Several years ago, I heard a story that was hard to believe. It was about Steve and Barbara Jackson, small-town GM dealers in California who were approached by the Toyota Corporation wanting them to open a new dealership in Rockwall, Texas. Here’s the extraordinary part. Thirty-three of the employees in their California dealership were so devoted to the couple that they sold their homes, packed up their families, and moved 1,500 miles away to Rockwall to continue working for them. That was in 2008 and many of them are still part of the organization.
Within a few short years, Toyota of Rockwall was named Best Small Business to Work For and their customer satisfaction scores have remained in the top five nationwide. They’ve received the Lakeside Living Magazine Readers’ Choice Award every year there was an “automobile dealerships” category. And the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce happily awarded them the Best Practices in Community Involvement Award.
It’s difficult to name a local nonprofit that hasn’t been touched by the Jackson’s generosity. “Steve and I are at a time of life when you look back hoping you’ve been able to make a difference,” Barbara said. “Our early years were about raising kids. Now all that matters is what God allows us to do for others. I’m blessed to have a husband who allows me to do whatever the Father tells me to do.” For Barbara this includes serving as children’s leader at her church as well as investing in the lives of her employees, encouraging them to achieve the right work/life balance. And it involves reaching out and making her community a better, more loving, place.
Here are just a few of the ways the Jacksons are being God’s hands and feet around the Rockwall community.
- Teacher of the Year – Maybe you’ve seen one of the bright, cheery Teacher of the Year cars tootling around town. That’s just one way Toyota of Rockwall honors our local educators, providing the eight top teachers selected in Rockwall ISD, Royse City ISD, Forney ISD, and Wylie ISD with a “wrapped” Toyota to drive for six months free of charge, letting the world know how they’re investing in the future. The teachers also receive free gasoline, maintenance, and car washes on their vehicles.
- Pack the Pantry for Helping Hands – Each year, Toyota of Rockwall challenges the community, Rockwall ISD, both local high schools, and local police and fire departments to a friendly competition to see who can gather the most donations for Rockwall County Helping Hands. And each year, they outdo themselves with tens of thousands of pounds of donations gathered to sustain local families in need.
- Toyota Dealer Match Program – The impact the Jackson’s have on local nonprofits is amplified by a matching program from the Toyota Corporation. Toyota of Rockwall has donated a total of $10,000 to local nonprofits, and those monies have been matched dollar for dollar with Toyota Matching Grants.
- Lone Star CASA – Especially dear to Barbara’s heart is her support for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization which identifies and trains special advocates for children in Rockwall and Kaufman County court cases. CASA volunteers serve as the voice of the child, advocating for them until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.
- One Man’s Treasure – This faith-based ministry provides clothing to men being released from prison, offering them a head start on the long road to self-sufficiency with the goal of increasing the chance for a changed life, helping reduce recidivism (return to prison), and creating safer communities.
- Rockwall County Meals on Wheels – Toyota of Rockwall employees volunteer to transport seniors to their doctor appointments when transportation isn’t available, and support Meals on Wheels to provide nutritious meals and a friendly face to elderly and homebound citizens of Rockwall County.
- School Mentor Programs – Over the years, Barbara has mentored many local school kids and encourages Toyota of Rockwall employees to join her in the mentorship programs of the local school district to invest in the lives of the children there.
- Green Field Trips – Toyota of Rockwall was the first ever national gold recipient of the LEED award (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which Barbara has taken a step further by organizing field trips where local school kids can learn firsthand how a “green” organization runs, works to reduce waste, and uses recycled materials.
- Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway – Toyota of Rockwall initiated a request to all their Facebook friends to nominate a family in need of a Thanksgiving dinner. Two families were identified, and Toyota of Rockwall happily provided a home-cooked meal for their holiday celebration.
- Share the Good News School Giveaway – Another fun Facebook competition, Toyota of Rockwall challenged students and staff at Rockwall ISD, Royse City ISD, Wylie ISD, and Forney ISD to share good news about the great things happening in their schools. There were hundreds of uplifting posts and Royse City ISD Education Foundation won $5,000 for racking up the most Facebook “shares.”
Jasmine Jackson Conley has spent most of her life hearing from people what a wonderful person her mom is. “In truth, they don’t know the half of it,” she said “She has such a big heart and it’s all completely genuine. My parents both value giving back to the community. They came from nothing and earned every nickel they have. But it’s never been about living large for them. It’s about making a difference and leaving a legacy of love in this community.”
The last thing Barbara is comfortable with is anyone bragging on her. “I’d much rather brag on God,” she said. “This year has been all about learning you can’t outgive God. The more we give, the more He gives. It’s not about prosperity, it’s about learning to love your neighbor. As long as God allows Steve and me to be here, we want to keep on making a difference for Him.”
1250 East Interstate 30
Rockwall, Texas 75087