Inspiring the Glades: Tammy Jackson-Moore

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Recently putting brush to canvas for the first time in her life, Ms. Jackson-Moore said she was very pleased with her painting, which resides in her living room.

Guardians founder takes more boots-on-ground roles

BELLE GLADE — Co-founder of the Guardians of the Glades organization, Tammy Jackson-Moore has taken on some different boots-on-the-ground roles lately. She’s had to pull back a bit from some of her slew of commitments in order to make sure she can devote enough time and energy to make an impact where it counts, inside a few organizations that are getting things done to improve Glades region residents’ lives.

A private consultant by profession, she has been a community organizer and Glades advocate for over 20 years whose hard work has earned her distinctive recognitions, such as inclusion in the “Who’s Who in Black South Florida” list. She was just sworn in as one of seven Palm Beach County Health Care District (HCD) commissioners, in December. She serves as secretary of the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic Alliance of Palm Beach County (or LORE) and as chairwoman of the Palm Beach County Advisory Commission on Women, as well as on the Palm Tran Service Board, but she doesn’t plan to slack off on her close-in advocacy for the well-being of fellow residents of the Glades region of Palm Beach County. In fact, her newer roles give her more of a voice in potential innovations for the area.

One entering her home almost expects to be greeted by a “nerve center,” considering all the organizations on whose behalf she’s worked over her decades here, including the Red Cross, municipal governments and agencies such as the South Florida Water Management District. But instead the one thing a visitor notices immediately is the laid-back environment.

One of her most enjoyable pastimes, she said, is working with her sisters in the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. “Any given day, you see us don our blue and we’re out there doing things in the community, from serving senior citizens to assisting children with homework, mentoring, assisting the cities and whatever it is that they’re working on, feeding the homeless. It’s just such a rewarding experience.”

And that’s mostly for fun. She used to work closely with seven or more organizations at one time, but “I want to be a lot more impactful, so now it’s primarily only three.” The HCD post is “one of the reasons I’m pulling back … because that’s a major responsibility and I want to make certain that I’m not just sitting there warming a seat,” she said. She added her major focus there will continue to be Glades residents but she wants the HCD’s programs to make all county residents’ lives better.

Strategy for doing it all
Asked about her secret of how one makes time for so many activities, she explained that she lives in separate rooms of her house during the off hours, and in daytime, “I don’t turn on the television. I don’t want to be distracted. I start at 9 and don’t go back to the other side of the house until after 6 o’clock.”

During her upbringing in the Jacksonville area, she remembers that people needing help would seek out her parents and other relatives.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Ms. Jackson-Moore called this book her bible for how to live, “The Power of a Positive Team” by Jon Gordon, though she often consults the original Bible.

“I grew up in that type of environment where, when I was a kid, people would always come to … my parents’ and my uncle’s and aunt’s house, for help, assistance with paperwork and such. My uncle worked with migrant families. I always saw people helping and being part of that and answering questions for people, and it’s just kind of like it’s ingrained in me.”

So Ms. Jackson-Moore has always been about service. First in her life, she had to handle the struggles and conquer the stigma of single motherhood by raising four successful daughters, the youngest of whom now lives with her and is a teacher and artist.

“I was a teenage mother, had my first daughter when I was 16 years old,” she related. “I just turned 52 on Monday. I did not want to be that statistic, so I just dug my heels in and I said I’m going to be…” Her eyes brimmed. “I get so emotional about this. I just said, ‘I’m going to do this for my daughter.’” Her voice wavered. “And you know, I had a praying family, too.

“I’m a member of Inspirational Church of God. I believe that God calls each of us to carry his message in various ways and various venues … and I’m just happy that my upbringing has allowed me to be able to do that.”

Now divorced after a five-year marriage, she undertakes all her causes while keeping an eye on her four daughters, who range in age from 30 to 35. The youngest, Brandey, creates crafts, “makes all of these cups and everything,” and teaches in Pahokee. Another daughter lives in town, Chelsey, who works for Hospice of PBC in Pahokee. Courtney, the second oldest, is married to a federal security agent who works at Miami International Airport and lives in Plantation; and the eldest, Daphney, works with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
BELLE GLADE — Tammy Jackson-Moore speaks in her home office about how she had to slow down her work with some of the organizations she’d been involved with, due to a new appointment.

“So for me to be a teenage mother, I’m so excited about the successes that they’ve had.” But the rigors of motherhood mostly are behind her now. These days she births causes.

The biggest one, of which she’s most proud, of course is Guardians of the Glades, which has exerted effective influence over state policy for the past two legislative sessions, dating back to the brouhaha over Senate Bill 10. That’s a whole other story.

In her other roles currently:

• At the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic council, she keeps track of the group’s initiatives and programs and is its chief record keeper.

• Then there’s the Palm Tran board, which she’s been a member of for only three months as well. Both that and the HCD appointment were made by the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, and each is for a four-year term.

• Finally, she’s excited about her role with the Commission on Women as well, as its members “begin to look at and try to get our hands around some of the concerns that women have here in our community and our county. That’s a very rewarding appointment to me because we do a lot of good work and we have those face-to-face conversations and interactions with women who have some issues and concerns about things here in our community.”

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