Jefferson Award Recipient: Ronnie Jackson

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Devoting your life to children isn't just a career, it's a calling and Ronnie Jackson is one person who answered the call.

His talents and gifts are perfectly suited for making a difference in the lives of young people because Ronnie not only the heart of a child, he has the children at heart.

When, or if, Ronnie Jackson ever retires, there'll be some big shoes to fill. His replacement would have to have an endless amount of energy, dedication and love for kids.

"Both of my parents did a lot of volunteering in the community, church and so lots of times we tagged along and did kind of whatever they were doing. So it was just kind of a part of how I was raised," said Jackson.

As a Bryan ISD HOST mentor, something he's done for 17 years, Ronnie does more than just help a kid read, he teaches them respect for others and themselves. He does it by speaking their language and never giving up on them, even if they feel everybody else has.

"I don't think you'll find anybody more passionate about youth," said Bryan Deputy City Manager Hugh Walker. "And it's also, it's not just youth, it's at-risk youth. The ones we sometimes forget about. He really encourages them to reach their full potential."

Ronnie's commitment to kids ranges from the classroom to the courtroom and his work with Voices for Children, a legal advocacy group. He's also involved in Project Unity, MHMR, Family Solutions and Concerned Black Men.

"Some of us come in and say well we'll do this volunteer act here or we'll do this volunteer act there but Ronnie just every day it's been about giving of himself to others," said Jeannie McGuire, Project Unity.

But Ronnie doesn't see it that way. "No matter what they think they're receiving out of my time and attention, it pales in comparison to what I get in return."

While his daily routine could leave a 20-year-old gasping for breath, Ronnie keeps plugging away. As long as there's a kid or family who needs him, his work isn't done. "I once heard a council member say that Ronnie Jackson is the hardest working man in the city," Walker said. "And he's probably right."