Friends Organize BBQ Fundraiser for Ronnie Jackson
by Angelique Gammon
If you want to spread the word about something locally, Bryan City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta says there are three vital forms of communication: telephone, television, and “tell Ronnie.” The third method refers to Ronnie Jackson, who today celebrates 18 years as Neighborhood and Youth Services Coordinator for the City of Bryan. “The man has an incredible communication network,” she says. “Sometimes I look for the antenna on his head!”
Stratta met Ronnie on June 5, 1995, his first day as a City of Bryan employee. It’s a poignant anniversary, falling just days before a drive-through barbecue fundraiser that has been organized to help with medical expenses as Ronnie continues a 15-month battle against cancer. A group of locals grateful to Ronnie for his years of dedication to improving the quality of life for people in both Bryan and College Station are hosting Sunday’s drive-through barbecue lunch at Christ United Methodist Church in College Station. All proceeds will go toward Ronnie’s ongoing medical expenses. Sponsors include J Cody’s Steak & Barbecue Restaurant, Readfield Meats, Insite Magazine, and a host of Ronnie’s friends and fellow board members from the numerous nonprofits Ronnie has served through the years.
About that “telephone, television and ‘tell Ronnie,’” Stratta says, “Ronnie knows everybody; he knows it all; and he will tell everybody. He knows you; he knows your aunt and your aunt’s aunt,” she adds with obvious warmth and only a hint of teasing. This gift for both knowing the people he serves and his neighbors in both cities, combined with knowing all the services that exist to improve someone’s quality of life at the family, neighborhood or city level, are at the bedrock of the support for Ronnie as he works to beat cancer and get back to the job he so obviously loves.
“There isn’t any employee that does more to improve quality of life than Ronnie, not just working with youth and special populations such as seniors or the mentally disabled,” says Stratta. “Ronnie knows about all the programs available,” and over the years, he has helped created more than a few new programs when he has identified a need and no program existed. “When he first came to the city, he was hired to work with youth initiatives. He has a unique set of skills in his ability to communicate with everybody. He is one of those people that has an innate ability to work within the system and not let the system bog him down. He just gets a lot done” whether it’s a program for at-risk junior high girls or to help men become better fathers, Stratta says.
“Ronnie’s love of children, his excellent communication skills, his honesty, his calm nature – he has a true love for people and passion for anyone struggling,” says Stratta, who can’t help but laugh as she recalls “Ronnie stories” from her 24-year career as city secretary. She is sincere when says that at every orientation she attends for the City of Bryan she tells new employees, “If you only meet one person outside your department, you need to meet Ronnie Jackson.”
She adds with obvious delight that Ronnie does have his faults, and they are most apparent when Kelli Levey, Ronnie’s wife of 10 years, is out of town: “He whines. He whines about walking the dog, about having to cook. It cracks me up!’
About helping Ronnie beat cancer and get back to doing what he does so well, Stratta is once again serious: “I’ve told Ronnie, I can partly do [this job] until you get back up here, but get back up here quick as you can because I’m not Ronnie Jackson. There’s only one.”
Pick Up A J Cody’s “BBQ Special for Ronnie Jackson” Sunday at Christ United Methodist Church, College Station
The day Cody Whitten was asked why he had volunteered his restaurant and catering skills to help with a fundraiser for Ronnie Jackson he was on his way to one of nine lunch caterings on the books that day for J Cody’s Steak & Barbecue Restaurant. As owner, Whitten’s business philosophy – provide a good product while being consistent with service – sounds simple, but, he says, “There are always 100 things that could go wrong. Quality really means constant attention to detail. You don’t cut corners.”
So when Whitten says he has “six minutes” to talk about why he is involved with the fundraiser for Ronnie Jackson, you can start counting down the minutes until the firemen he was about to feed would get their lunch so he could move on to feeding the next batch of hungry customers at the same level of quality and service that customers, and Whitten, expect.
“I’ve known Ronnie Jackson since we opened [in September 2001],” says Whitten. “He is both a great guy and a great customer. He’s a fan and is always saying good things about me [and J Cody’s]. That’s just the way Ronnie is. He always does for the people in this community. He has given a lot to a lot of people here, so it’s good to do something for him.
Drive Through Lunch Plate fundraiser, catered by J Cody’s Steak & Barbecue Restaurant, Bryan
Sunday, June 9
9:45am to 1:00pm or while supplies last
Christ United Methodist Church 4201 State Highway 6 S College Station, TX 77845
Follow the signs as you enter the Christ United Methodist Church campus from the Hwy. 6 access road. Volunteers will be waiting to take orders for a barbecue plate that includes J Cody’s barbecue brisket, sausage, potato salad, barbeque sauce, pickles, onions and bread.
A minimum $10 donation per plate may be made by cash, check or credit card. There are no advance tickets and lunches will be available while supplies last.
Large groups such as Sunday school classes may pre-order meals by emailing Angelique@insitebrazosvalley.com for Sunday pickup.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Organizers are accepting donations to cover the direct costs of the barbecue fundraiser so that all funds raised go directly to Ronnie Jackson for ongoing medical expenses.
To make a donation for direct costs, or to simply make a donation to Ronnie Jackson for medical expenses as he continues his fight against cancer, use the secure PayPal button below.
For more information about the fundraiser, email Angelique@InsiteBrazosValley.com.