Jackson Neighbors In Need, (JNIN) was organized in November of 2008. Its main purpose was to keep people warm from November through March and not let anyone die from the cold. This idea came about because Patsy Dowling (now Patsy Davis) was working for an agency (Mountain Projects) that was helping people in the community who were having trouble paying their power bills and had exhausted all assistance with no place to turn.
One day the money came to an end. The next person in line was a grandmother trying to raise two grandchildren. Mountain Projects had to turn her away after checking with other agencies that had also exhausted all their resources. Rumor has it, that night homework was being done by candlelight and somehow the house caught on fire. The grandmother and the two children died in the fire. That absolutely broke Patsy’s heart. So Patsy and Bob Cochran, Director of the Department of Social Services at that time, with Charles McConnell, a friend concerned about people, got together and formed Jackson Neighbors in Need (in the beginning called Save the Warmth). The purpose of this group was to help people when they were out of money and in a bind, to keep the heat going when it was cold.
The group met monthly and raised money so that funds would be available during the winter season. The program was expanded to include shelter for the homeless, and weatherization of people’s homes (plastic on windows and other minor repairs). All the work was done by volunteers so that every penny collected went toward the needs of the clients.
Mountain Projects handles the money for the group. As the years have gone by, a few necessary expenses (like audits), have been paid, but still very little of the funding goes for such. The members of the JNIN Advisory Board are from area agencies, churches and appointees from the commissioners. The support comes from individuals in the community, churches, grants, the Town of Sylva, the County Commissioners, the Colony Club in Cashiers, etc.
The first year the group spent about $50 per household and served about 25 families. This last year the group served 58 people in the homeless shelter at a cost of $33,476.68 and served 73 families with heat at a cost of $16,171.84. Not a lot of weatherization was done this last year because a few years back Mountain Projects received monies that paid for repairs to the homes in Jackson County. JNIN works closely with other helping agencies in the community like Department of Social Services, United Christian Ministries, Community Table, and Mountain Projects.
For more information about Jackson Neighbors in Need or how to volunteer, please call 586-5561 or go to jacksonnieghborsinneed.org and click on the “Get Involved” tab.