Carrboro.com is owned and operated by Jackie Helvey, an artist and community activist who moved to the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina from Indiana on Thanksgiving Day of 1979. She recognizes the significance of arriving on this date and remains forever thankful. |
In 2021, Jackie started a new production called, "Wait! I'm Not Done Yet," because, well, she isn't. She still has her business which she continues to enjoy immensely. Jackie spends a lot of time traveling the US, recently visited Wales (where her ancestors are from), and makes frequent trips to the Yucatan, camera in hand, taking photos and making memories she can look back on in years to come. She is eternally grateful for the wonderful life she has been gifted. She will tell you, "It's been one heck of a ride!"
She was a member of the Town of Carrboro 2020 Comprehensive Plan Task Force, working with the Town and other local citizens to put together a plan for Carrboro over the next 20 years. As a participant in Vision 2020, a similar group from 20 years ago, she is familiar with the process and loves helping mold the future of Carrboro. Some might call her an unapologetic rabble-rouser, others, a voice of reason in an unreasonable choir. She's perfectly fine with both of these descriptions. Read on to learn more about her history.
After producing car parts at an automotive parts factory beginning when she was a senior in high school in Logansport, Indiana, Helvey moved south in 1979 in search of a better life. A stint walking the picket line when they went on strike resulted in threats of prosecution, so there was no tearful goodbye when she walked out the door of Switches. It was a layoff that, gratefully, never ended, a stroke of luck that eventually landed Jackie in Carrboro.
Her part-time job as a bartender in Indiana served her well when she moved to NC, where they had only recently gotten "liquor by the drink," and knowledgeable barkeeps were in high demand. Helvey was hired by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as the one and only state-employed bartender, running the Pine Room Lounge in the Carolina Inn, a position she held until 1993. This not only gave her a decent living wage and her family health insurance, it also gave her a unique perspective on her community. While managing this bar, she received a higher education that money couldn't buy. She also gave birth to her two daughters during these years. While Jackie wasn't born here, she did grow up here.
Helvey purchased her house in Carrboro in March of 1985, moving back from Chatham County after having resided in a less than desirable apartment complex there years prior. She came back anyway. She was meant to be here.
In 1996 she learned basic computer skills, then taught herself graphic design and website development and soon started her business, UniqueOrn Enterprises. Jackie picked up her camera again, a longtime love, and began documenting the history of Carrboro in photos and stories for carrboro.com.
It's the hope of Helvey to make a difference in the community where she lives, works, plays, and has raised her daughters, Amber and Teresa Hayes. Both are graduates of East Chapel Hill High School. Amber is a graduate of High Point University and Reese attended Western Carolina. Both continue to live in North Carolina. In 2018, she became a grandmother when her daughter Teresa gave birth to Phoenix, her precious grandson.
Far from being quiet and demure, Helvey's wit is demonstrated in a photo of her in a barrel going down Niagara Falls in 2019. She has always aspired to be the Joan Rivers of Carrboro. The only thing holding her back is a case of stage fright that terrifies her.
As a web designer since 1997, Jackie received Golden Web Awards, given by the International Association of Web Masters and Designers for excellence in website design and content, as well as having won two out of three statewide awards from the NC Center for Voter Education for political candidates' websites. She has designed websites for numerous university departments, artists, galleries, businesses, farmers, etc., and has designed and maintained many websites for over two decades.
