BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
BACKGROUND: Rev. Dwayne Jackson was born and raised in the South Bronx. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and completed his bachelor’s from New York Institute of Technology, majoring in science and electronic engineering with a minor in computer science. He graduated with a master’s degree in theology from the seminary in New Brunswick. He has been working in Astoria for around 17 years. Though officially a resident of Newark, New Jersey, he says he hardly goes home and spends most of his nights at the parsonage across the street from his church in Astoria.
OCCUPATION: He is a pastor at the First Reformed Church of Astoria on Ditmars Boulevard.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Apart from his regular duties, Jackson volunteers with tenant associations. He is a mentor for children and teens at the Astoria Houses Community Center. He also volunteers at an Astoria senior center. He meets and interacts with local leaders about job, business, education and training opportunities in the community, and puts forth residents’ concerns about issues that affect the quality of life. He also volunteers at the AIDS Center of Queens County. His most recent responsibility is acting as a clergy liaison for the local police from Police Service Area 9.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Being in the neighborhood for so long, seeing young people moving from a questionable place to a place from where they can contribute to society … just knowing that I can be there for people in their greatest time of need is my greatest achievement,” Jackson said.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Trying to find resources to meet all needs,” Jackson said. “Financial resources, finding work for people or getting them trained … trying to find enough time in the day to meet the needs of all the people who reach out.”
INSPIRATION: “There are a few people but I’d like to mention Rev. Dr. Wilbur Washington. He taught me a phrase when I first joined the church. He said, ‘Love the people and they’ll learn to love you in return. And with this kind of relationship, you can walk with them anywhere they need you to go.’ It allows me to build a confidence with them and that my presence there is for their benefit.”