Jacqueline Gibson was born and raised in New Orleans, and the Tremé/Lafitte area has been a special place to her all her adult life. “When I got married, that’s when we moved on over to Governor Nicholls,” recalls Mrs. Jackie. In telling her story, it was evident that much of the way she gives back to the community was influenced early on through her volunteer activities. Today, she’s the current President of the Faubourg Lafitte Tenants Association (FLTA), a tenants’ advocacy group in the Faubourg Lafitte neighborhood.
When her children were young they attended TCA Headstart where Mrs. Jacqueline volunteered in the classroom. One day a teacher at the school asked her if she had ever considered being a teacher. The question lit a spark within her to teach and nurture the youth of the community. She completed her coursework at Delgado and for the next 25 years she was instrumental in shaping and influencing young lives in the community through teaching at the Preschool in St. Peter Claver Church.
Like many families in our community, Hurricane Katrina took Mrs. Jackie away from her city and her neighborhood – first to Atlanta and then to the West Bank. While she appreciated being back and close to family, she just didn’t feel like the West Bank was “home.” When her family heard there was an opening at St. Ann Apartments on Ursulines, she was more than eager to return close to her neighborhood.
Being an active part of the community is something that has always been important to Mrs. Jackie. She is an advocate for residents of St. Ann’s Apartments and represents them on the board of the Faubourg Lafitte Tenants Association, where she is currently serving as president. She thinks the most important element of leadership is teamwork.
“Everyone has a role on our board,” she explains when referring to how she delegates responsibilities among members. “I try to put people together on teams who have skills and personalities that will be successful for the work. Everyone has something to give.”
During the past few years, Providence staff members have been working with the FLTA to help empower their efforts, providing all the resources they needed to be a strong and new kind of residents’ council – one that incorporates all residents of the Faubourg Lafitte community. NeighborWorks America generously provides training curriculum for residents’ councils through their three-day Community Leadership Institute. The institute aims to strengthen the voices and skills of community, resident and volunteer leaders by sharing best practices and solutions to the many common challenges faced by low- and moderate- income communities. Participants from around the country attend in small groups and take a full range of courses where they create an action plan for making positive change in their community. The purpose of the FLTA is “to serve the needs and interests of Faubourg Lafitte tenants and foster a forum for education and civic engagement.”