“Every morning it’s still not reality to me,” Jackson says of her new home in Poolesville. “My life has changed. The kids are able to have peace of mind and start looking forward to their futures, instead of worrying what’s going to happen day-to-day.”
In 2004, Jackson was a single mom of four getting by on a mall security guard’s salary when she promised her sister Cassandra, who was dying of complications from cancer, that she would keep her 10 nieces and nephews out of foster care and together.
Unable to afford permanent housing, Jackson and her 14 children were forced to live out of a Rockville hotel. Their situation went from bleak to hopeless when Jackson was told if she didn’t find appropriate housing, she’d have to give up the children to foster care where they would be split up.
Montgomery County interceded, deeding Jackson a piece of land with a house but the home needed major repairs.
“The day ABC was suppose to knock on our door was the scariest,” Jackson says. “You have your children there, knowing today is suppose to be door-knock day, but what if they went to another family?”
For Jackson and her family, Chesapeake Closets, a family business based in Baltimore, donated and delivered a job worth more than $10,000 in four hours. In four rooms for 14 kids, a Chesapeake Closet crew created a vital aspect of the house — as much storage and closet space as possible.
“At the end of the day, my crew and I were free to leave, but we didn’t want to,” said Chesapeake Closets president and founder, Steve Black. “There was an amazing feeling there in the air that’s hard to describe. You couldn’t hold it, but you could feel it. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of something.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling watching people come together,” Jackson said. “And they still stop by and leave notes saying just wanted to see how thing we’re going.”
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
7 p.m. Sunday on ABC