Tennie Jackson has dedicated her life to caring for people. Raised in a house with nine siblings and unconditionally loving parents, she learned the true meaning of compassion. She grew up in Camilla, Georgia, at a time when African-Americans were not made to feel welcome, so she made it her mission to love unapologetically – which clearly shows in the way she spends much of her time devotedly helping others.

This journey began in 1980 when Tennie started as a nurse tech at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. For the next 20 years, she poured her heart into each patient who passed through. She explains, “I felt I had a little angel on my shoulder that said, ‘Suppose this was your mother. How would you like her to be treated?’” Despite two decades at the hospital, she was not done. After retiring from TMH, she joined the volunteer team at Elder Care Services as a Senior Companion. To this day, she volunteers 25 hours a week with Big Bend Hospice.

Often called “Mom” or “Angel” by her patients, Tennie is an incredible example of the difference kindness and dedication can make in this world.

For her compassionate efforts, Tennie was awarded the prestigious Braddock-Parker Award in 2012 for her incredible work for Elder Care Services. She also makes sure to carve out time for Greater Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, where she is like a mother to many young girls. Each of these efforts, and more, is infused with her characteristic humility.

Many have been blessed with the opportunity to experience Tennie Jackson’s love. Although she may not know everyone by name, she loves them just the same – and that is felt in the way she lights up any room she enters. Her philosophy: “Make sure to love yourself first, so you can love everyone else,” she says. “Always be kind and smile – but make sure it’s a real smile.”