Sitting at a table, Cidney Jackson looks at me with an inquisitive expression, contemplating what to say next. She finally says, “I don’t want to be defined as a shy person. Once I get to know people, I tend to talk a lot.” We start to talk and as we do, the words start flowing more effortlessly from her lips. She relaxes a little bit and appears to be more at ease with our conversation.
In a way, our interview also paints a portrait of the way Cidney sells Real Change. Cidney tells me that initially it was difficult to sell the paper due to her shyness, but now, “I am more outgoing. I am getting involved more and I am talking more. I feel like people have seen a real change in me since I started.” She is proud of this transformation, a transformation that has altered the way that she interacts with people on a regular basis. Cidney is happy that she has the opportunity to improve her communication skills and commends all that Real Change has helped her with.
Cidney identifies with the message behind the paper. She says that she started to sell it because “the organization helps people that are in need. That’s why I really like it.” Cidney is a very relationship-oriented person. This belief in the importance of human relationships drives her. Cidney identifies the most with the messages of love, compassion and interconnectedness that Martin Luther King Jr. used to voice. She views King as an inspiration, especially his message of the shared humanity that exists among human beings across the world. It is an excerpt from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that most resonates with her: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Writers provide inspiration and comfort. She plays the guitar, writes songs and affirmations that help her focus on the positive that exists in and all around her. As Cidney tells me, the writing “helps me to relax. I find it pretty helpful in my life. It has been really good for me.” She is currently writing a book that encourages positivity, something that
Cidney advocates for strongly. She even enjoys Korean yoga. All of it is part of the life-blood that keeps her going.
Cidney is thankful for the effect that Real Change has had on her. She believes that it has taught her to take care of herself, and that it helps her serve the community in an important way. She is grateful for her customers and the important people in her life that have helped and supported her along the way, including Patricia Ann Davis. Cidney’s ability to take joy in life is something that cannot be taught — it is something inside her that has been cultivated throughout her life. It is an ongoing process that helps her on a daily basis. Cidney’s feelings about Real Change are similar to her positive outlook on life. She tells me, “I am really grateful for this opportunity. One day I hope that every state will have something like Real Change.” Her positivity and thankfulness is something that hopefully will resonate with everyone.