Raleigh in 1989. After working for Harland for 13 years, she decided to stay home with her two young daughters.

During her time away from the labor force, Jackie served frequently as a volunteer. In addition to being an active parent at her daughters school, she was women’s bible study leader and served in various capacities at Edenton Street UMC.

While raising her daughters, Jackie was a volunteer leader with JobStart, a program that helps integrate incarcerated women back into society following their release from prison. Through her work with JobStart, the Methodist Home for Children, and other groups, Jackie learned about the fragility of the safety net for citizens in need. She also learned while there were programs for food, education, clothing, transportation and housing, the Raleigh community did not have a resource for providing essential home furnishings. At the same time, she frequently heard friends discussing the problem of decluttering their homes or dealing with their aging or deceased parents’ furniture.

The idea of being a conduit for the community for those that had furnishings to give and those who were in need was born. Raleigh realtor Beth Smoot, shared Jackie’s interest and they worked together to start The Green Chair Project in 2010. Jackie eventually became the Executive Director, and since its founding The Green Chair has helped over two thousand families equip their homes for sustainable living. Through more than 60 client agencies, those in need come to The Green Chair after leaving prison, abusive spouses, homelessness, addiction or after facing the loss of their houses to natural disasters. No other agency in our community offers the same model of providing household furnishings in a dignified experience to every client that is served.

Jackie is married to Dr. Lee A. Craig, head of the Economics Department at N.C. State. She has two daughters, Gabie and Ellee.  She has a Welsh corgi, Gracie, and two rescue cats, Piper and Cocoa.

Jackie and I chat about giving people the dignity of choice, providing beds for children without, the founding of The Green Chair Project, and God’s leading. 2:14 The agencies identify and screen and are working with and provide assurance that these folks are truly in a recovery stage. They are able when they do get housing to come to The Green Chair for a once in a lifetime to chose a whole home of furnishings at one time.” The Green Chair started in a closet and today are in 32,000  sq. feet on Capital Blvd. and have helped thousands have a fresh start. 3:31 Jackie begins sharing her journey prior to The Green Chair Project and how God birthed the dream in her. 7:13 Jackie begins sharing how The Green Chair Project initially connected with families. Piloted with Step-up Ministry The Green Chair partners with 60+ agencies (non-profit/human service) in Wake County who can use their services. 8:32 Jackie shares what it looks like when a family shows up at The Green Chair Project. “We have a private shopping experience that we offer each client.” “There is a lot of happy tears, because having the dignity to get to choose what you want, and what you want to provide for your family is something that when you have been living in poverty you are not always afforded that experience. Choice is not common.” “It really is as much about the experience as it is about the furniture. It really is symbolic of the icing on the cake of their recovery, because they are back home again.” 11:34 Jackie begins sharing how they go about provide beds and bedding for children. A social worker from Wiley Elementary asked if TGP could provide beds.  She stated it was am epidemic. Jackie learned Wake County was filled with children without beds to sleep on. “It doesn’t occur to most of us that some people don’t have beds.” Jackie gathered data from Wake County and turned it over to NC State’s analytics department.  She asked them to analyze “how many kids in Wake County needed beds.” “Between 5 and 10,000 kids in Wake County did not have a bed and that was their conservative estimate” Now they provide a new bed, a new pillow, a new comforter, and new sheets for each child in each family they serve. They also have an outreach program.  Social workers in the Wake County school system are able to identify children who do not have a bed of their own.  They partner with The Green Chair Project who has a few bed distributions throughout the year. 15:13 “Some of those deliveries have become my most memorable experiences with Green Chair. To see a child jump up and down and be so excited about getting a bed has been really impactful for me. Think this is a day in a kid’s life that he or she will never forget.” “We can’t altar that child’s circumstances. I can’t change the environment they live in, but I can make sure that child has a bed. We can make sure that child is getting a good night’s rest, that child has a space of their own. If you are just sleeping in the floor in the living room, you don’t have a space to retreat to, you can’t go to bed whenever you want, you can’t go curl up and read a book whenever you want, you’re in the midst of that household. It’s so much more than a bed to sleep in.  It’s also a bed to call your own. It’s a bed to retreat to.” “Be His eyes and ears.” “It’s just taking one step at a time in obedience and recognizing that what we are seeing and hearing is important.  And what is God calling me to do about that?” 21:12 Jackie begins sharing about all of the volunteers that help make The Green Chair Project run smoothly. About 40% of the work is done by volunteers.  That is intentional, because TGP wants to involve the community. TGP inventory is very fluid, so they are always in need to donated furnishings and household goods.  They will come to your house to pick up LARGE ITEMS. 25:18 By the year 2020 The Green Chair Project wants to be serving 1,000 households per year. The Chairity Event A donation of $250 helps put a child in bed. “Obedience is a muscle. You have to practice it all the time to keep it working.  We forget so quickly how faithful He is.”
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