As a proud military community, Tampa Bay is home to a brave population of children that not only demonstrate the highest patriotism but also the most steadfast adoration for our armed forces as they refer to them as “mom” or “dad.”
The month of April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the sacrifices of the sons and daughters of our troops as they, too, serve our country. KNOW Tribe members and leaders of the local nonprofit organization Jackson in Action 83 Foundation (JIA83), Lindsey Jackson (founder) and Allison Gorrell have worked together with military families since 2012 to focus on their children.
As a military sister myself, I am inspired by their efforts to strengthen our community around these kids so that Tampa always feels like home.
What inspired the creation of your organization and how do you help local military families?
Jackson: After moving to Tampa in 2012, Vincent (Jackson, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer) and I knew we would call Tampa home for years to come. We wanted to set our roots and build our lives here. As a military child, Vincent moved several times for his father’s Army career. He wanted to build a foundation to provide support to those families affected by all the challenges military life can bring. As a teacher, the education piece was of utmost importance to me, so our Danny Dogtags books and the Salute to Reading program at local schools is near and dear to my heart.
How has your involvement impacted you personally and your family?
Jackson: Philanthropy is a staple of our family’s mission statement. We both grew up with parents who volunteered regularly, and we want to continue to instill those same values into our children. Through our work with JIA83, we have met so many kind, supportive, genuine people on and around MacDill. We feel so fortunate to have such a strong, connected community to work with on a daily basis.
What can local families do to help support the mission?
Jackson: The mission of the JIA83 Foundation is to provide support to military families, focusing on the educational, emotional and physical health of the children. We welcome the community’s support through financial and in-kind donations that will allow us to continue our many programs for military children and families, including scholarships for military dependents and veterans, our Military Moms Baby Shower and our annual summer camp for military children on MacDill.
What are your favorite things to do as a family in Tampa Bay?
Jackson: We have four kids under six years old, so it’s difficult for us to get out and about. When we do leave the house as a family, we love going for walks and bike rides around our neighborhood, having pool parties at our house and walking to our neighborhood park. You can always find us at the Hyde Park Fresh Market on the first Sunday of every month. It’s one of our favorite traditions.
What makes this community so special to you?
Jackson: The southern hospitality is so warm and inviting. In California, we only knew one of our neighbors. People didn’t interact much. You could pass someone walking on the sidewalk and not receive eye contact or a wave. The first two weeks after our move to Tampa, we had met all of our neighbors who came to introduce themselves so genuinely. They even hosted a neighborhood welcome party for us! We also are blown away by the philanthropic nature of Tampa. People are so generous and engaged in the welfare of the community.
*Photo credit: Ashlee Hamon Photography
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Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.