December 2021 Issue
Part of Paisley's "Making a Difference: 4 Women Who Care" Special Section
Photography by Mike Force Photography
Jacqueline W. Bryant
Occupation: (Retired) Regional Manager, State of Georgia
Hometown: Born in Savannah, Ga., resided in Jacksonville, Florida, but has lived on Saint Simons Island for the last 17 years
I have always been involved in the communities where I resided. I served on statewide committees and am a graduate of Leadership Georgia. I am currently President of the Brunswick (GA) Chapter of the Links Incorporated. Our organization is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations. Locally, we have 31 members and serve Camden, Glynn and McIntosh counties. We continue to partner and engage with like-minded organizations and individuals who share our vision. This past year has been challenging as we shifted our paradigm into the virtual world of Zoom due to Covid-19. But even with that, we didn’t slow down our efforts, and we continued to excel in supporting our programs within the communities.
We provide scholarships to deserving students yearly to encourage a higher level of education upon graduating from high school. This year on December 10, the Brunswick (GA) Chapter of The Links will celebrate 55 years of Emerald Excellence in providing transformative service and friendship to the community. The event will be held virtually on Saturday, December 11, 2021.
I also serve on the board of the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra. To witness how music has such an intricate influence in the development of students is remarkable. I look forward to the concerts that the orchestra provides each year, as the students practice and work extremely hard to provide the best concerts they can. I’m also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Association of Social Workers, the NAACP and the Georgia State Retirees Association.
Tell us about your career:
I’ve always had a passion to help people and to try and make a difference in the lives of others, especially those who are less fortunate. That is one of the reasons I focused on degrees in social work and criminology in college. I was employed for 35 years with the State of Georgia. I started my career as a case manager with the Department of Family and Children Services and quickly advanced through the ranks. I retired as a Regional Manager with the State. I was responsible for nine counties and analyzed and assessed the effectiveness of existing programs to ensure that identified outcome measures were achieved and in compliance with policies. My career afforded me many opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. It taught me that people are similar in beliefs and traditions. Through the services provided by the agencies, we were able to develop procedures and provide the necessary tools to help enhance the lives of others.
Have you had a calling in life?
I believe we were all put here for a reason and are unique in our own special way. My love and desire to help those individuals who may be going through a difficult time for whatever reason is my calling. My desire to assist children in succeeding whenever possible is my calling. My love to generally help and make a difference in the lives of others is my calling!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I’ve received was never to give up on your dreams and aspirations. We may not succeed at everything we attempt to do; however, it is how we choose to turn our failures into successes that makes a difference. We can learn lessons both from failing and succeeding.
What advice would you give to those who want to make a difference?
Believe and have faith in yourself and your dreams! Always dream big; you control your own destiny. Determine your destiny and reach for the stars! Always treat people with respect. A famous quote I like to live by is one by Poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Who has been a mentor to you?
My mentoring started very young, so I would have to say my parents. They instilled in me determination, faith, humbleness and the courage to excel in whatever I wanted to achieve. They taught me to be fearless. They inspired me to never give up!
Helping others can be hard work. How do you get through the difficult days?
Getting through the difficult days is always easier with a phone call to a good friend or a loving family member for encouragement. Having a good support system of family and friends always makes difficult days not so difficult. I also like to practice repeating positive affirmations and taking long walks.