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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Eric Jackson wins Roper St. Francis' most prestigious honor, the President’s Humanitarian Award

NORTH CHARLESTON (Aug. 13, 2014) – Eric Jackson, an equipment tech at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and a mentor for teenagers from troubled neighborhoods, has been named the 2014 President’s Humanitarian Award winner, the highest honor Roper St. Francis bestows on a teammate.

“For this man, ‘healing all people with compassion, faith and excellence’ is a mission carried out well beyond the walls of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital,” President and CEO David Dunlap said Tuesday before announcing Jackson the winner and handing him a $5,000 check during Leadership Development Institute at Trident Technical College. “After a full day on the job in the OR, he goes home and spends his evenings and much of his weekends working with at-risk teens in downtown Charleston. Our Humanitarian Award winner is a model Roper St. Francis teammate and an exceptional human being.”

Jackson, who friends and colleagues call “Big E,”  said the R3 program that he created never blames those responsible for the violence on Charleston’s peninsula but rather builds up teens and offers them opportunities to succeed.

“To God be the glory,” Jackson said in an emotional acceptance speech. “This award isn’t about the money. It’s about the recognition (for R3).”

Given once a year, the President’s Humanitarian Award recognizes how a Roper St. Francis teammate lives his or her life. The award considers not only the quality of their work, but how they have gone above and beyond their day-to-day jobs to care for their fellow man. This year, Jackson received more nominations than any other teammate. Words used to describe him included: “awesome team player,” “a self-made man,” “exceptional role model” and “he IS our mission and our standards of behavior.”

When all five former Humanitarian award winners gathered recently to discuss the nominees, each winner picked Jackson as their top choice.

Jackson joined Roper St. Francis in 1999 after serving in the Navy. At Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, he rose through the ranks, and he’s now responsible for all operating room equipment. On nights and most weekends, he mentors kids, coaches boxing and basketball, and stresses the importance of working hard in school, staying active and eating right.

“You might wonder: what drives a man to invest so much time and effort for the sake of strangers, for awkward teenagers, from neighborhoods that have been overlooked and, in some cases, left behind?” Dunlap said. “Because that’s where he came from.”

Jackson was born and raised on Charleston’s East Side, and his family often struggled financially. He started R3, which stands for “Real Talk, Real Action, Real Results,” because he saw the need for teens to have positive role models who would build their self-esteem and self-work.

R3 also provides a safe place for teens to read, do homework and receive tutoring. Jackson’s enthusiasm for R3 and guiding teenagers has become a family passion. His wife is the organization’s CEO and their two sons spend much of their free time at the organization’s center. His brother-in-law, David White, Sr., who looked after Jackson while he was growing up, is also an active volunteer, and David White Jr. serves as R3’s chief operating officer.

“The one thing that always stands out about Eric is the size of the man,” said his supervisor, Pam Smith, who has worked with Jackson for 10 years. “He has a heart as big as he is.”

During Tuesday’s ceremony, Jackson’s wife, two children and his brother-in-law entered the auditorium, surprising Jackson. While Dunlap spoke of Jackson’s accomplishments, Jackson bowed his head and wiped his eyes, prompting his youngest son, 9-year-old Zihaire, to run across the auditorium to hand his father a handkerchief and hug him.

Jackson’s wife, Kimberly, said recently that although everyone calls her husband “Big E,” she has her own nickname for him: “the Gentle Giant.”

“I told him the other day: ‘You have a heart that is out of this world.’ ”

About Roper St. Francis
Roper St. Francis is the Lowcountry’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare provider. The healthcare system has an active medical staff of more than 800 doctors representing every medical specialty, and it provides services in more than 100 locations in seven counties.  Learn more at www.rsfh.com.

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