Joann Jackson was born and raised in Washington, DC. Though she was accepted to Howard University after graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1965, she instead entered the job market, and eventually she owned her own million dollar business.
However, pressures from her work and peers led to drinking. “When I first started drinking I wanted to be a part of a group, and drinking was the cool thing to do…it helped me to feel better about myself.” Eventually Joann’s addiction to alcohol and drugs, coupled with undiagnosed depression, led to homelessness.
A sexual assault while living at a shelter led to a brief stay in a hospital, where Joann was finally connected with the services that helped her to overcome her dependency. After her release she was placed in transitional housing, where she learned how to cope with her problems until she was ready to move on.
Today Joann lives in a retirement community where she is the vice-president of the Residents Council. She has been with the speakers bureau since its inception in 1996, where she has at various times served as a coordinator as well as a speaker. “I think the speakers bureau has a great effect on people. It gives people an understanding about homelessness and homeless people. Maybe one day it could happen to them.” Apart from her work with NCH she writes poetry and spends as much time as she can with her grandchildren.