In the month of August, Jackie Henderson passed away. Jackie was a greatly loved staffperson at the Coalition on Homelessness, in the Family Rights and Dignity project. She most recently worked for Riley Center, outposted at the CalWORKS office where she tirelessly assisted women affected by domestic violence.
Jackie touched countless numbers of us in her community work to alleviate homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and mental illness among families.
Jackie leaves behind two sons, Jaron (17) and Markyle (13).
Please contribute money to a fund for her two sons. Tax deductible donations can be sent to Coalition on Homelessness, 468 Turk Street, SF CA 94102 (write “for Jackie Henderson fund” on the memo section of the check).
The following is a tribute to Jackie written by Malika Saada Saar, co-founder of the Family Rights and Dignity project.
A TRIBUTE TO JACKIE HENDERSON
Years ago, giants walked this earth. The African-American writer, James Baldwin was among those giants. At his funeral, Maya Angelou read these lines.Great souls die,and our reality, bound tothem, takes leave of us.Our souls,Dependent upon their nurture,now shrink, wizened.Our minds, formedand informed by their radiance,fall away.We are not so much maddenedas reduced to unutterable ignoranceof dark, cold caves.And when great souls die,After a period peace blooms,Slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind ofSoothing electric vibration.Our senses, restored, neverto be the same whisper to us.They existed. They existed.We can be. Be and be better. Because they existed.
Jackie Henderson was also a giant, a great soul, who walked among us. It is because of Jackie and her indomitable spirit that we are, and that we are made better.
Jackie exuded radiance. She believed in the presence of joy and love when the rest of us were locked into dark rooms of cynicism. It was Jackie who summoned up her best parts to give to others, to help other mothers struggling to make their lives different. It was Jackie who reminded us that transformation was always possible.
Jackie joined the Coalition on Homelessness’s Family Rights and Dignity project while diligently working to complete her bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State. When I first met Jackie, she told me, proudly, that she wanted to make her life meaningful, that she wanted to give hope to families like her own, and that she knew she possessed the abilities to be a pit bull advocate for the Coalition. Jackie proved herself to be a fearless, dedicated, and loving advocate for the Family Rights and Dignity project. Her smile, her beauty, her steely determination, and her courageous perseverance defined how Jackie moved in the world and how she worked for a better life for herself and others.
Now that our beloved sister is on the other side of glory, we are left to make sense of our lives without her. Perhaps Jackie’s spirit was too good, too loving for this world and its abiding ugliness. But Jackie, I think, would say otherwise. I believe that Jackie would ask that we honor her life and her legacy by insisting that we love our mothers and our children, that we hold sacred our lives, and that we work for the dignity of our families who have been forgotten and left behind.
Each of us was blessed to know and to be loved by Jackie. She was our heart. We ask the angels above to take her and to love her because her giant, gentle soul embodies the best of who we are and seek to be.