Ward of the Court: The Life of Richard Jackson tells the story of a remarkable journey that began over 60 years ago at the Hillside Monroe Campus in Rochester, NY. In his memoir, author Richard Jackson recalls his early years in foster care, and the support he received at Hillside that helped him prepare for a fulfilling future.

Jackson came to Hillside in the 1950s, following the deaths of two foster parents. During his teenage years on the Monroe Campus, he kept up with his studies while learning essential skills such as cooking, ironing and sewing; earning medals and camping while in Boy Scouts (pictured above); and engaging in track and other sports.

“I got to do a lot of things that I didn’t think under normal circumstances I would have been involved in or would have had the opportunity to do,” he says, while adding that those years provided him with critical guidance at a pivotal time in his life.

“I look at being a ward of the court as a chance to have the support system along the way that I did,” he recalls. “My experiences at Hillside, and with the people there, made so many things possible for me.”

After graduating from high school, Jackson was admitted to Kansas-based Ottawa University, and promptly boarded a bus headed for the Midwest to continue his education. The book describes how Jackson received his college degree and remained in Ottawa to dedicate his life and career to public service, including as a longtime leader of the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation (ECKAN). He was also elected the first Black mayor of that city and served as a longtime member of the Ottawa City Commission.

Since retiring from his professional roles in 2019, Jackson, now 79, has remained active in his community—particularly volunteering with groups that support vulnerable children.

“When young people need help, it’s in everyone’s best interests to provide whatever is needed to support their goals and their future,” Jackson says. “Organizations like Hillside are so important in that way. I’m so grateful that Hillside was there for me, and that it remains able to help young people in need.”

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