Lessons Learned | Jackson had never envisioned himself being on the receiving end of a helping hand, but when his house was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was forced to rethink his priorities. What made it easier was the help came from a group of 15 former Xavier classmates he calls his “band of brothers,” who contributed a sizable sum toward the cost of repairing.
Humble Pie | “It’s been a very humbling and amazing experience,” says Jackson, one of 10 siblings who worked his way through college. “All I can say is that I hope to be able to help other people in a similar fashion whether financially or through blood, sweat and tears. Once you’re the recipient of this kind of thing, you realize how important it is.”
Band of Brothers | His band of brothers came together at Xavier—high school friends from Indianapolis and new friends he made while here. Because Jackson left Xavier temporarily in 1969 to serve in the Indiana National Guard, most of his friends graduated before him. But his military experience helped him focus on his future, and he graduated in 1972.
Down South | Jackson relocated to Louisiana in 1978 for business opportunities, eventually developing his own financial and insurance consulting company. He was there when Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast in August 2005.
Perfect Storm | “When Katrina was threatening to become a Category 5 hurricane by landfall, we planned to evacuate to a town two hours west and stay with a friend’s family. By Sunday morning we knew we had to get out. At 7:00 a.m., I’d packed everything I could take and we left here. The traffic on Interstate 10 was an utter nightmare. All lanes were westbound. It took five hours.”
The Aftermath | “When we got back home, the water had receded and mold was crawling up the walls and all over the furniture. It was a God-awful mess. From four feet above the floor to the baseboards, the walls had to be ripped out and all the insulation, the Sheetrock, the vanities in the bathrooms, the doors and door frames, kitchen cabinets and appliances all had to be thrown out.”
The Gift | In October, Mike Leppert, one of the brothers, called him to say he’d contacted all their Xavier friends and took up a collection to help him out. Jackson tried to refuse the money. “But he said he’d been sent all these checks, and it’s all for you and we’re going to wire transfer it to you.” Jackson wrote an open letter to Xavier in January to publicly thank his friends for their generosity.
Perfect Timing | The money came at a time when they needed cash to buy materials like Sheetrock, floor covering and kitchen cabinets to repair their house. Their insurance claims had not yet been processed, they couldn’t work and they needed thousands of dollars to get the repairs started. And it had to be cash because the stores couldn’t take credit cards. “We needed to have cash and this really bailed us out of a tough time.”