The Village Volunteer

Gratitude drives Kerri Jackson Case as she participates in many community projects, including Raise a Glass for Gladney, a fundraiser for the Gladney Center for Adoption held November 6

By KD Reep

 

Kerri Jackson Case and her son, 8-year-old Jackson. | Photo by Dixie Knight

Kerri Jackson Case and her son, 8-year-old Jackson. | Photo by Dixie Knight

If you haven’t heard of Kerri Jackson Case, your home may be under a huge, overhanging boulder. Case is everywhere—a popular blogger (she is the notso-evil genius behind Drink Sleep Be Kerri), a public relations practitioner and adoption advocate in addition to a volunteer with her church and community.

Wife to Charlie and mom to Jackson (or Monkey Boy, as she affectionately refers to the feisty 8-year-old), Case’s approach to life is to wake up every morning with gratitude. “The main example I’m concerned about is the one I show my son,” Case said. “I want him to learn gratitude at home so he can practice it when he goes out into the world—I learned gratitude from my parents. But more than anything, gratitude motivates me to get involved.”

Among all the issues and causes in which Case participates, Raise a Glass for Gladney, a fundraiser for the Gladney Center for Adoption, is her favorite. Case says Gladney is unique in the adoption community as it has an endowment to provide services that are not always available to birth mothers in other places. “Through this endowment, birth moms are provided food, housing, clothing, medical care, legal services, educational services and counseling pre- and post-adoption through Gladney,” she said. “Adoptive families pay for the adoption costs, but the endowment makes sure birth moms are provided everything they need. It’s a holistic approach to adoption for both families.”

In celebration of National Adoption Month, the Arkansas Gladney Family Association will host this wine tasting and live auction to benefit the Gladney Fund. Raise a Glass for Gladney will be 6-9 p.m. at the Arkansas Arts Center on November 6. For tickets or more information, visit http://GladneyArkansas.com.

Adoption is particularly close to Case’s heart, as her son is adopted. However, the wealth of other causes and issues for which she and her family contribute their time, talents and money is vast. When asked why she prioritizes community service in her family, Case gets right to the point.

“I’m basically a crazy person with an overactive guilt complex, and I volunteer to keep that in check,” she said. “Mostly, though, I really believe every single one of us can do something that makes our corner of the world a better place.” “Charlie, Jackson and I are not the kind of family that can make large donations or endowments. There will not be hospitals or schools named for us. (I’m still holding out hope for a bowling alley one day.) However, we do live comfortably, and what a waste it would be for us to use all our resources on only ourselves. So we make it a point to look around our community and see where the holes are and fill as many as we can.”

Another service with which Case helps is coordinating birthday cakes for kids in foster care. Her church, Pulaski Heights United Methodist, partners with the southwest office of the Department of Human Services to provide a variety of services for foster children. Case is instrumental in coordinating people to make birthday cakes for these kids. “Everyone should have his or her own cake for birthdays,” Case said. “It’s the least we can do.”

Throughout the year, Case “helps pick up the slack,” as she says, for a variety of other causes and nonprofits. “Each year, I assist families with the sign-up process for the Salvation Army Angel Tree, and we make family trips to the Arkansas Rice Depot a couple of times of year to pack food for people who live with food insecurity,” Case said. “We also assist with food pantry deliveries from our church, and I volunteer at my son’s school for a variety of tasks. One of the things I get a lot of joy from is co-directing Listen to Your Mother: Little Rock. A portion of those proceeds go to The One, a rescue resource for homeless families.”

While this schedule may seem daunting, Case says she learned the power of organization and keeping up the pace from the Junior League of Little Rock.

“In my time there, some very dear friends modeled for me how to add volunteerism to my priorities, along with family and work,” Case said. “Drawing from a group’s skills and talents is almost always better than trying to do it all by yourself. I’m really grateful for the women there who are doing so much to make our community a better place to live and work.

“Also, none of us achieves anything truly on our own. There are countless teachers, church members, community leaders and family friends who, along with my parents, invested in me. I would be living a very different life if it weren’t for the accident of my birth into a family and community who cared about the next generation. That’s not the kind of thing you can really pay back. So I pay it forward.”