Boise-based organization donates $16K to ISU nursing students
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POCATELLO — A recent $16,000 donation is just the latest in the continued efforts of a Boise organization in honoring its namesake.
The John William Jackson Fund was formed about 20 years ago, following the 1994 death of founder Bill “Action” Jackson’s son. This latest donation, which pushed the organization’s annual total over $100,000, provided scholarships to eight nursing students at Idaho State University.
Since its inception, the organization has traveled throughout Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington collecting unused and scrap construction materials from job sites. Those materials are then recycled, and the money donated.
“The mission is to advance academic scholarships, from elementary level to college and university — we don’t give scholarships to elementary students, but we bring them out and introduce them to the performing arts,” Action told EastIdahoNews.com.
Performing arts, specifically music, were among John’s many interests. As were soccer and mountain climbing, so money generated by the fund also goes to sports programs — primarily soccer and mountain climbing.
This latest donation though is further testament to the organization’s commitment to its philanthropic work.
After collecting scrap materials from numerous construction sites across the state, including the recently dedicated Pocatello LDS Temple, the fund donated $16,000 in scholarships to eight students in the ISU nursing program.
The fund normally supports ISU’s Meridian campus — and its accelerated nursing program for students who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree. But this time, Action said, the university asked if he would be willing to split the donation between the Meridian and Pocatello campuses, which he was happy to do.
Associate Dean and Director of ISU’s School of Nursing Dr. Karen Neill said that the fund’s commitment and donations, which have been growing over the last two years, have always been appreciated, but with the demand for nurses rising, it will have an even grander impact.
“Most of these students come from rural Idaho,” Neill said explaining that impact. “These scholarships help them reach their dream of being a nurse, and many of them want to and will be going back to their rural communities to practice as a nurse.”
Offering evidence to that sentiment, three of the four students who received the scholarship are from the small community of Rupert, with a population under 6,000, according to the 2019 census.
“In my mind — wow, where would you find a situation where three Rupert students wound up getting three of four scholarships (rewarded)?” Action said.
Minidoka Memorial Hospital, serving the Rupert area, currently has eight open nursing positions, according to the hospital website.
The $16,000 put the fund’s donation total to nursing and health science scholarships over $100,000 for the year, Action said. Another $41,500 was donated to ISU in May, he added. Brigham Young University-Idaho’s nursing school in Rexburg also received $6,000 of the grand total.
And these efforts require much work.
On average, Action explained, the organization collects between $1,000 and $2,500 worth of recyclable materials from each construction site — meaning it took trips to nearly 100 construction sites to collect this year’s total for nursing programs alone.
Neill is impressed when considering the amount of work it takes to produce the massive annual total and the nearly $2 million it has donated in its 20-some years of existence.
“He’s an older gentleman and still goes out and does the work himself, with his team,” Neill said. “They scrap metal and they turn that into scholarship dollars, and we’re very grateful for the money they’ve provided our students.”
The John William Jackson Fund works primarily with larger construction companies and larger construction sites, due to the labor-intensive process of gathering the materials, so the organization does not accept smaller donations. Those interested in donating to the organization however, can do so here.
“He lost his son and he wanted to do something good, and this is his answer,” Neill added. “He’s such an interesting, fabulous person to be doing this … he’s really something else.”