As a photographer the exhibit "Happy 100th Birthday Carrboro," featuring the people and places of Carrboro, was part of a group exhibit celebrating Carrboro's 100th birthday, from June-October, 2011, at Carrboro Branch Library. It will be part of a permanent collection in the new Carrboro Library. She was the photographer and web designer for the Carrboro Farmers' Market for over 15 years, and worked as a photographer for the Town of Carrboro for more than a decade. One of Helvey's images was voted best photo on the Environment North Carolina's website, and her work has been featured on websites, in publications, and TV news stories including Bon App tit Magazine, Williams-Sonoma, The National Building Museum in Washington DC's book Green Community, Our State Magazine, The Raleigh News and Observer, The Independent, AAA Carolina's GO Magazine, The Chapel Hill News, The Carrboro Citizen, Chapel Hill Magazine, The Herald Sun, Blue Ridge Outdoors, the Carrboro Visitor's Guide, the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitor's Guide, The History of Carrboro and WTVD TV. She often stumbles upon her work unexpectedly on websites and in publications. Countless numbers of her photos have appeared worldwide over the past 20+ years. She is proud and happy to have had her work so widely seen over the course of her lifetime, a dream come true.
In 2018 after over 11 years on the air, Jackie retired her weekly radio show focusing on the arts in and around Carrboro called The Wacqueline Stern Show. Her show was on Fridays at 6pm on WCOM, 103.5 FM, Carrboro and Chapel Hill's all volunteer run community radio station. Helvey began videotaping her WCOM shows in 2009. These interview videos became The Wacqueline Stern TV Show, a television show produced by Jackie and broadcast on the People's Channel in Carrboro and Chapel Hill and on Durham Community Media in Durham. She pretends to know what she's doing, and sometimes she actually does! The radio show video clips, including live premiere music performances, are available on the Wac Stern Show Channel on Vimeo. Helvey also did occasional commentaries and interviews for Chapelboro/1360 WCHL in Chapel Hill.
In 2015 she was included in a book on the history of Carrboro written by Richard Ellington and Dave Otto, the 2nd volume, in the chapter titled "Architects of Change."
A strong supporter of the arts, Jackie was on the Town of Carrboro Arts Committee Advisory Board from 1998 until 2011. She is a founder of the Carrboro Music Festival and has remained a member of that committee since 1997. She founded the Carrboro Film Festival in 2006 and continues to serve on that committee. Jackie was on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Community Art Project Committee for many years, starting in 2003, co-chairing the event in 2008 with Ande Sobbe, when they built a huge labyrinth on the lawn at the Community Center in Chapel Hill, where it remained for a couple of years. Even after the limbs degraded, the path remained. Since the late 1990's Helvey has served, and continues to serve, on numerous committees and boards in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. She has been named a "Hometown Hero" twice, receiving Village Pride Awards. Jackie always strives to make her community a better place, while working to keep the arts in the forefront.
On April 5th, 2011 the Town of Carrboro presented Helvey with a sculpture in honor of her years on the Carrboro Arts Committee and passed a resolution read at the Carrboro Day Centennial Celebration declaring the first week of May, "Jackie Helvey Week," the one and only time this honor has ever been bestowed upon anyone in Carrboro. On May 18, 2011 she was given Roses by the Chapel Hill News.
Always willing to expand her horizons, on November 22, 2009, Helvey made her acting debut as the director in the Carrboro Film Festival Intro. As co-chair of the Carrboro Film Festival in 2012, Jackie once again played a director in the festival opener. In November 2010, Jackie played in the Carrboro Film Festival 2010 Opener by filmmaker Nic Beery.
On January 5, 2010 Helvey was the guest on Claudio's Speakeasy and Radio Theater on WCOM 103.5. Airing on August 3, 2009 Hilary Russo interviewed Jackie and Jim McQuaid on Second Cinema, discussing the Carrboro Film Festival.
Helvey contributed to the Carrboro Citizen, including a column on the importance of supporting community radio and a the recent history of Carrboro in the Carrboro Centennial Commemorative 100th. birthday issue.
In February 2008 Helvey was featured in Our State Magazine in an article about Carrboro.
In March 2007 Helvey was selected Volunteer of the Year by the Town of Carrboro, and recognized in Women Who Shine in the Raleigh News and Observer.
Also in 2007, she published the children's book that she wrote for her daughters 15 years earlier, Wiggley Waggley Woo.
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