Jessica L. McClellan

Founder and president of Giving Hope & Help Inc.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Kansas City, Kansas. I was raised in KCK, Shawnee, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. I am a proud East High School graduate of the Class of 87. I also received a master's degree from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.

What is your occupation?
I am the founder and president of Giving Hope & Help Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization. I am also a speaker and Radio Talk Show Host- Jessica Lynn Speaks Life on KUAW-Radio.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
I have so many favorite childhood memories, but I'll share this one. Growing up working the family garden and selling greens and vegetables with my McCallop grandparents on the corner of 31st and Brooklyn in KCMO was on of my favorite memories. One particular day, it was just my grandparents and myself. A lady asked for 3 bushes of greens. The cost was $1. She told my grandmother that she did not have the money. Grandma told me to climb up in the back of the truck and get her the 3 bushes she requested. Grandma gave them to her at no charge. I must have been eight-years-old or so. I will forever remember that. It was my first lesson on giving. To this day, it resonates with me. What a memory of giving hope and help to others.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means so much to me as an African American Woman and graduate of a HBCU, (Historically Black College and University) Southern University And Agricultural & Mechanical College. I know a lot of my family history and take so much pride in continuing the legacy of giving that is in my DNA. My great-grandfather, whom I had the privilege of growing up with, Robert L. McCallop Sr., founded the McCallop Bus Company in 1935 to transport African American children/children of color who were not allowed to ride the school bus to school. He converted his flat bed truck to transport the children to school, field trips and church. His bus company ended up with a fleet of 14 buses. My grandfather, father, uncles and aunts ran the family business for years. My McCallop family and myself, the new generation, were honored this February, for Black History Month for our contributions to Johnson County, Kansas and the community by the Johnson County Museum. The nonprofit, Giving Hope & Help, that I founded awards college scholarships to the very same schools that my great grandfather and family members drove students of color to. The National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) honored my family with a banquet at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park, KS for their contributions to the community in 2002. I was blessed to be there with my family.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
One of the most important issues facing the Black community is the lack of opportunity and disparities in leveraging and sustaining wealth, healthcare, education, equality justice and equity.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I have always known I was Black, mixed with Caucasian, and Indian. (Caucasian and Indian from my paternal grandparents) However, in America, if you have a drop of Black you are Black unless you can pass for white. My grandmother could pass for white. She shared many stories of her story and our family history with me. She could pass for white because her father was a mulatto and the son of the slave master. She took on more of the Caucasian gene, but she was a proud African American woman who supported and advocated for justice and change within her community. She was the first African American Woman to work at Macy's in KCK, Funny thing is they had no idea she was black. She would sneak African American women in the fitting room to try on clothes because if you were black then it was forbidden to use the fitting rooms.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My ancestors, great-great grands, great-grands, grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren are my push for change. I am my ancestors and wildest dreams. I have been blessed to accomplish much that those before me were not able to accomplish, yet they sacrificed their lives so I could. Therefore, I strive and push for change and equality to give hope and help to others to make this world a better place for my children, grand-children, generations to come and for all people regardless of the color of their skin. I pray to be the inspiration to my family as my ancestors are to me.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I have supported the local Black community with my radio show. I host special guest and black owned businesses and professionals that contribute to the community. I also use my gift as a professional speaker to inspire others, speaking on platforms, panels and keynotes. As the founder and president of Giving Hope & Help Inc., I advocate to end domestic violence as well as support domestic violence shelters in Kansas, Missouri and Texas, schools, natural disaster survivors and global distribution of period products. I mission to end domestic violence and period poverty. Since the launch of the nonprofit over 50,000 women and girls have received our period products locally and across the globe. Giving Hope & Help also hosts a monthly First Saturday Free Period Products program whereby we give free period products to the community. I also founded the Giving Hope & Help Education Is Your Passport Scholarship Program in 2015. The program has awarded 72 college scholarships, cash legacy scholarships in my paternal and maternal grandparents honor, awarded 4 full ride scholarship's to MCC-Penn Valley to low income high school seniors and hosted countless free period products drive thru's and free school supplies during the pandemic. We are accepting scholarships now thru May 17, 2021 for the 7th Annual Education Is Your Passport Scholarship Program. The Giving Hope & Help LOVE Bags 4 Cancer Donation & Delivery Event was established in 2015 in honor of my late niece that fought Hodgkin's Lymphoma for six years. The LOVE Bags 4 Cancer initiative has inspired more than 500 cancer patients with LOVE Bags filled with novelties, gift cards and inspiring items for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. A portion of the proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society and local nonprofit Surviving the Odds Inc. In October 2020, I received a resolution from the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, for my philanthropic work with Giving Hope & Help Inc. I am honored to serve my community and those in need locally and across the globe. My mantra is: I live to give. In July of 2020 I launched the Facebook Group: Black, Brown and White UNITE for CHANGE. The purpose and goal of the group is to inspire, implement and promote: A REVOLUTION to EDUCATE, UNIFY and START conscious conversations of safe and open expression to IGNITE ACTIONS towards CHANGE to ERADICATE systemic racism, increase EQUITY, INCLUSION, JUSTICE and EQUALITY.

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