Mrs. Adraine Jackson-Garner is a pillar in the Clemson Community. She was born and raised in Clemson, attended Daniel High School, then went to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. After college, she moved back to Clemson and eventually started Littlejohn Community Center (LCC) with some other women of the community. Today, Mrs. Garner tirelessly works to apply for relevant grants, establish relevant programming, and recruit community members to the programs offered by the LCC. She even organized a turkey giveaway of 200 turkeys this past Thanksgiving! This past summer, she oversaw the service of thousands of meals to children in the community. Her vast network of community friends and resources makes her the perfect person for this award. Below are the ways that Mrs. Garner embodies many of the service areas that Dr. King emphasized:
Service to the Upstate Community
Mrs. Garner, as executive director of the LCC, identifies and applies for grants that will fund programs that serve the Clemson and surrounding communities. She then oversees the execution or directly executes the full functions of each of these programs. These programs include Club Edge summer and after school program, TRiO Educational Opportunity Center, Summer Feeding Program, GED program, Financial Literacy Program, Job Readiness Training Program, Teen After-School Center (TASC), various community events, and many more! These programs meet the educational, physical, and financial needs of the Clemson community’s children, students, young people, and parents. In addition, some of these services — such as TRiO Educational Opportunity Center — reach beyond Pickens County and into the entire Upstate of South Carolina, providing needed educational support, application support, essay revision, FAFSA advisement, and counsel.
Advancement of the Beloved Community
According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Beloved Community is “A community inclusive of all people, regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity… A community that recognizes people as individuals first, each with a unique set of life experiences that shape their particular perspectives… A community where these varied perspectives are brought together in a collective effort to achieve goals for the common good.” What a wonderful definition of true community and a vision for us all to strive towards. Mrs. Garner has been able to establish a beloved community within the LCC and its affiliated organizations. She includes people of all races, genders, ages, and socioeconomic statuses within the programs and activities of LCC. Recently, she has partnered with Goodwill to bring in workers over 55 years of age to contribute to the daily operations of the center.
Service Above and Beyond Direct Employment
Everything that Mrs. Garner does is “above and beyond” She lives within walking distance of the center, so she is always available to meet the needs of the community that arise. She does not work normal 9-to-5 hours, but so far beyond that. She is constantly trying to predict the needs of the community and identify grants that could help to meet those needs. She advocates for those who are not able to advocate for themselves by mentoring young people personally as well as partnering young people with mentors.
Though she wishes only to showcase the positive impact created by the center — as she is extremely humble about her phenomenal work — unfortunately (for her), she is such an integral part of the center, it would be impossible to honor one without the other. So we’ll pile on that she was also awarded the Clemson University Martin Luther King Day Award, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Community Service Award.
Mrs. Garner has four lovely grandchildren. She and her husband, Elmer — who supports all her work at the center — love to travel. Her parents, Sylvester and Ella Jane Jackson are active supporters at Littlejohn Community Center, along with her sister, Cynthia Jackson. She as has a great team of employees – Michelle Norris, Emily Winburn, and Amy Bowens-Preston.
Now, because she’s never not working, she gets the final word: “Please encourage people to seek out education help and support, free GED classes, and food assistance at Littlejohn Community Center!”
Please join us in congratulating this 2019 Upstate Black History Maker!